by Andrew Byrne, Marketing and Communications Director, BioNB

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact worldwide economies, highlighting logistical and knowledge gaps in areas such as healthcare and food security, innovators worldwide continue advocating for rapid change. Here in New Brunswick, our bioscience companies have stepped up. 

LuminUltra Technologies, based out of Fredericton under Pat Whalen’s leadership, is well known outside the province in international markets. Founded in 1995, they are a molecular diagnostic testing company headquartered in Fredericton with operations in six countries. Despite having dozens of Fortune 500 customers, they have not been well known in New Brunswick…They are “a global firm with customers and sales network partners spanning from North America to Asia and all points in between. Since our initial launch in 2003, we’ve converted our line of test kits into solutions tailored to specific applications for monitoring and controlling microbes in drinking water, manufacturing industries, energy applications and wastewater treatment.” However, they were not so well known in New Brunswick… that is, until the Prime Minister mentioned their name live on national television.

After Prime Minister Trudeau put out the call for Canadian businesses to step up in any way they could and several regional organizations began to shift their operations to meet the need, LuminUltra stepped up almost immediately after they concluded that they could help in a big way. They began contacting the people they knew could help, including BioNB. “We responded immediately to the Prime Minister’s call to action to join in the fight against this virus by refocusing our team to develop the critical reagents needed for COVID-19,” said LuminUltra Chairman and CEO Pat Whalen. “We are now producing and delivering 500,000 tests per week over the coming year, which is a crucial step towards defeating the pandemic, protecting Canadians and alleviating the human cost of this disease”. As Pat said during an economic town hall event, the government representatives are so busy, that Mr. Whalen “that weekend, probably spoke to about 120 people.” He was able to get a hold of the right people and the company and country have since benefitted. With the help of a few government departments, LuminUltra is now capable of providing 500,000 COVID-19 tests/week nationwide while also expanding their operational facilities and increasing employment along the way.

Innovation has been important in New Brunswick and in Fredericton for some time now. The city has won awards and gained international attention. Whether it be in cyber security or in the biosciences, our region has the capability to do even more. The lessons we learn today, will help guide us towards, what, we at BioNB hope, is a more sustainable and even brighter future for Fredericton and the province. The bioscience organizations that BioNB supports are at the forefront of new technology in health care, agriculture, and value-added/waste-to-dollars processes. These organizations can and have already helped us weather unexpected shocks and will continue as we move forward out of this pandemic.

We are all in this together! Thanks to the tireless efforts of organizations such as LuminUltra, we will get through this uncertain time together and even find opportunity to contribute, grow and thrive.

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