Canada’s Medical Devices Sector: Cutting-edge Innovation with Competitive Investment Opportunities

Canada’s Medical Devices Sector:  Cutting-edge Innovation with Competitive Investment Opportunities

Canada’s economy, widely recognized as one of the world’s most innovative and stable, offers foreign investors a wealth of valuable opportunities. In particular, Canada’s medical-devices industry is one of the largest in the world, with exports totalling more than $1.8 billion, more than 1,000 firms and a workforce of 26,000.

In 2011, Canada’s medical device market was valued at $6.3 billion, with an average annual growth rate of seven percent between 2006 and 2011. From start-ups to large, established firms, both Canadian and foreign medical devices firms develop and manufacture high-demand products within Canada. These innovative products incorporate the latest discoveries from other industries – including biotechnology, advanced materials, microelectronics, telecommunications, software and informatics.

In Canada, homegrown global leaders like Nordion, Novadaq Technologies, and Titan Medical thrive along with numerous multinational firms such as Abbott Point of Care, Alere, Baxter, Covidien, Elekta, Hologic, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Roche, Smith & Nephew, Sorin Group and Zimmer, to name a few.

Canada offers investors a number of strong clusters to drive and support innovation in the medical devices sector. Each of these clusters produces a wide range of unique and innovative diagnostic and therapeutic products. Some key specialties include medical imaging, dental implants and materials, prosthetics, analytical instruments and advanced materials, as well as assistive devices and home-healthcare products. It is also highly innovative with recent breakthroughs related to HIV diagnosis and monitoring. Here are a few examples:

  • Halifax-based MedMira developed a three-minute flow-through diagnostic HIV test, the only such product to earn regulatory approval in Canada, the United States, China and the European Union.
  • University of Toronto researchers announced the invention of a portable cell-analyzer that makes it easier, faster and cheaper to monitor HIV patients in remote areas by testing their blood in real time and receiving results within minutes.

Some Quick Facts and Updates:
Canada’s Clusters and Invented-in-Canada Medical Devices

  • U.S.-based Abbott Point of Care’s facility in Ottawa has continually increased production of i-STAT cartridges, a handheld portable instrument coupled with single-use diagnostic cartridges for rapid point-of-care testing. By 2005, Abbott Point of Care produced over 24 million units yearly and needed to expand in order to meet growing demand. As a research-and-development, clinical research and manufacturing hub, Ottawa is the ideal location for Abbott. The company benefits from a vast pool of skilled labour and has invested $100 million in automation over the years to increase the facility’s efficiency.
  • The University of Waterloo has developed a unique knee-injury simulator—the first in the world—to better understand how to prevent anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, a common sports-related injury.
  • The Neovasc Reducer™ for refractory angina and PeriPatch™ surgical tissue, developed and manufactured in Vancouver by Neovasc.
  • Catheter-based products for the cryotherapeutic treatment of cardiovascular disease, now used in more than 500 medical centres around the world. Developed by Montréal-based Medtronic CryoCath.
  • The world’s only movable, high-resolution, intra-operative MRI system, developed by Winnipeg-based IMRIS, a world-renowned image-guided therapy-systems company.
  • A digital-radiography-imaging system used in nearly 40 countries, developed by Imaging Dynamics in Calgary.
  • The SPY imaging system, which provides clinically relevant, anatomic and physiologic images during open and minimally invasive surgical procedures, developed by Novadaq Technologies in Toronto.
  • A team at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute developed the world’s first bioengineered cornea: an artificial device implanted in the eye and injected with stem cells that promote the growth of a new cornea.
  • The C-Leg, a microprocessor-controlled knee prosthesis, developed by a Canadian engineer at the University of Alberta.

Canada’s Medical Devices Sector: A Global Investment Destination
New Investments since January 2012

  • S.-based Express Scripts Canada will build a new service centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
  • S.-based Gilead Sciences will build a new research laboratory in Edmonton, Alberta. The new 45,000 square-foot building will house a laboratory and office space for more than 80 scientists.
  • S.-based McKesson Canada will build a new $25 million distribution centre in Moncton, New Brunswick.
  • S.-based Pfizer Canada invested $32 million to modernize its plant in Montréal, Quebec. The investment will enlarge and upgrade the manufacturing facility where more than 4.4 billion multivitamin tablets are produced each year.
  • Spain-based Almirall has set up an affiliate in Mississauga, Ontario, to support the firm’s plans to promote its recently-approved chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug aclidinium. This is the company’s first office in North America.


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