Home to a dynamic life sciences sector

Nova Scotia's commercial life sciences cluster includes approximately 70 companies across a range of industries, from medical devices to biopharmaceuticals. The cluster is primarily based in Greater Halifax and is represented by BioNova, the Life Sciences Association of Nova Scotia.

Today, the sector is heavily export-focused, and has partnerships with numerous multinational biotechnology giants, including Pfizer, Sanofi Aventis, Merck Frosst, Amgen, Novartis, Schering Plough, Abbott Laboratories, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, and Kytogenics Pharmaceuticals

Why choose Halifax?
  • We have niche strengths in medical technology and software; pharmaceuticals and vaccines; and nutraceuticals and functional foods.

    It should be no surprise that Halifax is a leader in the development and production of marine-derived nutraceuticals, given our proximity to the water and the depth of our science-based workforce. Halifax is home to:
  1. Acadian Seaplants, the world's largest manufacturer of seaweed-based specialty products;
  2. Ocean Nutrition, one of the world's largest producers of Omega-3 supplements;
  3. Ascenta Health, which has the largest share of Canada's Omega-3 supplements market; and,
  4. The National Research Council's Institute for Marine Biosciences, which imploys 120 scientists, technicians and support staff, and undertakes cutting-edge R&D with nutraceuticals and functional food companies.
  • Halifax is Canada’s smart city, with one of the best educated workforces in all of Canada. More than two-thirds of its population has a trade, college or university designation. We have one of the largest concentrations of universities in North America, with a local enrolment of 30,000 students every year. Three universities and one college in metro Halifax alone offer programs important to the life sciences sector. Scientist Magazine has consistently ranked Dalhousie University the #1 university in Canada at which to perform scientific research (2006-2009).
  • Downtown Halifax has one of the largest concentrations of health care facilities and specialists in Canada. They are based at the IWK Health Centre, QEII Health Centre, Dalhousie University Medical School.
  • An internationally-recognized neuroscience and biomedical imaging centre. Canada is one of the world's five leading countries for neuroscience research, and Halifax has among the most neuroscientists per capita of any Canadian city. Recent initiatives in the neuroscience area have resulted in the attraction of major multinational players such as Elekta Neuroscience (MEG), as well as start-up companies like Mindful Scientific, and NeuroVox, and the world's first clinical use of a neurosurgical simulator (NeuroTouch). Major institutional cluster stakeholders include the Capital District Health Authority (CDHA), the IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, as well as various provincial entities. Industry assets include:
  1. The National Research Council Institute for Biodiagnostics (Atlantic) (NRC-IBD Atlantic), focuses on improving diagnosis and treatment of brain illness, advancing the research and development of non-invasive technologies in medicine, and transferring R&D innovation to the clinical and commercial sectors;
  2. The Laboratory for Clinical Magnetoencephalography (MEG Lab), Canada's most advanced MEG lab, designed for "patient-friendly" research that accommodates the development of advanced diagnostics in neurology and psychiatry;
  3. The Biomedical MRI Research Facility (NRL), a multi-user laboratory equipped for a wide array of MRI studies with Industry;
  4. The Dalhousie University Neuroscience Institute, founded in 1990 to promote and coordinate research in neuroscience; and,
  5. The Brain Repair Centre, internationally known for its successful treatment of symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
life cost

  • Major incentives. Whether starting, relocating or expanding a business, you can benefit from a number of incentives at both the federal and provincial level to help you invest in Halifax. We’ll be glad to assist you in identifying the ones that best suit your needs.
  1. Nova Scotia Payroll Rebate
  2. Capital Investment Incentive and Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive.
  3. ACOA's Atlantic Innovation Fund
  4. ACOA's Business Development Program (BDP)
  5. NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
  6. The Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program
  7. Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program (CICP)

Notable Companies

Industry Voices

"There are only a handful of geographical locations that have the ingredients we need to make this kind of growth possible."

Stephen Otto                                                                                                      
Chairman of Elekta Neuromag

"We are excited to grow here in Nova Scotia and we see this province as an ideal location for our global business."

Marc St-Onge                  
President & CEO, Ascenta Health

"The cost advantages of doing business in Nova Scotia is proximity to New England made our decision to come to Nova Scotia an easy one."

Andres Heuberger                                                                                                   
President, ForeignExchange Translations


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