Montreal-based venture capital fund and entrepreneurship program brings over $20 million in funding and deep expertise in consumer electronics to MI members; first deal in speech recognition TORONTO and MONTREAL,…
MaRS Innovation and its member institutions are is profiled in International Innovation‘s July issue (#191) in a feature interview with Dr. Rafi Hofstein, MI’s president and CEO, written by Rosemary Peters.
The article is posted on the publication’s website and viewable through a digital interface (pages 80 and 81).
Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Hofstein’s comments:
“Canada’s academic research community is internationally highly competitive, but it has been argued that its scientific commercial success tags behind other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. While this remains a matter of debate, I do agree that we need to continually encourage additional sources of seed capital to join is so as to allow for accelerated advancement of early-stage technologies. Industry needs to become much more engaged in advancing early-stage (and promising!) technologies emerging from the academic sector, which are usually young and in significant attention, navigation, management expertise and seed capital provisions. These are areas of rising importance in Canada, as many innovations fall into the ‘valley of death’ due to a lack of proper funding, or they leave the country and flourish in the U.S. where funding is more abundant.
TORONTO, ON (April 23, 2015) — Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) applauds the government’s continued commitment to supporting life sciences through the Ontario Health Innovation Council and its accompanying $20 million innovation fund, programs to support job creation for Ontario’s highly educated young workforce and a new approach to providing the venture capital needed to support the commercialization of technologies and growth of companies in the life sciences sector.
Specifically, LSO notes the following commitments from the 2015 budget that will help drive innovation in Ontario:
- Endorsing the Ontario Health Innovation Council report, which will establish a $20 million Health Technology Innovation Fund and appoint a chief innovation strategist to act on the report’s recommendations.
- Funding the TalentEdge Program, which provides internships for graduate and postgraduate students and is integral to boosting campus-linked industrial research while developing and commercializing the innovative ideas of young researchers.
- Committing $23.5 million over five years to help establish the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation Centre at Baycrest Health Sciences, a world leader in cognitive neuroscience, and $25 million over five years to support the recently established Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM).
If you work in the life sciences in Ontario, your wages are approximately 26.5 per cent higher than those of the provincial average. On the other hand, if you’re a recent science graduate, you’re facing a challenging unemployment rate of 18.9 per cent.
These are only two of the data points described in the Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) Sector Report 2015, which is the first of its kind to provide well-defined data that clearly measure and report on the sector’s benchmarking and its economic contributions. It also gives policymakers evidence-based data to benchmark Ontario’s performance, such as approximately 83,000 highly skilled workers, against other North American jurisdictions.
MaRS Innovation is a member of the LSO, which has also published an infographic summarizing the 2015 sector report’s findings. This announcement was covered in BetaKit.
“In the past, making accurate comparisons was virtually impossible due to inconsistencies in both data and methodologies,” says Jason Field, LSO’s president and CEO. “As the voice for the life sciences community, it’s our role to research and publish a report that would substantially quantify and articulate the sector’s impact. We want to help Ontario’s life sciences sector reach its full economic and social potential, which will benefit all Ontarians. Producing a sector report to establish a baseline and help inform policy decisions is a key milestone in that process.”
Some of the report’s highlights include:
- Ontario’s Life Sciences generates approximately $40 billion in annual revenues.
- That revenue translates to approximately $38.5 billion in total contributions to Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- The life sciences employ approximately 83,000 highly-skilled workers at more than 5,600 establishments in Ontario.
- Ontario’s sector ranks among the top clusters in North America (top ten by employment and top three by establishments).
- The sector’s job growth outpaced the provincial average by nearly 10 per cent between 2001 and 2013, showing resilience during the 2008 economic downturn.
Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published a guest column by MaRS Innovation President & CEO, Dr. Raphael Hofstein.
The article explores the role life sciences assets, financing and talented management–the three Ms–must play in revitalizing Canada’s biotechnology sector:
At the close of the 20th century, Canada was perceived as a key contributor to the success of the global biotech voyage.
You know what happened next: the mechanisms to fund early ventures collapsed together with the collapse of the Canadian venture capital industry Finding suitable investment for early-stage technologies became incredibly challenging. Facing a dearth of opportunity, talented management sailed for other harbors.
It’s satisfying that on the eve of the 2014 BIO Convention, some indicators suggest to me that we are witnessing a rebound. But to accelerate our pace while holding this bearing, Canada needs to address certain strategic elements.
At MaRS Innovation, we call them the three Ms: merchandize, management and money.
MaRS Innovation’s (MI) Lyssa Neel, co-director of the UTEST program and project manager, has been selected to represent MI’s ICT start-up companies at the TechWomen Canada program in San Francisco, which runs May 13 to 16, 2013.
The announcement was covered in TechVibes:
TechWomen Canada is run by the Canadian Consulate and is focused on providing Canadian women leaders in the ICT sector an opportunity to expand both professional and business networks in Silicon Valley.
Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, delivered a guest lecture on February 1,2013 at the Revitalizing Medical BioTechnology Commercialization symposium, hosted by Stanford University‘s NIH Graduate Training Program in Biotechnology.
The one-day event brought academic, venture capital and industry thought leaders together to reflect on the challenges facing technology transfer processes across the biotech industry.
MI spin-off company one of 30 listed in North America and the United Kingdom
Luke Timmerman‘s article, published December 3, 2012, sited Xagenic as one of only 30 “exciting biotech startups” to raise significant venture capital (at least $5 million) in the life sciences sector.
Xagenic, founded by Drs. Shana Kelley and Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto, was also the only Canadian company named to the list.
Sean Fine‘s article examines the strategic funding partnership MI pursued with NovoTek Therapeutics Inc. (NovoTek) in China to develop the anti-scarring cream, which was discovered by researchers at SickKids.
A multibillion-dollar market may await ScarX, a Toronto biomedical start-up, but first it had to figure out how to finance the development of its unique cream that reduces scarring after surgery.
Its answer to the shortage of Canadian venture capital in life sciences turned out to be a partnership with a drug company in China.
Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, was interviewed by Huffington Post Canada business reporter Rachel Mendleson for an article about Canada’s innovation gap and the shortage of Canadian venture capital:
One of the best ways to [raise venture capital], said Raphael Hofstein, President and CEO of Toronto-based MaRS Innovation, is to increase government investment, a lesson he learned while helping to create a life sciences early-stage fund in Israel several years ago.
“Everybody told us — institutions, industry — that they will not participate unless government has a piece of the pie. So governments have to participate, certainly in the early stage,” he said.