Investing in biomedical engineering will bolster British Columbians’ health

Students studying at the forefront of biomedical engineering will soon have a new learning environment for the school of biomedical engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“These bright students are shaping the future of health care, here in B.C. and around the world,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “These are the future professionals who will push the boundary of medical innovation and ensure that we have access to life-changing medical advancements. Our government’s investment in this building is an investment in health care for all British Columbians.”

The project cost is $139.4 million, with $25 million from the Province and $114.4 million from UBC. Construction is expected to start in summer 2022 with the building opening for students in early 2025.

Biomedical engineering combines engineering principles with medical sciences to design, create and evaluate equipment, computer systems, and software used in health care. The work includes designing and building artificial internal organs and body parts such as hip joints; designing computer software to operate complex medical equipment such as 3-D X-ray machines; and developing new drug therapies to solve human sickness and diseases.

“This project is a major step forward for solidifying UBC and British Columbia’s position as a world-leading biomedical research and innovation hub. The new building will enable scientific discovery, the development of new technologies and will support the education of the next generation of talented scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Santa Ono, UBC president. “Bringing together researchers, students and staff from UBC’s faculties of medicine and applied science, this nexus of research, entrepreneurship and talent development will enable therapies that improve human health and innovation that help drive economic growth.”

The five-storey building will feature classrooms and learning spaces on the lower floors, with research labs and spaces on the upper floors. The building will consolidate classroom and lab spaces currently hosted in 24 buildings on the Vancouver campus.

“The ability to think boldly and unconventionally is at the heart of biomedical engineering,” said Bianca Kirsh, UBC biomedical engineering student. “With the new school of biomedical engineering building, students will have access to cutting-edge spaces that will support cross-sectoral collaboration, hands-on experimentation and the translation of our creative ideas into disruptive technologies.” 

This project is part of the long-term StrongerBC Economic Plan that builds on B.C.’s strong economic recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities and helping businesses and people transition to clean-energy solutions.

“Developing, attracting and retaining the talent B.C. needs to grow and innovate across our economy is an important part of our StrongerBC Economic Plan,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “The new school of biomedical engineering facility is a key step in our generational commitment to close the skills and talent gap, and make sure British Columbians can gain the skills they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.”


Dr. Dermot Kelleher, vice-president, health, and dean, faculty of medicine, UBC –

“Biomedical engineering has already begun to radically change the world of bio-medicine, but there is so much more to do. A key enabler, this world-class facility will be home to state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms and collaborative spaces where students will train for careers in B.C.’s booming biotechnology sector. It will also be a centre of innovation and collaboration where researchers, trainees and staff from across a variety of disciplines can come together to solve some of today’s most urgent health challenges, while transforming health for patients and community.”

Peter Zandstra, director, school of biomedical engineering, UBC –

“The industry demands more and more professionals from the world-class education offered at UBC. Thanks to this new funding, more UBC graduates will lead our biomedical economy in setting the stage for innovations that will transform patient health and health care around the world.”

James Olson, dean, faculty of applied sciences, UBC –

“The province’s growing biomedical engineering sector receives a tremendous boost from the B.C. government’s investment into this purpose-built educational and research centre. With better space for made-in-B.C. innovation, we can engineer new and improved stem-cell therapies, vital tools and medical devices, and other groundbreaking new treatments. Doctors will be able to diagnose and treat patients faster, to improve and even save the lives of British Columbians.”

Quick Facts:

  • The tech sector in British Columbia is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the provincial economy, generating $34.9 billion in revenue and employing more than 131,000 people.
  • In 2021-22, the Province funded more than 2,600 student spaces in tech programming at institutions throughout the province, and will reach a total of 2,900 funded tech-related spaces in 2023, resulting in 1,000 additional graduates per year.
  • Within that, UBC received funding for 564 student spaces for biomedical engineering, computer science and manufacturing engineering programs at the Vancouver campus, 355 spaces of which are designated for biomedical engineering students.
  • Established in 2017, the UBC school of biomedical engineering is a partnership between the faculties of applied science and medicine, and offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 500 students annually.

Learn More:

For more information on the UBC school of biomedical engineering, visit:

Learn more about the StrongerBC Economic Plan:

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