Beyond Medicines

The Life Science Sector: A Healthier Future for Canada and Canadians

When reflecting on the value of life sciences, it is easy to stick with the obvious - medical advances that help people and save lives. This is especially true in the midst of an extraordinary era in healthcare where the convergence of medical knowledge, scientific advancements, and technology are revolutionizing disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatments. Recent years have brought forward groundbreaking developments in health innovation, including tumor-agnostic therapies, cell and gene therapies, as well as diagnostics and treatments for rare diseases. And while these incredible developments are fantastic news for patients near and far, and have us eager for the innovation that lies ahead, they only show part of the picture.

Just like associating Canada with only mountains and bears would fall short of the diverse natural beauty our country has to offer, similarly, the life sciences sector provides a wide range of benefits and delivers value in more ways than we may think. The innovative pharmaceutical industry in Canada contributes over 100,000 high-value jobs across the country. The industry's investment of $2.4 billion in research and development and its annual addition of nearly $16 billion to the economy are just a few examples of the valuable contributions of the life sciences sector to the total health of Canadians and healthcare innovation in Canada.[1]

Roche, a leader in pharmaceuticals, in-vitro diagnostics, and diabetes care management with a global history dating back to 1896, is committed to supporting the vibrant Canadian life sciences ecosystem and bringing innovation to patients. In 2023, 225,000 Canadians were treated with Roche medicines, and 1 in 4 Canadians were tested using a Roche diagnostic product.

In recent years, Roche has further reinforced its commitment to Canada by investing in collaborative research initiatives, strengthening the Canadian life sciences ecosystem and creating high profile, future-oriented jobs. The company declared Canada as one of its major global hubs, growing from a small local sales office with 4 employees in 1931, to almost 2,000 employees today. And in the last five years alone, Roche has committed to bringing 500 (and growing!) new, highly skilled jobs to Canada, spanning the entire healthcare value chain - from research and clinical studies to commercial operations, and everything in between. Now, Roche is expanding into areas required for the future of healthcare such as artificial intelligence, computational science, and machine learning.

A recent analysis showed that between 2019-2023, Roche directly impacted Canada’s economy by contributing $4.3 billion to gross output* and made significant contributions to partnerships and collaborations across Canada. In 2019, Roche launched a scholarship and mentoring program in collaboration with Life Sciences Ontario. The program provides mentorship support and financial aid for undergraduate students, helping train a new generation of scientists, while also promoting greater equity, diversity and inclusion, and enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the life sciences sector in Canada.

In 2020, Roche brought together Canada’s national AI institutes, Amii, Mila and Vector Institute, to found AI with Roche. The purpose of AI with Roche (or AiR) is to deliver to people in Canada and beyond better health outcomes through the discovery and application of artificial intelligence research. The collaboration is underpinned by an open and collaborative exchange, uniquely supported by Roche expertise. Beyond the founding institutes, it has encouraged many public-private partnerships with hospitals, patient groups, governments and start-ups.

Most recently, Roche announced another exciting partnership, teaming up with the Consortium québécois sur la découverte du médicament (CQDM), the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, McGill University and other key partners to support a research project helping to identify how genes and proteins influence the risk and progression of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), one of the leading causes of kidney failure. The results of this project have the potential to enable the identification of predictive biomarkers and innovative treatments for DKD - which will benefit the entire research and healthcare ecosystem in Quebec and beyond. 

With collaborative efforts like these, Roche and its partners are strengthening the entire Canadian ecosystem, leading to economic growth and better health outcomes - two things that are not mutually exclusive! Canada has immense potential. We already have all necessary ingredients to not only thrive in life sciences and healthcare innovation, but also to attract future R&D and life sciences investments. 

With continued collaboration and the creation of policies and regulations that support an innovation ecosystem, Canada will be an attractive destination for future investment, paving the path for a more prosperous, healthier future for Canadians. Roche Canada remains committed to working with our partners across the life sciences sector to make this a reality and to ultimately ensure healthcare innovation reaches those who need it most - patients.


  1. Source IMC

  2. Gross output is the broadest measure of economic activity; it represents the total gross value of goods and services produced by a given company or industry. Gross output is equal to the value of net output (or GDP) plus intermediate consumption (i.e. the value of all the goods and services used in generating a product, such as the value of the individual components of a drug product). Thus, GDP is a component of gross output. 

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