Ontario Investing in New Innovative Hub to Grow the Life Sciences Sector in Kitchener and Waterloo

April 17, 2023

Ontario Invest Innovative Hub UWaterloo

$7.5 million investment will support a new state-of-the-art Innovation Arena for start-ups

The Ontario government is investing $7.5 million to help build a state-of-the-art Innovation Arena at the University of Waterloo. The new $35 million facility will be a hub for innovation in Ontario’s life sciences sector in Kitchener and Waterloo, supporting the development of new health technology and the commercialization of intellectual property and encouraging investment and job creation.

“It’s great to see the Team Ontario spirit in action with the University of Waterloo, the private sector and all levels of government coming together to build this world class facility,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we continue to grow our province’s life sciences sector, the new Innovation Arena will accelerate the development and commercialization of made in Ontario innovations, create new jobs and help to attract investments to Kitchener and Waterloo.”

Premier Doug Ford

The University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener are partnering to build the new 90,000 square-foot Innovation Arena. The facility will include a health-tech incubator and a small business centre with a shared wet lab for local entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Innovation Arena will be become a focal point in Southwestern Ontario for innovation partnerships, collaboration among businesses, industry and researchers.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, Ontario has attracted nearly $3 billion in investments by global biomanufacturers. The new Innovation Arena will build on this success by supporting the discovery of innovative new health technologies.

“Ontario has a long history of innovation in the life sciences sector, and the Innovation Arena will help many more Ontario start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovations bring their ideas to life and to market,” said Minister Fedeli. “With this investment, we’re ensuring that Ontario remains a global leader in innovation and the life sciences sector now and for generations to come.”

Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade

“Ontario has a world-class postsecondary education system and is home to innovative start-ups and scale-up firms,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By fostering collaboration among businesses, researchers, and community partners, the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena will help fast-track the discovery, development, and commercialization of made-in-Ontario research, bringing ideas from the lab to market sooner – a key part of our government’s plan to maximize the value of Ontario-grown innovation.”

Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities

The Innovation Arena supports Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level, the province’s first life sciences strategy in a decade. As part of this strategy, Ontario launched a $15 million Life Sciences Innovation Fund to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas from the lab to the marketplace. This early-stage fund, managed through the Ontario Centre of Innovation, will help companies advance made-in-Ontario solutions like vaccines and medical treatments.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario continues to be a leading jurisdiction for investment and job creation. In 2021, Ontario recorded more than half of all venture capital investments in the entire country at $8.4 billion, including nearly $847 million in the life sciences sector. Ontario is the largest life sciences jurisdiction in Canada, generating 59 per cent of overall Canadian revenue. There are approximately 1,900 life sciences firms across the province, and the human health life sciences sector employs more than 70,100 people in Ontario.
  • The world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies by revenue (and others) conduct clinical trials in Ontario. These include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis, Merck & Co, Pfizer, Bayer, AbbVie, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi.
  • Ontario has the third largest number of information and communications technology (ICT) establishments in North America and is home to more than 408,000 ICT workers.
  • Every year, more than 65,000 STEM students graduate from Ontario postsecondary institutions, producing one of the most highly-skilled life sciences workforces in the world.
  • The Innovation Arena supports Ontario’s efforts to advance the commercialization of made-in-Ontario research and intellectual property through the Intellectual Property Action Plan.
  • The med-tech industry generated about $18.7 billion in revenue in 2020 and employs about 30,200 people in Ontario. It includes globally significant companies like GE Healthcare, Medtronic and domestic success stories like Trudell Medical and Synaptive Medical.


“Waterloo Region is home to some of the best and brightest health care and technology researchers in the world, and today’s investment will help ensure our province remains a leader in this vital sector for years to come. I am excited that our government continues to attract game-changing and economy-driving investments to Ontario like the University of Waterloo’s new Innovation Arena. It has been an honour to work with the fine folks at the University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener to see this project come to fruition.”

Mike Harris
Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener – Conestoga

“Our government listened when people asked for investment in the Innovation Arena. Waterloo Region has long been a source of excellence in healthcare, technology, and innovation. This investment shows our local forward-thinking initiative is being noticed. I’m incredibly excited to see great new ideas getting their start right here at home.”

Jessica Dixon
Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener South – Hespeler

“This investment in the Innovation Arena at the University of Waterloo is great news for our region and the province of Ontario. Our government is committed to ensuring Ontario is a leading force of job creation and investment, and this new state-of-the-art facility will help achieve that goal.”

Brian Riddell
Member of Provincial Parliament for Cambridge

“Innovation in Health Care to improve the quality of life of the residents we serve is a priority for the City of Kitchener and cities around the world, and that’s why City Council’s first major investment from Kitchener’s Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) 2.0 was $8.5 million towards the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena to support our growing health technology start-up and scaleup ecosystem. Today’s groundbreaking for this new facility shows what is possible when all 3 orders of government work together with the private, not-for-profit and academic sectors to create new local businesses and jobs, expand the local innovation ecosystem, and create an investment environment that serves as a gamechanger for Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and beyond.”

Berry Vrbanovic
Mayor of Kitchener

“The Innovation Arena will play a crucial role in expanding the impact and scope of the University of Waterloo’s flagship incubator Velocity. Waterloo continues to take a leading role in connecting research breakthroughs in nanotech, AI and quantum information to innovative health solutions. The Innovation Arena will enable the collaboration and connections among researchers, talent and health care practitioners while supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from start to scale.”

Dr. Vivek Goel
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo


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