2015 created a flurry of activity for MaRS Innovation and our portfolio. As the holidays begin, here are our picks for the top 10 news stories from MI’s portfolio in 2015. We look forward to more exciting developments in 2016.
Top 10 MI Portfolio Stories for 2015
1. ChipCare Corporation, a University of Toronto start-up company with a handheld, blood-testing platform for HIV and other infectious and non-communicable diseases, closed a $5.045 million Series A financing in March. Puffin Partners, LP, of Dallas, Texas led the financing round, which includes existing investors MaRS Innovation and Maple Leaf Angels, and new investors, including the Winfield Venture Group, Epic Capital, and additional Canadian and U.S. Angel investors. ChipCare will use the round’s proceeds to bring its first-generation product to market while developing next generation products. Read more.
2. Encycle Therapeutics, a Canadian start-up emerging as a market leader in finding orally-bioavailable molecules, made two major announcements in 2015. At BIO in June, Encycle announced $840,000 in funding from CQDM and MaRS Innovation to generate a better understanding of the chemical properties required to make small peptide-like molecules, which Encycle calls nacellins, orally bioavailable. In September, the University of Toronto spin-off company completed a $2.85 million (CAD) financing led by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. through its venture capital arm, Takeda Ventures, Inc., with Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator, BDC Capital and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund.
3. WaveCheck is an ultrasound technology that transforms conventional equipment, allowing physicians to monitor a breast cancer tumour’s response to chemotherapy. Invented at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Ryerson University, the technology is now being co-developed with GE Healthcare. The deal, brokered by MaRS Innovation, seeks to turn WaveCheck into a clinical tool to give clinicians and their patients rapid, improved transparency. Read more.
4. Flybits had a busy 2015, securing a second closing of their Series A funding round for a total of $4.75 million. They added Vodafone, one of the world’s largest global mobile carriers, to their existing financing partners that include Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Trellis Capital. The company also formed an exclusive Canadian agreement with TD Canada Trust to create enhanced personalized mobile experiences for their customers, and was named to Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 Companies to Watch list for 2015.
5. eQOL, a UTEST program graduate and Sault Ste. Marie-based company working to enhance patient independence through mobile tablet technology, was covered in the Globe and Mail and secured over $750,000 in seed funding. In February, the Ontario government announced $435,475 in funding for the company’s home dialysis technology; in December, the company received $350,000 from the Ontario Government to support patients managing their kidney dialysis at home.
6. MaRS Innovation deepened and extended our work with Johnson & Johnson in several ways. At JP Morgan in January, MI and J&J announced our collaboration to advance three technologies focused on cardiac, depression and diabetes. In June at BIO, MI announced that we’ve expanded our collaboration to identify early-stage technologies of mutual interest. Also at BIO, MI joined the Neuroscience Catalyst partnership with the University of Toronto and J&J subsidiary company Janssen Inc. and new partners Evotec AG and the Ontario Centres of Excellence to find new ways to treat neurological diseases while fostering company creation in this key area. Finally, MI is a partner in JLABS Toronto, the first Johnson & Johnson Innovation hub to open outside the United States (coming in the spring of 2016).
7. In April, Triphase began their Phase I proof-of-concept clinical study for marizomib, which is being used to treat patients with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumour. The company is evaluating an intravenous (IV) formulation of marizomib, delivered in combination with bevacizumab (Avastin®). The company received Health Canada approval in September and a FDA orphan drug designation for marizomib to treat patients with malignant glioma in November.
8. TrendMD, a graduate of the UTEST program’s second cohort, delivered 450,000 article readers in November through its content recommendation engine. The University of Toronto company’s innovative content marketing solution helps academic publishers to find more readers for their articles while helping researchers to get their work seen, reviewed and cited. TrendMD is now used by 70 STEM-related publishers and has 12 million readers.
9. Xagenic, a molecular diagnostics company developing the lab-free Xagenic X1™ platform for point-of-care use, announced in July that it has raised $15 million (CAD). Each of the company’s Series B investors participated in the financing, including Domain Associates, CTI Life Sciences, BDC Capital and the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation (read more).
10. Beyond the portfolio developments, we had some fun, too. In October, MaRS Innovation partnered with Chris Hadfield‘s inaugural Generator event, a science-based variety show that blended knowledge, perception, music and comedy for an enthusiastic audience at Massey Hall on October 28 (read more). In May, MI staff member Hassan Jaferi got some one-on-one business coaching from the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky (read more).