2013 was an exceptional year for MaRS Innovation. Here are the top 10 news stories from our commercialization portfolio.
1. MaRS Innovation secures a $15 million CECR funding extension
This achievement reflects and recognizes the quality of the startups and licensable technologies within the MaRS Innovation portfolio, as well as the rigour of its business model and the achievements of its team and academic founders. The extension also ensures that MaRS Innovation will have the resources required to achieve financial sustainability by 2017.
2. Xagenic completes $20 million Series B financing round
MaRS Innovation’s first startup company, Xagenic Inc., is developing the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20-minute time-to-result based on research by University of Toronto professors Shana Kelley and Edward Sargent.
On December 2, Xagenic announced that it successfully closed a Series B financing round totalling $20 million. New investor Domain Associates, LLC led the round, joined by existing investors including CTI Life Sciences Fund and the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund.
The announcement follows Xagenic’s successful fundraising history, which includes a $10 million Series A round and a $1.04 million seed funding round, the latter of which included a $1 million investment by the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), with participation from MI.
3. New strategic partnerships with global pharmaceutical companies
These strategic partnerships allow industry to co-develop promising early-stage technologies in collaboration with MaRS Innovation.
- At the BIO International Convention in April, Pfizer Inc. announced that it will work with MaRS Innovation to advance early-stage technologies related to human health in therapeutics and diagnostics.
- Also at BIO, Merck Canada announced that it would provide $4 million in funding, in collaboration with MaRS Innovation and the Centre for Drug Research and Development, to the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer Commercialization of Research to reinforce its commitment to the Canadian life sciences research innovation sector and to identify, develop and commercialize technologies in healthcare.
- In November, Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centers announced the expansion of its 2010 strategic partnership with MaRS Innovation through a new collaboration involving its Innovation Centre in Boston and Janssen Inc. with the purpose of identifying and advancing promising bio and pharmaceutical technologies that have the potential to impact human health.
- In December, MaRS Innovation announced the first technology to be co-funded through its strategic partnership with Pfizer. Stuart Berger, senior scientist at University Health Network, has developed an innovative technology that generates cell lines with improved protein production and survival properties, which are important in the industrial production of therapeutic proteins.
4. ChipCare lands $2.05 million for Phase II financing
The technology brings state-of-the-art blood testing to patients, instead of asking the sick to travel to labs that are often difficult for them to reach. The $2.05 million investment will support ChipCare’s continuing development over the next three years, including the refinement of its functionality and development of a more robust prototype.
5. Flybits launches mobile traffic app with City of Ottawa
On November 18, Flybits, a MaRS Innovation and Ryerson University startup, announced the release of a free mobile application called Ottawa Nav. The new traffic management tool for residents of the City of Ottawa uses the Flybits platform to provide real-time traffic information to residents, from construction updates and collisions to speed limit notifications in construction and school zones.
6. Bedside Clinical Systems’ flagship product earns FDA approval
In October, Bedside Clinical Systems, a MaRS Innovation and Hospital for Sick Children startup, received regulatory approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration for its flagship solution, Bedside Paediatric Early Warning System (BedsidePEWS).
BedsidePEWS tracks a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, as part of routine clinical assessments and outputs a single score to indicate the child’s severity of illness.
7. OtoSim sells over 500 units
OtoSim Inc., a MaRS Innovation startup, reached an industry milestone by selling close to 500 units of its bridge-gaping otoscopy training technology and software in its first year, exceeding its target of $1 million in one year.
8. UTEST’s first cohort demonstrates market traction
Technologies from the first cohort of the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program, one of Canada’s most valuable accelerators, saw great success in 2013.
- UTEST was named one of Canada’s true startup accelerators and released technologies from the program’s second cohort in the spring.
- Granata Decision Systems founders Craig Boutilier and Tyler Lu appeared on CBC’s “Lang & O’Leary Exchange” and CBC News’ “The National,” highlighting their technology’s ability to show marketers the effectiveness of their campaigns by providing real-time data on resources, including budget. The company’s algorithms evaluate entire sets of marketing campaigns in a portfolio, replacing the need for manual assessments and reviews.
- Whirlscape’s Minuum keyboard, a one-dimensional keyboard for Android and Windows mobile phones, reached the No. 2 position in Google’s “Top New Paid Android Apps.” Minuum uses half the screen space of traditional keyboards without losing any elements. This followed the company’s successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than $87,000—over 870 per cent above Whirlscape’s modest initial goal of $10,000—from nearly 10,000 supporters who became beta users for the product. The Minuum campaign was one of Indiegogo’s top 10 campaigns of all time and is No. 2 among all technology campaigns.
- Crowdmark launched its flagship product after successfully concluding a private beta of its web-based grading application, which has a paper-to-cloud bridge and marking workflow that streamlines document assessment on a massive scale. Earlier in 2013, Crowdmark also completed two pilot projects working with teachers in Grades 3 and 6, and made the front page of peHUB Canada. Recently, Crowdmark also received over $500,000 from MaRS Innovation and friends and family to cover the cost of an extensive pilot in Canada and the United States.
9. ApneaDx Inc. among three companies to join MaRS EXCITE
MaRS Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE) helps companies accelerate the adoption and reimbursement of innovative health technologies through a single, harmonized pre-market evidence-based process. ApneaDx Inc., a MaRS Innovation and University Health Network startup, was selected as one of the program’s first participants. The ApneaDx team has created an easy-to-use affordable home-based device for diagnosing sleep apnea, a condition characterized by abnormal breathing or cessation of breathing during sleep.
10. BioDiaspora garners global recognition of its disease-tracking technology
In addition to incorporating this year, MaRS Innovation and St. Michael’s Hospital start-up BioDiaspora received widespread national and international coverage of its technology. Based on the research of company founder Dr. Kamran Khan, the technology uses global air traffic patterns to predict the international spread of infectious disease.
Khan was cited in a New York Times Bits article on the big data solutions evolving to track the global spread of disease. He also published research in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, assessing the impact of airport screenings in containing the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in Mexico.
Posted by Kailee Travis, writer and communications assistant.