Canada’s Capital City Attracts Life Sciences Expertise

Associations are successfully aligning meeting content featuring e-health, medical devices, & biopharmaceuticals with resources in Ottawa.

When the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig) was planning its 2018 conference, the organization found a partner in its host city of Ottawa; the town prioritized iMig’s goal of ensuring meeting content aligned to the available resources. Members of Ottawa’s life sciences and tourism communities collaborated to ensure that this year’s meeting ran smoothly from beginning to end, often overlapping to achieve that goal.

iMig Conference Manager Sukwhan Chung commended Ottawa officials, including those at the University of Ottawa, for help organizing, developing and promoting the meeting worldwide.

“Ottawa did a really good job starting the bid, connecting with officials who spread the word to their own networks”, he says. Not only that, but “we saw a huge number of abstracts this year, which translates into delegates for us.”

Ottawa may not be formally known as “The City of Innovation,” but an argument for such a title would hardly be opposed. Ottawa is a burgeoning hub of life sciences expertise, leading the nation with its efforts in e-health, medical devices and biopharmaceuticals. iMig is not alone in selecting the city as their host destination; a number of associations across the life sciences spectrum are discovering the benefits of holding their meetings in the Canadian capital.

Conference attendees have a wide array of resources to aid their research and professional development, from the newly revamped Canada Science and Technology Museum — featuring an extensive library and archives — to the National Research Council, the largest research organization in Canada and birthplace of the cardiac pacemaker. There are also two life science-oriented Networks of Centres of Excellence in Ottawa, the Stem Cell Network and Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment. These scientific entities and many more come together in an environment that lends itself to world-class meetings.

“Because we have this ecosystem in place, it naturally leads to people wanting to put on conferences in the city,” says Lesley Mackay, Director of Meetings and Events at Ottawa Tourism.

A wealth of homegrown talent is packed into this city of just under 1 million people. It’s easy to form relationships throughout the life sciences industry and draw upon local expertise, especially with the second-highest concentration of scientists and engineers in North America in one city.

One of attendees favorite resources is the University of Ottawa’s LIFE Research Institute, a multidisciplinary effort to help people achieve longer, healthier lives. A second: the university-affiliated Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, with acclaimed research programs in cancer therapeutics, chronic disease, clinical epidemiology, neuroscience and regenerative medicine.

Other local innovators include Turnstone Biologics, which is making inroads in cancer-fighting viral immunotherapies, and Clearwater Clinical, inventor of the automated iPad audiometer. Ottawa takes pride in its pool of talent, and is eager to share its knowledge of the life sciences sphere with visitors from around the world.

Cross-sector collaboration is one of Ottawa’s strengths, bringing experts of all backgrounds together in one compact but mighty community. There’s also a strong network facilitating these partnerships. Ottawa Tourism works closely with groups such as Invest Ottawa, which promotes entrepreneurial development in the city, to showcase its life sciences offerings and attract relevant associations.

“That’s something that’s really unique to us, just the sheer alignment of industries,” Mackay says.

The cooperation among Ottawa’s various industries takes the stress out of conference planning process as well. Meeting planners can easily find the resources and support they need to get the most out of their time in the city, whether that means finding the optimal conference venue or exploring the city’s renowned arts and entertainment scene. Delegates can catch a show at the National Arts Centre or Ottawa Little Theatre, shop for crafts and specialty foods in the ByWard Market neighborhood or learn about sites of historical significance on a bicycle tour of the city.

Ottawa is a city that thrives on making connections within and across industries. Whether you have questions about the logistical side of your meeting or want to find opportunities for experiential learning, Ottawa has you covered.

This article is brought to you by Business Events Canada. Learn more about planning your next life science event in Ottawa, or reach out directly to receive our knowledge maps, designed to help you determine exactly why Ottawa is the best fit for your meeting content.”