Canadian innovation will give patients affordable, non-invasive, accurate test for cancer or infectious diseases; R&D team to remain in Toronto discovery district TORONTO and SAN FRANCISCO (May 3, 2016) —…
MaRS Innovation’s “model solves the two weakest points in tech transfer: the lack of dealflow and the ability to match public funding,” writes Thierry Heles in, “MaRS Innovation: A Unique Model for Tech Transfer,” for Global University Venturing.
This feature was also covered in Techopia.
The article, which includes an interview with Dr. Rafi Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, was published September 14, 2015.
Here’s an excerpt exploring the range of MI’s portfolio and Hofstein’s strategy for addressing technologies emerging in new areas:
In the beginning, Mars received primarily discoveries in the medical sector, but the balance has since shifted to 60% medically-oriented research and 40% for other areas. The medically-oriented discoveries, Hofstein elaborated, are a diverse set of technologies and include everything from drug development and molecular diagnostics to medical devices and healthcare IT.
The remaining 40% meanwhile cover “a smörgåsbord all the way from alternative energies and solar energy, and water reclamation to all sorts of mobile apps”.
TORONTO (July 9, 2015) — Xagenic, a molecular diagnostics company developing the lab-free Xagenic X1™ platform for point-of-care use, today announced that it has raised $15 million (CAD). Each of the company’s Series B investors has participated in this financing, including Domain Associates, CTI Life Sciences, BDC Capital and the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation.
In June, Xagenic also announced it has acquired exclusive rights to a mutation detection technology with potential applications to liquid biopsy testing. The electrochemical clamp assay technology was developed by University of Toronto Professor and Xagenic Founder (now CTO) Dr. Shana Kelley. Genome Web covered the news in June and July 2015.
“This investment round is a testament to the faith our existing investors have in the power of the Xagenic X1™ platform and the promise of our enzyme-free approach to molecular diagnostics,” said Timothy I. Still, Xagenic’s CEO. “This funding will accelerate our development efforts in bringing our point-of-care diagnostic platform to market.”
Xagenic’s rapid, lab-free, molecular diagnostic system affords a large market opportunity created by a significant, unmet medical need for point-of-care diagnostic solutions. Because of its highly scalable, consumables-driven business model, Xagenic is well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity with a differentiated product offering and unique menu strategy.
MaRS Innovation today announced that Johnson & Johnson Innovation has expanded its collaboration with MaRS Innovation to identify and advance early-stage technologies of interest.
The announcement was made in advance of the 2015 BIO Convention, which takes place from June 15 to 18 in Philadelphia, PA. MaRS Innovation is participating as part of the Ontario delegation and will have kiosk space in the Ontario pavilion (#615).
Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and MaRS Innovation announced their research partnership to advance three technologies focused on improving cardiac surgery outcomes, developing a blood test for depression, and identifying a diagnostic metabolite for both gestational and type 2 diabetes patients. The projects’ principal investigators are researchers from the University Health Network (Peter Munk Cardiac Centre), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (with Indoc Research) and the University of Toronto.
“Johnson & Johnson Innovation is an excellent partner that understands exactly the kind of technology pipeline MaRS Innovation represents,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO. “Renewing their longstanding relationship signals the value they see in this partnership with MaRS Innovation, our members and researchers within our network.”
U of T professor shares tips to her team’s commercialization success
When it comes to bringing research from the lab to the market, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Shana Kelley knows firsthand what it takes. She’s co-founder of Xagenic, a MaRS Innovation and U of T start-up company that’s developed the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20-minute time-to-result based on her research with fellow U of T colleague Professor Edward Sargent.
In her guest blog post for the Ministry of Research and Innovation, Kelley outlines what she’s learned through her experience in the commercialization process (emphasis ours):
1. When ready to commercialize, look in your own backyard for investment and support
When the Xagenic technology was mature enough to consider commercialization, we started to call venture investors all over the world to see if we could get them to back the company. We always got the meetings we wanted, and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement, but it was difficult to get people engaged. We were fortunate to get seed funding from a group of local organizations including MaRS Innovation, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Innovation Acceleration Fund (IAF), and Ontario Centres of Excellence and then finally found the group that would eventually be our Series A lead investors, CTI Life Sciences Fund.
With CTI, we immediately got the traction we had been looking for from a venture investor that indicated genuine interest in the company. When we later made the rounds for the Series B investment outside of Canada, we repeatedly heard the comment: “we’re glad to see you could do the Series A in your own backyard.”
When I probed about why this was important, I found that the investment community thinks it is important to have your early investors as close geographically as possible. The level of interaction when a company gets off the group needs to be fairly intense — being geographically closer helps entrepreneurs and investors keep in better contact. This is definitely not a hard-and-fast rule, but I found it interesting that many investors had this perception. And it creates a particular challenge for Canadian companies given how little venture capital is available locally!
Collaboration will advance early-stage technologies and identify high-potential opportunities related to human health
TORONTO, Nov. 25, 2013 – MaRS Innovation (MI), a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, today announced a new collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and its affiliate Janssen, Inc., in Canada to advance early-stage technologies related to human health in therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics.
Through the collaboration, MaRS Innovation and technical experts from the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston, Massachusetts will jointly identify and fund high-potential opportunities emerging from well-validated scientific research discoveries within MaRS Innovation’s 16 member institutions, which include the University of Toronto and its affiliated teaching hospitals.
“We are looking forward to working with Johnson & Johnson Innovation,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO, MaRS Innovation. “There are many high quality opportunities coming out of the Toronto research community, and these opportunities can benefit from our close collaboration.”
Through the agreement, Johnson & Johnson Innovation will provide funding over a three-year period to support promising individual projects based on joint due diligence, which will be leveraged with financial support from MaRS Innovation.
Applications invited for MI’s Industry Access Program, which matches early-stage, high-potential technologies to partners and funding
This program provides a simple mechanism to connect researchers with MI’s industry partners. The process and application form are intentionally brief to save researchers time and allow MI’s partners to review a wide range of remarkable technologies within the Toronto academic community in a short period of time.
“Many granting programs require an industry partner, but leave finding that partner to the researcher,” says Parimal Nathwani, vice-president of life sciences at MI. “Our Industrial Partnership Program completes that step for them. We also know researchers within our member institutions are incredibly busy, which is why we’ve adopted a streamlined process to save them time.”
The program is open to any researcher affiliated with our 16 member institutions working on technologies in:
- medical devices
- health IT
President and CEO Dr. Raphael Hofstein speaks on healthcare innovation in Toronto
In an October 30 article, Yonge Street Media‘s Andrew Seale spoke with MI’s president and CEO Raphael Hofstein on the booming healthcare innovation coming from Toronto since 2005.
Seale’s article is the first of a two-part series on technological innovation.
In the article, Hofstein credits the city’s intellectual infrastructure and access to healthcare resources for allowing innovation to flourish.
Three of MI’s start-up companies are also mentioned in the article.
Here’s an excerpt (links and emphasis our own):
“The Intellectual Property that is being generated in Toronto (is) a major chunk of the IP that’s being generated across Canada,” he says.
He points to ChipCare Corporation‘s state-of-the-art handheld analyzer, which allows doctors to run multiple diagnostics on a patient’s blood on site as opposed to bringing the patient to the clinic. The University of Toronto developed cell analyzer could prove to be a game changer in the fight against HIV. “Lab-in-a-chip” technology like this is crucial in third world countries where healthcare access is severely limited.
Xagenic’s AuRA platform—another diagnostic tool for blood samples—uses ultra sensitive microelectrode arrays (nano-sensors) developed by another team of researchers at University of Toronto. The inexpensive tech makes it possible for molecular diagnostic testing outside of labs.
MaRS Innovation-backed ApneaDX has developed a clinical-quality sleep-monitoring tool. Previously, diagnosing for sleep apnea—a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal breathing patterns—often required an expensive overnight stay at a sleep clinic. The device is a fraction of the cost and records the data on a chip, which is then analyzed by the company’s software.
Device could significantly improve HIV diagnostics in developing world
OTTAWA, September 16, 2013 — An innovative, handheld point-of-care analyzer, developed by ChipCare Corporation, has secured one of the largest ever angel investments in Canada’s healthcare sector.
Phase II financing has closed, with an investment of $2.05M to support ChipCare’s continuing development and commercialization over the next three years.
The financing evolved through a uniquely collaborative funding model among Canadian social angel investors, including Maple Leaf Angels, MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto (Connaught Fund), with special financing leadership from Grand Challenges Canada and the Government of Canada.
This op-ed on Canadian biotechnology and the knowledge economy appeared in The Hill-Times (subscription required), Canada’s politics and government newsweekly, September 9:
Obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or the more general stresses of an aging population: no matter which area of concern holds our collective gaze from moment to moment, improving health outcomes and healthcare is the No. 1 challenge for the world’s economy.
Canada has the holistic approach and translational research necessary to address health care’s pervasive challenges, with particular strengths in biotechnology.
In 2007, the Government of Canada made advancing translational research a top priority through the Science and Technology Strategy, with emphasis on cancer, metabolic disorders and, most recently, neurology, as part of the government’s response to the burdensome realities of neurodegenerative disorders.
Scientific research has made significant progress in unraveling the underlying causes of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but translating these findings into useful clinical treatments is the key to attaining meaningful accomplishments. Only clinical treatment successes will alleviate pressure on the economy.
Transformational research is the essential first step in this process, but even more importantly, it needs to be put in the hands of those who can translate it into realistic and useful outcomes for patients in particular and society in general.
Thanks to research analytics that capture publications, citations, and other significant metrics, we know Canadian researchers punch above their weight, particularly in medical research. Canada’s challenge is not the quality or quantity of our research ideas but our ability to commercialize those ideas and translate them into market-ready products.
Aware of and concerned by this gap between fundamental basic research and useful patient, social, and economic outcomes, the Canadian government established the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program in 2007. Part of the internationally-recognized Networks of Centres of Excellence suite of programs, the CECR program is a unique collaboration between the three federal granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), along with Industry Canada, and Health Canada.
Designed to bridge the challenging gap between innovation and commercialization, the CECR program matches clusters of research expertise with the business community to share the knowledge and resources that bring innovations to market faster.
MaRS Innovation was among the first CECRs to be created in 2008, largely based on the founding belief of its members that Toronto is a fertile research land for precisely this kind of translational activity.