- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Ontario Invests in COVID-19 Test Kits Made in Thorold
THOROLD — The Ontario government is supporting a more than $13 million investment by Norgen Biotek to scale up production of its COVID-19 saliva-based test kit, with $1 million in support through the Ontario Together Fund. Norgen is investing in its Thorold facilities to support upgrades, modifications and equipment and production materials. The project will scale up production of COVID-19 saliva-based diagnostic kits, including the component saliva collection and preservative devices, ribonucleic acid (RNA) isolation/purification kits, and viral detection kits. Forecasted production capacity upon project completion is 100,000 diagnostic kits per day. This investment is expected to create 105 jobs. Supporting innovative projects like Norgen’s are why Ontario has invested an additional $50 million in the renewed Ontario Together Fund in 2021–22. The fund will continue to support local innovators and businesses to further enhance Ontario’s domestic supply chain capacity, promote Ontario’s MedTech ecosystem and build up our manufacturing sector to ensure the province is well-prepared for future challenges. “Through the Ontario Together Fund, our government is making laser-focused investments in domestic businesses with the ideas and solutions to help us through this pandemic and put us on the road to economic recovery,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Norgen Biotek and their COVID-19 saliva-based test kit is another example of Ontario innovation at its very best as homegrown manufacturers continue to enhance our resilience to any challenge while strengthening our economy.” The renewed Ontario Together Fund is focused on supporting homegrown manufacturing and innovation to combat COVID-19 and providing other goods critical to the health, safety, and security of Ontarians beyond this pandemic. Established in 1998, Norgen Biotek is a biotechnology company focused on developing products for sample collection, sample preparation and sample detection, as well as providing comprehensive research services to the scientific community at its 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. “I want to thank the Ontario government under the leadership of Doug Ford and Minister Fedeli for coming up with the Ontario Together Fund. It is very timely, indeed," said Yousef Haj-Ahmad, President and CEO of Norgen Biotek. “This program has, without a doubt, helped Norgen Biotek and many other Ontario companies overcome the challenges faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program encouraged Norgen to undertake a broad facility expansion, a scaling up of operations, and creating new jobs to meet the demand for Norgen’s products during the pandemic.” "Companies like Norgen Biotek have stepped up to the plate during the pandemic, showing the Ontario Spirit by scaling up production of COVID-19 saliva-based test kits," said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West. "I am grateful for the visionary leadership of Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad and his innovative team at Norgen Biotek, and I am pleased to see this significant Niagara investment from the Ontario Together Fund. This provincial funding will support the fight against COVID-19 and bring new highly skilled jobs to Thorold." Since its launch in April 2020, the Ontario Together Fund has helped businesses with innovative ideas and solutions to retool or adapt their operations to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector and frontline workers. Some successful Ontario Together Fund recipients include:
Empack Spraytech, a Brampton-based privately-owned family operated business, will be manufacturing more than 4 million surface disinfectant wipes in a new 100,000-square-foot Barrie manufacturing facility.
Toronto-based Kinectrics will scale up testing resources for surgical masks and N95 respirators and introduce new PPE testing services for surgical gowns and medical drapes.
Linamar, based in Guelph, retooled its assembly line to manufacture ventilator components to produce 10,000 Ontario-made e700 ventilators, in partnership with O-Two Medical Technologies and Bombardier.
Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With Ontario’s ambitious rollout of vaccines and booster shot distribution continuing to increase, the government is taking further action to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19 and builds on the government’s record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.
Unlike swab-based test kits, Norgen Biotek’s COVID-19 saliva-based diagnostic PCR test kit does not require specialized training to use and aligns with the latest diagnostic testing trends.
Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy brings total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.
Businesses and organizations looking to apply to the extended Ontario Together Fund can now submit through Available Funding Opportunities from the Ontario Government.
2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario
2021 Budget: Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy
Ontario Together: See how your organization can help fight COVID-19