BC and federal governments invest $300 million in AbCellera's Vancouver campus

May 24 2023, 6:53 pm

The federal and provincial governments have announced a historic investment into Vancouver-based biotech firm AbCellera’s new campus in the Mount Pleasant Industrial District.

With $300 million in combined funding towards the $701 million state-of-the-art campus, it is being billed as the largest single private investment in a life-sciences project in the history of British Columbia.

This includes $225 million from the Government of Canada and $75 million from the Government of British Columbia.

“This partnership will ensure British Columbians see the benefit of access to innovative therapies through clinical trials, while creating hundreds of good jobs and local training opportunities as we position B.C. as a global hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing,” said Premier David Eby, adding that AbCellera is an “amazing local success story” given its roots of emerging out of the University of British Columbia.

The campus, serving as its headquarters and research hub, will include a new preclinical development facility and upgrades to existing facilities, creating over 400 high-skilled and high-paying jobs.

When these facilities reach completion, they will allow locally invented treatments in areas such as oncology and immune diseases, with the treatments developed and trialled in BC. It provides BC with the ability to conduct Phase 1 clinical trials.

Construction progress:

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 110-150 West 4th Avenue Construction May 22 2023

Future East Building site (left) and the completed West Building (right) of AbCellera’s new Vancouver campus; Construction progress at 110-150 West 4th Avenue as of May 22, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Future:

AbCellera 110 West 4th Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the AbCellera campus’ east building at 110 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, with the west building in the background. (Francl Architecture/AbCellera)

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

“With a decade of building our teams, technology and expertise, this co-investment will accelerate the execution of our strategy and bring new treatments into clinical development.”

AbCellera has quickly become an anchor company for Vancouver’s biotech industry, with its growth propelled throughout the pandemic.

In late 2021, given the public health and economic importance of the project, the previous makeup of Vancouver City Council used an expedited review process to approve AbCellera’s rezoning application for its new main campus site on the city block of 110-150 West 4th Avenue — on the entire south side of West 4th Avenue between Manitoba and Columbia streets.

The site’s seven-storey West Building recently reached substantial completion, with City Council approving a vertical expansion of a building already under construction to enable more floor space. But work continues with outfitting this building’s intricate interior.

Construction is well underway on the nine-storey East Building, which is expected to reach completion in 2025.

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 110-150 West 4th Avenue Construction May 22 2023

West Building of AbCellera’s new Vancouver campus; Construction progress at 110-150 West 4th Avenue as of May 22, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 110-150 West 4th Avenue Construction May 22 2023

West Building of AbCellera’s new Vancouver campus; Construction progress at 110-150 West 4th Avenue as of May 22, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 110-150 West 4th Avenue Construction May 22 2023

West Building of AbCellera’s new Vancouver campus; Construction progress at 110-150 West 4th Avenue as of May 22, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 110-150 West 4th Avenue Construction May 22 2023

Future East Building site (foreground) and the completed West Building (background) of AbCellera’s new Vancouver campus; Construction progress at 110-150 West 4th Avenue as of May 22, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Both the West and East buildings on the main campus will have a combined total floor area of 380,000 sq ft of office and laboratory space.

This main campus adds to AbCellera’s existing locations in the area, including the recently completed 45,000 sq ft facility at 2131 Manitoba Street — just half a block south of the East Building on the corner with West 5th Avenue.

AbCellera’s original location in the area is about two blocks west of the main campus at 2215 Yukon Street, where the company has 33,500 sq ft of space.

AbCellera Vancouver Campus 2131 Manitoba Street

AbCellera’s recently completed expansion building at 2131 Manitoba Street, Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

abcellera vancouver office lab locations

Map of AbCellera’s existing and future office/lab locations in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Industrial Area. (AbCellera)

Additionally, construction is well underway on AbCellera’s 130,000 sq ft Good Manufacturing Practices facility for the production of therapeutic antibody treatments. This separate facility at 900 Evans Avenue is just north of Terminal Avenue near Home Depot in the False Creek Flats. The federal government previously committed $175 million in funding towards the cost of building this manufacturing facility.

With Canada’s highly limited capacity to invent and develop its own vaccines and treatments becoming highly apparent at the height of the pandemic, the federal government has been making significant new investments in both the public and private sectors to improve this public health capability.

“In 2020, our government made a promise to Canadians that we would build back our life sciences ecosystem. And today, we are once again delivering on that promise by partnering with AbCellera, a company at the cutting edge of technology. Its project will make sure that Canada is at the forefront of antibody drug development, while also strengthening our life sciences sector,” said François-Philippe Champagne, the federal minister of innovation, science and industry. “We are not only making our country a major player in the global biomanufacturing and life sciences industry, but also boosting Canada’s economy and creating good jobs for Canadians.”

Artistic rendering of the AbCellera Good Manufacturing Practices facility at the 900 block of Evans Avenue in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats. (Chernoff Thompson Architects/AbCellera)

Artistic rendering of the AbCellera Good Manufacturing Practices facility at the 900 block of Evans Avenue in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats. (Chernoff Thompson Architects/AbCellera)

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