The B.C. government has provided $195 million in grant funding for two health research groups as part of a promise in the recent budget to support the life sciences sector.

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon says $116 million will go to Michael Smith Health Research BC and Genome BC will get the remainder to spur innovation.

Kahlon says the province is home to the fastest-growing life sciences sector in Canada and the funding is aimed at attracting and retaining top researchers.

He says virtually every COVID-19 vaccine that reached late-stage development in 2020 was developed or manufactured in B.C., and the province wants to leverage that contribution towards learning how to deal with future pandemics.

Kahlon says the funding could also help advance research in a range of areas including the development of new medications, rapid diagnostic tests for diseases, clean technology and sustainable ways to produce food.

Genome BC is one of six such regional centres in Canada and was founded over 20 years ago to lead genomic innovation in collaboration with industry and academia in sectors like health, forestry and the environment.

Michael Smith Health Research BC was created around the same time as a funding agency that supports researchers in the training phase of their career.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2022.