Building Resiliency and Sustainability for the Bio-economy to Withstand Disruption

Main Objectives:

To engage BioTalent Canada’s network to research and evaluate the innovative practices and technologies implemented by agile, resilient, and diverse Canadian bio-economy employers to excel in
highly disruptive economic situations. BioTalent Canada will gather, assess and disseminate these effective models to accelerate their adoption enabling organizations to leverage lessons learned and shock-proof against future disturbances.


March 2021 – September 2022

Project Goals:

As Canada’s evidence-based thought leader on talent in the bio-economy, BioTalent Canada proposes to leverage its partnership network to research the technologies implemented by many of these companies to shock-proof and grow their businesses. By accessing its stakeholders and those of its partner associations, it will conduct COVID response surveys and interviews to tap into crisis resilient bio-economy companies and understand their secrets to success. Through research and evaluation of the LMI gathered, it will develop an agility checklist for companies to follow to embrace change and weather future disruptions. It will create a roadmap highlighting many of the processes, policies and skills development techniques implemented by these companies to evolve, grow and raise venture capital. It will look at the planning and cost to increase agility, the HR tools required to adapt and the barriers to avoid. It will build case studies showcasing some of most innovative ways these companies have become impervious to disruption. By examining the skills required pre-COVID-19 and the skills needed to weather the pandemic, BioTalent Canada will then use the same partnership network to disseminate its findings to help accelerate their adoption within the bio-economy. With many of the discoveries being industry agnostic, they can also be implemented by other sectors with a goal to adapt in the future.


  • Environmental scan and identification of bio-economy companies displaying resilience
  • A marketing and communications plan to engage the industry
  • Gathering of LMI via surveying and interviewing bio-economy companies
  • Resiliency checklist and skills matrix
  • Case studies including one focusing on the positive effects of diversity and inclusion
  • Dissemination of findings to 300 bio-economy organizations through a promotional campaign

Mission Fit/Industry Need:

The Canadian bio-economy is a major contributor to the nation’s economy and is active in all regions of the country. Defined by 4 major subsectors, bio-health, bio-energy, bio-industrial and agri-biotech, the industry significantly impacts health, bioscience, agriculture, electricity, forestry, fishing, information technology, nutraceutical food processing and advanced manufacturing in Canada. The majority of bio-economy companies are small to medium-sized, without a dedicated HR Manager, and are continuously seeking venture capital to sustain activities.

BioTalent Canada has access to industry and academic innovators and thought leaders across Canada. It has forged an alliance with 4 national and 10 provincial industry associations and has aligned with over 70 corporate partners spanning the country, including 20 Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions and several immigrant service agencies. Two of its partners, The Cities of Toronto and Mississauga consist of bio-economy companies that overall represent 55% of the industry in Canada. This industry association/employer partnership network provides BioTalent Canada with access to all facets of the nation’s bio-economy including thousands of employees, job seekers and employers. It is this system that has enabled BioTalent Canada to place over 4000 students in work-integrated learning placements through the Student Work Placement Program since 2017. Over 2900 of these placements have taken place since April 2020, in a post-pandemic environment within agile companies that have been able to successfully pivot.

Through its wage subsidy programs, BioTalent Canada has access to hundreds of employers at a given moment, equipping it with the ability to quickly glean vital information from the industry and act as a conduit for rapid dissemination of resources. Just days prior to the announcement of a pandemic, BioTalent Canada closed its national LMI study arming it with pre-COVID-19 employment data from over 500 bio-economy companies. This information will be particularly useful in providing the bio-economy with a baseline as to the demand and supply of talent prior to the pandemic and the skills most sought by the industry. It will also be a useful tool to better understand the skills required pre and post disruption.

Unlike many sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parts of the bio-economy significantly grew despite the economic and social disruptions faced by Canada and the world. Some areas of the bio-economy such as medical and diagnostic laboratories as well as pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing demonstrated agility and flexibility to quickly shift their activities to leverage their opportunity for growth. These strategies included effective planning, skills development, proactive changes in policies and processes to evolve and exhibit crisis resiliency to seize emerging opportunities. The ability of their leadership to implement innovative technologies to mitigate risk while attracting and developing talent showed responsive solutions to unprecedented challenges.

Building Resiliancy and Sustainability for the Bio-economy to Withstand Disruption is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre    Future Skills Centre logo