Ontario antes up $580M for C&G therapy plant in Hamilton
In 2017, a plan that could use $252 million to transform the home of Ontario’s junior hockey team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, was outlined, but later recommended against by city staff.
Fast forward to this week, when it seems that no matter how important the Bulldogs are to the community, the government is making a bet that cell and gene therapy manufacturing could be even more important. Ontario’s government unveiled plans for a $580 million new cell and gene therapy manufacturing center set to be built just a 10-minute drive from the stadium. And the government is footing $40 million worth of the bill.
The site will be built at the McMaster Innovation Park, and create at least 250 new jobs by 2024. OmniaBio will work on cures for cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. There will be two buildings, and the site is taking the place of an old automotive manufacturing center. The site will start to be operational by 2024, and it will allow
“This is a factory – it’s not a research lab, it’s not clinical stage activity – so when you think about how to industrialize, how you go to that next scale, Hamilton is the perfect location,” OmniaBio chairman Michael May said to CHCH News at the event’s groundbreaking. “Cell and gene therapy is the medicine of the future. We want to make sure we anchor this innovation with the right strategy toward manufacturing.”
Invest Ontario will give a $40 million loan, in addition to an overall investment of $580 million for the project, and provide “non-financial support” as well, and include help with talent scouting and local skill development partnerships.
“This is the kind of value-added, strategic investment that our government is proud to champion – creating skilled jobs, advancing our healthcare and driving innovation,” Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli said.
OmniaBio spun out of the Toronto-based Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine and builds upon its existing client base. The company’s ultimate goal is to increase its biomanufacturing capacity six-fold. Omnia uses AI to explore patient-specific data, identifying the best disease subgroups to target and designing patient-specific treatment options.
“OmniaBio Inc. will be a game-changer for Ontario and Canada. It will provide missing infrastructure to allow Ontario and Canadian cell and gene companies to remain here, while also attracting foreign companies,” May said in a statement. “Cell and gene therapy is Canada’s opportunity to be global leaders in life sciences. Investing in manufacturing is a key driver, and we’re grateful to Invest Ontario for its leadership and foresight.”
CCRM inked a deal toward the end of 2021 with Cambridge-based immuno-oncology company Exacis Biotherapeutics to manufacture mRNA-engineered natural killer cell products.
Also nearby in Ontario is iPSC specialist Century Therapeutics. The company’s Hamilton space focuses on targeting glioblastoma brain cancer. Ontario makes up more than 50% of the Canadian life science sector.