New Canadian health sciences accelerator launched at Bio 2014

3725_BIOTEC_CanadaCafe_Logo_finalHoping to address the gap between academic discovery and commercialization by industry in Canada, a group of Canadian CECR’s along with  BDC Venture Capital have launched a new national hub for health science company creation.

The announcement was made at the BIO International Conference taking pace in San Diego, CA. The new entity, called the Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator (Accel-Rx) will focus on maximizing new health sciences company creation, and ensuring start-ups have the resources they need to grow and become a new generation of strong health sciences companies.

In all, Accel-Rx brings together five of Canada’s leading health sciences Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) to foster cross-Canadian cooperation and directly addressing the health science company creation challenge in Canada. They include:

  • The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD);
  • MaRS Innovation (MI);
  • The Vancouver Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development (PC-TRIADD);
  • The Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM); and,
  • The Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC).

CDRD Ventures Inc. (CVI) will provide the initial management to launch Accel-Rx operations, while a proposed seed funding partnership with BDC Venture Capital would be the main funding mechanism for companies created at Accel-Rx, with the intent to invest in up to three to four companies annually, with that number potentially increasing as the partnership progresses. Selected companies would each receive a $500,000 convertible note from BDC Venture Capital, which we hope will allow companies to attract similar, if not greater investments from the private sector.

“The fact is: the healthcare industry in Canada holds great promise, with over $6 billion invested in basic research annually. However, a gap exists in terms of transforming this research into commercially-viable businesses. We believe that our collaboration with Accel-Rx will help tackle this problem,” commented Jérôme Nycz, executive vice president, subordinate financing and venture capital at BDC. To date, all BDC-backed accelerators have been in primarily the digital media and ICT sectors. This proposed partnership marks their first step in expanding their support to the health sciences sector.

Natalie Dakers, president and CEO of CVI, and the inaugural Centre director of Accel-Rx added, “Together with our network of partner CECRs across the country, Accel-Rx is now supporting the next stage in the development continuum, and acting as a robust national accelerator for new company creation. With the new resources it brings to the table, Accel-Rx will provide Canada with a more well-informed, well-resourced, and effective approach to company creation; and ensure that opportunities arising from the country’s strong foundation of innovative discovery research and technology development are fully capitalized upon through the launching of a critical mass of robust companies based on exceptional innovative, pre-validated (scientifically and commercially) technologies.”

“Over the last seven years, the CECR program has demonstrated its value as a pan-Canadian engine, greatly improving the commercialization prospects for biotechnology assets in this country,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MI’s president and CEO. “Creating companies around these most promising early-stage technologies allows for investment and is a crucial step in advancing them to market. This collaboration between Accel-Rx and BDC Venture Capital will provide new opportunities to address seed-stage funding rounds for health sciences companies prior to Series A financings or other strategic alliances. We at MI look forward to providing opportunities to Accel-Rx for new company creation.”

In all, Accel-Rx will deliver five key Program Pillars: Business Planning and Investment Strategy Development, Funding, Technology Development Planning, Mentorship, and Access to Infrastructure (through preferred partnerships with the five founding CECR organizations noted above).

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