The biotechnology industry in the state of British Columbia in Canada could double the number of companies, attract large revenue-generating biotechnology firms and create more than 5,000 new jobs within five years, says a strategic report presented this week to the Minister of Competition, Science and Enterprise Rick Thorpe.
Recommended strategies - outlined in Promoting Growth of the Biotechnology Industry in British Columbia, a report commissioned by industry association BC Biotech in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers and British Columbia law firm Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy - include public policy changes to stimulate jobs and investment in British Columbia's biotech sector.
"My thanks to the biotech industry for their collaboration in this comprehensive report, which offers strategic analysis and specific recommendations for making British Columbia a global biotechnology leader," said Thorpe. "Premier Gordon Campbell and our government made a New Era commitment to make British Columbia one of the world's top-10 centres for biotechnology. I will commit resources within my Ministry to work in partnership with BC Biotech to explore the implementation of these recommendations, and I will ask my colleagues, the Ministers of Finance, Health Services and Advanced Education, to work with me in reviewing these recommendations."
The six priority recommendations for an improved biotech economy in British Columbia are to introduce employee stock option credits to British Columbia-based research and development companies, expand the refundable provincial research & development tax credit programme to all British Columbia-based companies, and introduce a five-year provincial personal income tax exemption for foreign researchers and other skilled labour, In addition, to introduce a provincial tax exemption for income related to the exploitation of intellectual property developed in British Columbia, extend loss carry-forwards to 15 years and to introduce a refundable provincial tax credit on research and development labour costs.
"The biotechnology industry has the potential to significantly impact the economy of British Columbia - attracting key talent and investment to this province," added Paul Stinson, executive director, BC Biotech, a non-profit industry association. "BC Biotech is committed to making that happen, with the recommendations made in this report being an important step."
"As business advisors with a focus on biotech, we know financial competitiveness depends on competitive tax policy to successfully attract biotech enterprises and create self-sustaining critical masses of industry," said John De Lucchi, Partner and Leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Canadian Life Sciences Group.
Hector MacKay-Dunn at Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy in Vancouver commented :"This report is about creating positive change and the pressing need to enhance British Columbia's position as a place where all innovation industries, including biotech, can prosper and contribute to the overall economic growth in the province."