by Heidi Riley
A new 20,000-square-foot Bio-Manufacturing Incubator (BMI) is being built at the BioCommons, near the West Royalty Industrial park in Charlottetown. The facility, to be completed early in 2021, will help support the growing bioscience sector on PEI.
“The Bioscience sector on PEI is growing, and the number of companies developing on PEI or moving to the Island is continuing to increase,” says Rory Francis, CEO, PEI BioAllliance.
“In particular, there is an increase in the numbers of early-stage companies running research and development programs and doing product development. As these companies go from research to lab bench to scaling up manufacturing, more operational space is needed.
“Research incubation space is offered at the Duffy Research Centre on the UPEI campus, and Bio|Food|Tech has been an important place for companies to launch pilot projects. PEI has run out of appropriate space for companies to move forward into their own space, and the new project will help these companies expand.”
The companies that will lease space in the new facility are past the start-up stage but are not ready to build their own full-scale commercial facility.
The tenants planning to move into the new space in 2021 are already operating on PEI in the areas of human, animal and fish health. “They need appropriate manufacturing space, and we are out of that kind of space,” says Rory.
“Because they are working on health products, the environment is highly regulated and needs specialized infrastructure such as air handling systems and environmental controls.
“This type of facility is not readily available on the Island. PEI needs to create more specialized space if we want companies to continue to develop and grow here. Otherwise, they will go somewhere else to scale up their business as they get into manufacturing.
“Over the years, the PEI Bioscience cluster has developed a lot of expertise in bioprocessing, fermentation, and related downstream processing. That is an attraction to companies who need to access the right kind of facilities and find people with the knowledge of how to assist in developing their manufacturing practices. This facility will provide that kind of space and support to those companies.”
The new 20,000 square foot facility will have six individual suites available for rent to companies wishing to set up their equipment and start small-scale manufacturing of their products. Each suite will run independently and have its own air handling system. Each will offer lab space, office space, a manufacturing area, and warehousing with shipping and receiving.
Types of products to be manufactured
The companies leasing the facilities will be manufacturing non-pharma human health products such as probiotics and other natural health products, animal health or feed ingredients, vaccines for fish health, and other products used in the aquaculture industry to maintain fish health and fish nutrition.
Employment at the new facility
“There will be a full range of employment, including people working in laboratories, research and development, quality control and quality assurance, manufacturing leads, and production technicians.
“The companies will employ graduates from the Holland College Bioscience program, and Masters and PhDs from UPEI and other institutions. There will probably be a mix of people from PEI, and Atlantic Canada, and about 20 to 30 percent will probably be from other parts of Canada and the world.”
For more information, visit www.peibioalliance.com