Jadco Group and precision medicine laboratory services firm CellCarta have announced a $350-million investment to create a major new life sciences centre at the former Montreal Chest Institute, in the city’s downtown health corridor.
The multi-phased project Bio Innovations Montreal will develop 450,000 square feet of what its creators call “state-of-the-art laboratories, offices and collaborative spaces”.
It was announced Thursday afternoon at the Effervescence – the Future of Life Sciences conference at Bonsecours Market in Montreal.
"For many years, researchers, startups and investment firms have decried the glaring lack of state-of-the-art laboratories in downtown Montreal, at the heart of the life sciences research and training ecosystem, near universities, hospitals, research centres and the business community,” Normand Rivard, managing partner, life sciences and innovation, Jadco Group, said in the announcement.
A more vibrant Montreal life sciences sector
While Toronto dominates Canada’s life sciences sector, Hamilton, Vancouver and Montreal are among the country’s other significant hubs. The concept behind this project, which is also near the McGill University Health Centre and a nearby hub of firms focused on the artificial intelligence sector, is to help move Montreal among international leaders in the sector.
“One of the greatest challenges faced by life sciences companies remains recruitment and retention of the skilled personnel they require for their development, in a context of shortage of qualified workers,” Rivard said in the release.
“Montreal is therefore facing strong competition, at a time when several major North American and European cities already have well-established life sciences hubs in the heart of their downtown areas that serve as major growth drivers.
“However, Montreal has all the assets to become one of the most dynamic and promising international life sciences hubs. This project is a perfect response to the needs expressed by the ecosystem and will allow Montreal and Quebec to maintain their position as leaders on the international scene.”
Renovation of Montreal Chest Institute buildings
Existing buildings at the site, which have been vacant since 2015, will be renovated and expanded to accommodate Bio Innovations. The redevelopment is already under way, and the second phase is to include construction of a additional building at the property.
As part of the first phase, CellCarta will move its Montreal headquarters and laboratories into the renovated property. The company has about 350 of its global workforce of over 1,050 employees based in Montreal. It has a total of 11 facilities in Canada, the U.S., Belgium and China.
CellCarta supports the drug development cycle, from discovery to late-stage clinical trials, for the biopharmaceutical industry. It offers integrated analytical platforms in immunology, histopathology, proteomics and genomics, as well as related machine learning and artificial intelligence data analytics and sample logistics services.
The expansion of CellCarta’s facilities is anticipated to help the area attract additional investment from major pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, research institutes, researchers and startups.
The reimagining of the buildings by architectural firm NEUF Architect(e)s includes a glass atrium and areas with large floor-to-ceiling windows, a conference and training centre, a rooftop terrace, and other features.
In addition, collaborative spaces, including state-of-the-art laboratories, along with professional services and a scientific entrepreneurial startup accelerator, will "facilitate the creation, growth and success of the next generation of life sciences companies".
Growing the Montreal life sciences sector
Inspire Bio Innovations will be designed to host a variety of uses, including early-stage drug development projects and startups through the various clinical phases, allowing them to benefit from the proximity of all major clinical sites and CellCarta's expertise in clinical trial design and regulatory expertise.
"We are very proud to be associated with this highly structuring and promising project for the future of the life sciences sector and of downtown Montreal,” Martin Leblanc, co-founder and vice chair of the board of directors, CellCarta, said in the release.
“Having chosen to establish our laboratory operations and headquarters in downtown Montreal over 12 years ago, CellCarta is delighted to have found a site and a project that fully meets our strategic ambitions of reuniting all our Montreal employees under one roof and of securing the longer-term growth and sustainability of our operations in Montreal."
Founded in 1987, Jadco Group designs, develops and builds residential and industrial projects, with a focus on the life sciences ecosystem. Jadco and its institutional partners have accumulated over $1.2 billion in investments in Quebec.
The company also acts as a property manager.