HomeGovernment announces BioCommons first building

Government announces BioCommons first building

Jan 25 2011

The Guardian
January 25, 2011
Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island’s BioCommons Research Park will see its first structure taking shape over the next three months but the manufacturing centre will only become a reality because of a significant investment of taxpayers’ money.

The BioCommons Manufacturing Centre will cost $4.65 million. The federal government is contributing $2 million. The P.E.I. government is providing a $2.65-million repayable loan.


Premier Robert Ghiz defends the investment even as his government tried to rein in spending to deal with a $55-million budget shortfall. He said as tenants move into the new facility and start to pay rent the province will get its investment back.

“There’s a lot of interest out there already,” Ghiz told The Guardian.

“There’ll definitely be some exciting announcements coming.”

Bioscience is a growing industry in Prince Edward Island.

More than 100 new jobs have been added in the industry last year, according to the P.E.I. government.

The industry, which tries to commercialize products in the Island’s resource industries of fishing, forestry and agriculture, has revenues of more than $80 million.

The BioCommons Research Park, now under construction in Charlottetown, is a 65-acre parcel of land that the province hopes will allow it to capitalize on that growing industry.

Bob Chapman, director of research for the National Research Council in Charlottetown, said the new facility will give new and emerging companies a place to setup and build their products. He said his facility on the campus of UPEI is now full so the new facility is badly needed.

“I imagine that you will see a facility like this attracting some good tenants to the Island,” said Chapman.

“You’ll probably see a facility like this relatively quickly filled up.”

Jason Cleaversmith, who spearheads the bioscience file for the province, said the facility will be home to five companies to start. He said as those companies grow they will expand to facilities outside of the manufacturing facility, which will make room for new upstart bioscience companies.

“I think it will be those companies that fit well with our core activity and focus on P.E.I., so those that are involved in natural products, those involved in animal health, those that are involved in the personal care area,” he said.

Not everybody is singing the praises of the new building.

Opposition Innovation critic Mike Currie said there is lots of vacant space that could have been used in the West Royalty Industrial Park, which would have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.

“I think they are scrambling to try and find ways to quantify this prosperity plan which hasn’t achieved anything but create a job for Michael Mayne,” said Currie, making reference to the deputy minister of innovation.

“I don’t see the 2,000 jobs they promised us. His prosperity plan has failed.”

However, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, a former Conservative cabinet colleague of Currie’s, praised the investment, saying companies will go elsewhere if the facilities are not here to meet their needs.

“It represents another step in the growth of this industry,” said Shea.

“It shows there’s a commitment to support technology and innovation, and to support diversifying the economy. That’s so very important for a small province like Prince Edward Island that we have a diversified economy.”

The 30,000-square-foot manufacturing centre will be constructed adjacent to the Upton Road, near the West Royalty Industrial Park.

Tim Banks’ APM Group will construct the building.

Tenders were called on the project last November.

Ghiz said with growing interest in the BioCommons Research Park, he feels there may be a need to build more buildings.

“This is the first initiative. If this building fills up in a hurry and more facilities are going too be needed then we’ll have to build more buildings.”

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