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56-acre life science, technology park proposed north of Toronto

A conceptual rendering of a proposed 56-acre Canadian Life Science and Technology Park in the community of Georgina, north of Toronto. (Courtesy CLSTP)
A conceptual rendering of a proposed 56-acre Canadian Life Science and Technology Park in the community of Georgina, north of Toronto. (Courtesy CLSTP)

The owner of a 56-acre plot of land acquired 43 years ago for a hobby farm in Georgina, Ont., about an hour’s drive north of Toronto, is seeking to turn it into the Canadian Life Science and Technology Park (CLSTP).

“I have about 27 years of medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical experience, having served across multiple departments in multiple companies in the area of scientific commercialization, development of pharmaceuticals and biotech medical devices,” said CLSTP founder Uzzo Calderaro, whose father purchased the Georgina site in 1981.

Calderaro said he has also been involved in designing and building specialized rooms for life sciences companies. He told RENX the proposed development stems from a recognition of the need for space to serve a wide array of sectors, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, bioprocessing, health care, academia, digital and technology.

Calderaro enlisted Safa’a Al-Rais to become president and chief executive officer of CLSTP. Al-Rais has almost 20 years of experience in the pharma and biopharma spaces, working with different companies to scale up the development and manufacturing of associated products.

“I’ve established a strategy that would establish the life science, health, health care and tech space cluster-like, whereby they can come together and become an ecosystem on a campus of some sort,” Al-Rais told RENX. 

Initial plans for CLSTP

The goal is to create infrastructure, efficiencies and partnerships that will connect startups with established commercial enterprises. CLSTP wants to attract ideas, people and companies that will move the life science and technology fields forward in Canada instead of having them leave for the United States, where more opportunities have traditionally been offered.

“The future is in technology and I would say the future is in Pharma 4.0 (which involves pharmaceutical companies using the full power of digital technology to provide safe, fast and effective solutions)," Al-Rais said, "whereby you're looking at your current processes and how to make them a lot more efficient, a lot more productive, a lot more transparent and a lot more improved involving all things quality as well as speed."

CLSTP has provided its second submission to the local municipality. Al-Rais expects the needed zoning approvals to be in place later this year and said construction could begin next year. 

CLSTP is to be split into 21 lots comprised of one- to five-acre parcels with an estimated 826,000 square feet of buildable space. Construction will take a phased approach and the park is expected to bring in more than 1,700 jobs once fully developed.

The firm plans to provide tenants with high-performance shells equipped with specific infrastructure such as boilers, chillers, electrical and other key applications beyond typical offerings. Buildings will be able to accommodate single or multiple tenants and CLSTP will work with them to outfit the shells to meet their needs.

The initial phase will involve building the first two shells, which Calderaro said would likely be approximately 16,000 and 40,000 square feet, respectively.

Al-Rais said much of the current effort is to “design and engineer the right space in the first two shells so that it can put us on the map as a go-to attraction when it comes to Canada.”

Al-Rais believes CLSTP’s location will appeal to a wide range of potential tenants, from both the early and later stages of company and organizational development, and allow them to attract and retain top talent.

Partnership with Allyant and IPS

CLSTP recently entered a multi-year partnership with Allyant and IPS to move the project forward at the site at 23349 Woodbine Ave., which is two kilometres north of Highway 404 and within the 500-acre Keswick Business Park.

Allyant is a Concord, Ont.-based project manager, construction manager and design-builder for specialized research and clean manufacturing facilities in the science and technology sectors. 

IPS, a Berkshire Hathaway company based in Bluebell, Pa., develops business solutions for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries through the provision of consultancy, architecture, engineering, project control, construction management and compliance services.

“We want to make a difference in Canada,” Calderaro said. “It's debt-free land and we are probably the only park that's designed and built by pharmaceutical folks.” 

Other potential partners have also expressed interest in supporting and advancing CLSTP, according to Al-Rais.

CLSTP has thus far received seed investment funding from family members, friends and contacts within the business networks that Calderaro and Al-Rais have established over the years. It’s seeking investors through its website and Al-Rais said it will look to involve the private equity market in the next year or two.

Some companies that come on board at CLSTP may prefer to take an ownership stake in their facilities as opposed to being a tenant, and Al-Rais said he’s open to such strategic partnerships.

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