Scrutinizing their economic competitors, the leaders of the province of Ontario weren't pleased with the view. The manufacturing sector wasn't scoring high on the innovation scale.

Action was needed and taken in April 2008 when the Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) launched Ontario's Innovation Agenda, a $3.2 billion strategy to support research and commercialization projects by partnering with research hospitals, universities, private-sector entities and other governments.

See Also: Manufacturing Plant Site Location Strategies

Aggressive tactics are paying off for the province, which not only has replaced all of the jobs lost in the recession but also has added 91,000 new jobs. Of those, 38,000 are in the biotech sector, a particular focus of the strategy.

Asked about employment success, Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation for Ontario Brad Duguid replies, "Talent migrates to where the action is, and the action didn't happen by accident."

In fact, from 2010 to 2012, the Ontario government invested approximately $39.7 million in nine life-sciences companies supporting the creation of more than 500 new jobs, the retention of more than 650 existing positions and leveraging a total investment of more than $400 million.

The province is home to 900 life-sciences companies that produce $9.1 billion in revenue.

Admittedly it took some work to change the traditional university culture that had not been involved in the commercialization of products, explains Duguid. "But everyone is on board now and collaboration is intense between academia, public and private institutions."

Duguid is especially proud of the region's bragging rights since Toronto—Ontario's largest city—is now ranked fourth behind Silicon Valley, New York City and London in the world's top startup ecosystems by Startup Genome.