Biopharmaceutical pipeline and partnering opportunities

Most of Canada's private and public biopharmaceutical companies are small and medium-sized (SME) firms engaged in research and development (R&D) of new therapeutics. Many biopharmaceutical innovations arise from research conducted in Canadian academic health research institutions, hospitals and government research laboratories. Major biopharmaceutical clusters are located in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The Canadian biopharmaceutical pipeline includes highly innovative and promising product candidates in various therapeutic fields. There are about 304 Canadian biopharmaceutical SMEs with over 837 promising biopharmaceutical products in human health under development. About 77% of Canada’s biopharmaceutical products are in the early stages of R&D, (i.e., research to phase I/II), while another 23% are in mid- to late- stages of development (i.e., late-stage clinical trials). Canadian companies had 113 products in phase II development and another 35 in phase III clinical trials as of December 2021. A small number of Canadian companies (28) have products on the market.

Canadian biopharmaceutical SMEs have strengths in oncology, with 82 companies specializing in this category, followed by 55 companies focusing on neurologic disorders, 55 companies in infectious diseases and 14 companies in cardiovascular diseases.

Biopharmaceutical SME’s Product Candidates by Stage of Development
(as of December 31, 2021):
Stage Research Pre-clinical Phase I Phase I/II Phase II Phase III Filed Market Total
Total 168 352 97 31 113 35 13 28 837

Source: 2022 Annual Report—Overview of the Canadian Biopharmaceutical Sector,
Peter Winter, March 2022.

Biopharmaceutical SMEs capitalize and strengthen their values by drawing on strong talent, and seeking alliances, partnerships, and licensing deals with venture capital (VC), equity capital and large pharma. The current trend in the global pharmaceutical industry is to externalize drug R&D programs and, as a result, brand-name Multi–National Enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly becoming an important source of financing for biopharmaceutical SMEs. By forming strategic alliances, providing risk capital investments from dedicated corporate VC funds, and participating in VC funds in Canada, pharmaceutical MNEs are providing a window on promising R&D opportunities, and a much needed boost to emerging and early stage biopharmaceutical companies.