The Big Read

Nowhere to grow: Canada’s biotech sector is booming, but a lack of lab space has some companies looking south

Artisan Bio wasn’t meant to be a Canadian company. When CEO Ryan Gill launched the cell-engineering firm in 2019, he imagined his chief development officer, Nick Timmins, would soon relocate from his Toronto home base to the firm’s headquarters in Louisville, Colo. Instead, Timmins convinced Gill to establish a permanent office in Canada, where they could hire from the deep local pool of health and engineering talent.

Less than three years later, Artisan is questioning its decision to put down roots in Toronto.  While the talent was as Timmins promised—the company now has 15 employees in the city, many of them working on the firm’s custom engineered cells to be used in therapeutics, and plans to double its staff—Artisan has outgrown its lab space, and hasn’t been able to find more. It’s one of dozens of biotech companies facing this problem, and the possibility of their growth in Canada being stunted. With nowhere to expand in Toronto, Artisan is now considering scaling up its operations in the U.S. after all.

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