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December 8, 2020

TIAP announces co-funding of transformative projects with Amgen to support new venture development

Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP) is excited to announce co-investments made with a key strategic partner, Amgen Inc., into three translational life sciences projects from its members: University of Toronto, University Health Network (UHN) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

The TIAP-Amgen partnership, formalized in 2019, has an objective to jointly fund nascent technologies managed by TIAP on behalf of its Toronto-based member institutions. The two organizations collaborate in a proactive manner to identify disruptive technologies derived from transformational discovery research conducted by the scientific community of Toronto. TIAP has reviewed dozens of projects from its membership and together with the partnership’s joint steering committee has identified three projects – two therapeutic projects and one platform validation project – for further investment.

For the Toronto-based academic research community, the partnership enables early engagement and mentorship by corporate drug discovery experts and opportunities for follow-on support and company creation.

The first slate of partnered projects, now underway, represents over $1 million in direct investment. In addition to the capital provided by TIAP and Amgen, each project has dedicated scientific and business expertise from Amgen and TIAP to ensure projects are hitting milestones and have appropriate expertise to support development and ultimately availability and distribution.

The first approved project is in partnership with Dr. Robert Rottapel, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at UHN. The project is focused on developing monoclonal antibodies against a novel target for the treatment of drug-resistant ovarian cancers. In addition, this project has also secured financial support from UHN’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Innovation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

Next is a therapeutic approach in the cardiovascular space, led by co-principal investigators Drs. John Coles and Jason Maynes from SickKids. This drug discovery effort, conducted in collaboration with Evotec through the LAB150 program, is aimed at developing a first-in-class molecule with envisioned applications in heart failure and cardiac fibrosis.

Finally, the most recently approved project is a collaborative effort between Amgen’s Expression and Cell Engineering group and the laboratory of Dr. Shana Kelley, Professor at the University of Toronto. The project leverages the proprietary Microfluidics Immunomagnetic Cell Sorting Device developed by Dr. Kelley’s laboratory, with the aim of substantially boosting the yields of cell-grown biologic products.

Said Parimal Nathwani, President and CEO of TIAP, “It is hugely significant for TIAP and the local health sciences community to work with an important partner such as Amgen. This partnership has already proven its merit by identifying and funding projects in less than a year in areas with large unmet medical needs and by supporting their accelerated progress and funding. With Amgen’s strong engagement, these projects are well positioned to advance through the critical early stages of development and move towards a path for venture creation”

According to Phil Tagari, Vice President of Research at Amgen, “TIAP provides a unique and highly curated vehicle for Amgen’s scientists to access and support cutting-edge biomedical research in one of the world’s foremost centers of innovation and excellence. TIAP very efficiently enabled the identification and funding of the first three opportunities which span diverse areas of interest to Amgen Inc.”

For more information, please contact Susanne Staer at

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