Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

AbCellera draws $300M in government funding

Funding to help AbCellera with its new $700 million biotech campus
François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, was in Vancouver Wednesday announcing $225 million in federal funding for AbCellera. | Nelson Bennett

Federal and provincial officials announced $300 million in funding today for the new $700 million biotech campus to be built by AbCellera (Nasdaq:ABCL) in Mount Pleasant.

AbCellera has emerged as one of B.C. most successful biotech companies. The company’s prospects soared during the COVID-19 pandemic because it makes the therapeutic antibodies used in the development of drugs used to treat COVID-19.

Its antibodies have been used to treat more than 2.5 million patients.

The company landed a number of partnership agreements with major drug companies, like Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY), and went public in December 2020 with an initial public offering that raised more than US$483 million.

With a market cap of $2 billion, AbCellera is now one of B.C.’s top life sciences company. The company is expanding its headquarters in Mount Pleasant and plans to invest $700 million in a new research campus in Mount Pleasant for new drug development, manufacturing, and clinical research.

The federal government is contributing $225 million towards the new facility through its Strategic Innovation Fund, and the B.C. government is contributing $75 million.

“This project, and the commitment to co-invest alongside the governments of Canada and British Columbia, is a major step towards building the capabilities in Canada to translate scientific breakthroughs into new medicines that will benefit patients here and around the world,” said AbCellera founder and CEO Carl Hansen.

“This project is going to see AbCellera develop a state-of-the art biotech campus,” said Premier David Eby. “One that’s going to bring a brand new, pre-clinical development facility with significant upgrades to the existing facility. 

"It’s going to create at least 400, high-paid, highly skilled jobs. It’s going to enable locally developed drugs here to treat things like cancer and auto-immune diseases, including arthritis, to be trialed and produced right here in British Columbia.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said his government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a commitment to build out Canada’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector “so that we would be better prepared to face any future pandemic.”

Since March 2020, the federal government has invested more $2.1 billion in life sciences, including the $225 million announced Wednesday.

“For me this project is all about….excellence and making sure that we will support AbCellera’s growth as an anchor firm here in Canada,” Champagne said.

Federal Natural Resources Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, said when he was a clean-tech executive, the lack of anchor companies was one of the chief concerns for developing a clean-tech eco-system in B.C.

"Anchor companies are critical for attracting, developing and retaining talent," he said. "They spur positive feedback loops in investment, spinoffs, collective learning, talent attraction. They help us to build a strong community and overall eco-system.

"So it gives me great pleasure to see that AbCellera is becoming just such an anchor firm."

One thing AbCellera is developing at its new lab is the ability to do phase 1 clinical trials for new medicines developed there. Its initial focus will be on cancer and auto-immune diseases.

(Editor's note: The original story has been updated and corrected to reflect that the $700 million for the new biotech campus is committed, not already spent.)

[email protected]