PEI

Federal funding to help Charlottetown bioscience company meet 'significant need' for its products worldwide

Somru BioScience is poised to expand its Charlottetown-based facility and workforce, to meet growing demands around the world. 

'There's a critical need for these life-saving medicines'

Somru BioScience develops antibody technology for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Somru BioScience is poised to expand its Charlottetown-based facility and workforce, to meet the growing demands the company has around the world. 

As part of federal funding through the CanExport program, which helps small to medium-sized companies, a grant of $21,500 has helped the emerging biotechnology firm sign a joint venture with a Bangladeshi company.

It's expected to create as many as 100 jobs over the next five years and $50 million in export sales for the company, which develops antibody technology for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

The company has grown to employ 20 people over the past 12 years. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The company's co-founder and vice-president of project management and regulatory affairs, said funding from CanExport more than a decade ago helped the company establish itself to export products from Canada all over the world.

"That gave us that bit of a push, established us and now we're hoping to expand that a lot more and expand our market reach globally," Clarinda Islam said.

The Charlottetown-based bioscience company exports to 20 countries worldwide. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The company, which opened in 2012 with two employees, now employs over 20 people in Charlottetown and exports to over 20 countries.

"We are planning on having some planned facility expansion," Islam said.

"We have a couple of options open on the table and we might take a little bit of both. We are both planning on expanding the facility and perhaps looking for an established building."

'There is a big push'

Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade diversification, was in Charlottetown Thursday to tour the facility and meet with company officials. He said the funding helps diversify P.E.I.'s economy.

"With diversifying our exports, it will increase our markets, increase our exports, it will also smoothen perhaps the seasonality of our businesses," Alghabra said.

"It's important for an economy like P.E.I., that the traditional economy tended to be seasonal."

'Now we're hoping to expand that a lot more and expand our market reach globally,' says Clarinda Islam, co-founder of Somru Bioscience. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

In all, CanExport funding totalling $243,200 is helping to support nine small and medium-sized projects across the province. That includes funding for Top Dog, a company that produces protective clothing for a range of industries and Mussel King, a family-owned mussel-processing company.

"We have quite a bit of significant need for the products that we have worldwide especially in the developing countries where there is a big push and a big initiative for having these biologics more widely accessible," Islam said.

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