FREDERICTON – The province has formed a biosciences task force to grow the industry in New Brunswick.

Thor Olesen – the executive director of the regional Atlantica BioEnergy Task Force that focuses on the forestry sector – will chair the new provincial biosciences task force.

Speaking at the conclusion of a one-day industry conference hosted to celebrate National Biotechnology Week on Tuesday, Olesen said the group’s job will be to devise recommendations to government on how to promote sector growth.

“We’ve been provided a fairly broad mandate in what we think we can contribute,” he said in an interview, adding that the volunteer-run group will identify barriers preventing success for firms and academics and look to share industry knowledge.

The Biosciences sector is among five industry focus clusters for Business New Brunswick.

The department’s minister, Victor Boudreau, told a luncheon audience at the Crowne Plaza Fredericton – Lord Beaverbrook hotel that the sector “has the capacity to transform our economy,” and serves as the “predominant economic force of the 21st century.

The biosciences task force met for the first time last Wednesday; a budget has not yet been decided on, Olesen said.