UTEST company Nvest is bringing accountability to investment recommendations

Nvest LogoNvest, a University of Toronto company, is gaining traction as a financial technology (or fintech) start-up to watch. Nvest is part of the third UTEST cohort, which is an early-stage technology incubator program co-directed by MaRS Innovation and U of T (read more about the UTEST program in our portfolio section).

utestIn the last month, Nvest has been profiled in both TechVibes and Investment Executive as a company to watch both as a social network for stock picking and as a tool to bringing accountability to investment recommendations.

Jacob Serebrin writes for TechVibes:

Fredrick Zhou says there’s something wrong with the way people recommend stocks online.

“People don’t take responsibility for their actions, their words and their recommendations,” Zhou says.

He’s the co-founder and CEO of Nvest, a new social network for stock pickers that he says will bring accountability and transparency to a broken system. (more…)

Sunnybrook forms new industry partnership to advance WaveCheck technology

Co-development agreement, brokered by MaRS Innovation, to advance ultrasound chemotherapy monitoring technology as clinical tool

WaveCheckTORONTO (March 12, 2015) — Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and MaRS Innovation today announced a co-development agreement for WaveCheck, an ultrasound technology that transforms conventional equipment so that physicians can monitor a breast cancer tumour’s response to chemotherapy.

This announcement was covered in Biotechnology Focus, Aunt Minnie.com (radiology blog), dotmed.com, Bio-Medicine.org, Bloomberg Business and Research Views.

The partnership with GE Healthcare, brokered by MaRS Innovation, seeks to develop WaveCheck as a clinical tool that gives clinicians rapid, improved transparency to determine if breast cancer tumors are responding to chemotherapy.

WaveCheck image

In early clinical testing, WaveCheck’s inexpensive, non-invasive, image-guided technology (shown here) shows promise as an accurate, efficient way to monitor tumour response. Sunnybrook has partnered with GE Healthcare to co-develop WaveCheck as a clinical tool.

WaveCheck is a clinical technique invented, refined and tested by Dr. Gregory Czarnota, chief of Radiation Oncology at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre, and Michael C. Kolios, professor of Physics and associate dean, Research and Graduate Studies, in Ryerson University’s Faculty of Science. Their technology uses ultrasound to visually demonstrate whether chemotherapy is destroying a breast cancer tumour at the beginning of chemotherapy treatment in as little as one week. If applied to the clinic, this knowledge has the power to transform patient experience, since existing breast cancer patients typically wait until the end of treatment, anywhere from four to six months, to know if their tumor has responded.

In early clinical testing, WaveCheck’s inexpensive, non-invasive, image-guided technology shows promise as an accurate, efficient way to monitor tumour response, opening the door to tailored treatment.

The agreement leverages GE Healthcare’s extensive ultrasound technology and market expertise in bringing new ultrasound innovations to global hospitals and clinics with Sunnybrook’s leadership in oncology research and cancer care through the Odette Cancer Centre. (more…)

ChipCare closes oversubscribed $5 million series A financing

With lead investment from Puffin Partners, the Ontario, Canada-based company is taking lifesaving blood-testing technology to low- and middle-income countries

ChipCare device

ChipCare’s technology will provide simple-to-use, mobile, lab-quality blood testing for remote health settings. The University of Toronto start-up company’s first HIV-related test, targeted at linking people with HIV to appropriate treatments, is scheduled to hit the market in late 2016.

TORONTO, March 3, 2015 — ChipCare Corporation, a University of Toronto start-up company commercializing a handheld, blood-testing platform for HIV and other infectious and non-communicable diseases has closed a $5.045 million Series A financing to bring its first-generation product to market while further developing the platform’s next generation products.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Venture Capital Dispatch blog, Yonge Street Media, BetaKit and PEHub covered this announcement, along with the University of Toronto’s news site. Information about past ChipCare  investment rounds and other company information is available in our ChipCare news archive.

Insufficient access in remote health settings to simple, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests makes it difficult to provide timely, evidence-based clinical care. Current technology within central laboratories cannot fulfill the existing need in remote health settings, including community level health facilities, remote communities, emergency departments, ICUs and doctors’ offices. The result is millions of preventable deaths from infectious and non-communicable diseases globally, reduced economic growth, and limited human development.

Chipcare CorporationChipCare’s technology will provide simple-to-use, mobile, lab-quality blood testing in remote health settings. The company’s first HIV-related test, targeted at linking people with HIV to appropriate treatments, is scheduled to hit the market in late 2016. The company is developing other products that leverage unique attributes of ChipCare’s technology.

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. (more…)

Triphase Accelerator announces new cancer collaboration with Sunnybrook Research Institute

Triphase-logo-WebTORONTO and SAN DIEGO (Feb. 26, 2015) — Triphase Accelerator Corporation has entered into an academic center collaboration with Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI), the research arm of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a MaRS Innovation member institution. MaRS Innovation is also a Triphase investor.

Sunnybrook Research InstituteUnder the agreement, SRI will assist in the development of Triphase’s novel, first-in-class, fully human bi-specific antibody TRPH 011 and evaluate the role of bifunctional targeting of VEGFR-2 and TIE 2 receptors in cancer. TRPH 011 binds and neutralizes VEGFR-2/KDR and TIE 2 receptors simultaneously, resulting in sustained inhibition of tumor growth and angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels and a fundamental step in the transition of tumors from a benign to a malignant state).

Under the terms of the agreement, Triphase will provide funding to the laboratory of Dr. Robert S. Kerbel, senior scientist in the Biological Sciences Platform at SRI. Dr. Kerbel and his colleagues will evaluate TRPH 011 in preclinical pharmacology models. Triphase will use the findings to advance the TRPH 011 program toward an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing. (more…)

Portfolio round-up: UTEST, Nvest and Whirlscape news

utestSometimes there’s so much happening with the MaRS Innovation portfolio that it’s hard to stay on top of all the news. Here are a few UTEST program stories that we missed in February.

  • UTEST was named to FundThrough.com’s list of “6 Exciting Canadian Startup Accelerators to Watch in 2015.” Program co-directors Mike Betts and Kurtis Scissons point out that UTEST does take an equity position in the incubated companies and does not run on a grant basis as mentioned in the article. (It’s a sweetheart deal, but not that sweet.)
  • Nvest LogoUTEST company Nvest was featured in a Globe and Mail story, “Next big sector to face disruption? Financial services” by Brenda Bouw. Here’s a quote:
    “Another emerging fintech startup is Nvest, an early-stage, crowd-sourced stock recommendation platform. Nvest compiles recommendations from its users, many of which are average retail investors, and builds a performance history others can track. The credibility of recommendations is based on a user’s past performance. Nvest co-founder Fredrick Zhou likens it to LinkedIn for stock recommendations. ‘Nvest is a place where investors post their trading resume.’ Investors are taking notice. Nvest recently received funding from the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology program and it is in the process of pitching the business to angel investors.” (more…)

Life Sciences Ontario publishes first substantial benchmarking data for sector’s performance

LSO Building Blocks

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. (more…)

Ontario government announces over $400,000 for eQOL’s home dialysis technology

EQOL logoSAULT STE. MARIE, February 13, 2015  — eQOL, a Sault Ste. Marie-based company working to enhance patient independence and a graduate of the second University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) incubator’s second cohort, has received $435,475 from the Ontario Government. David Orazietti, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, made the announcement on February 13, 2015.

This announcement was covered by BetaKit, The Sault Star and SooToday.com.

The funding, which includes $415,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and $20,475 to hire an intern under the Northern Ontario Internship Program also through NOHFC, will allow eQOL to complete clinical studies using their Dialysis Platform for Communication, Assistance and Training (DiCAT) product.

David Orazetti and Binh Nguyan

MPP David Orazetti (left) and Binh Nguyan (centre), CEO of eQOL, at the Northern Ontario Internship Program announcement on February 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of SooToday.com.

“With this support from our government, eQOL is able to use their innovative new technology in clinical studies – the first step towards commercializing the technology,” said Orazietti. “This software will not only enhance the quality of life for dialysis patients, but will also benefit our health care system and community as it streamlines processes and alleviates strain on hospital resources.”

DiCAT, a mobile technology solution for independent/home dialysis, aims to simplify and reduce the intimidation that patients experience with this self-care process. Its iPad and web-based applications provide enhanced connectivity, access to resources, and process management, which will promote a shift from in-centre care to in-home care. Successfully completing the clinical study and implementing DiCAT will allow patients who live far away from healthcare centres to receive care at home without having to relocate, which will have a great impact in northern regions. (more…)

BioCentury features ScarX Therapeutics as emerging company

ScarX TherapeuticsScarX Therapeutics, a MaRS Innovation start-up company from the Hospital for Sick Children, was featured in “Scars Defaced,” a BioCentury emerging company profile by Michael J. Haas.

The profile is available to BioCentury subscribers on their website (paywall in place).

Here’s a short excerpt:

ScarX Corp. has reformulated a generic analgesic that is marketed primarily in Europe into a topical cream that patients can self-administer
after surgery to prevent scarring. The company expects cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons to be early adopters of its topical nefopam, and
thinks patients will pay out of pocket.

Nefopam is a non-opioid analgesic that is marketed in Europe, Australia and parts of Asia in oral or IV formulations to treat pain, but is not approved for use in North America. ScarX has exclusive rights from The Hospital for Sick Children to one issued patent and five patents pending covering the use of nefopam as an antiscarring agent, and its topical formulation. (more…)

CoursePeer and National Franchise Group partner to launch Franchise University

Signarama Canada first global franchise group to rollout solution

CoursePeer LogoTORONTO, January 29, 2015  — CoursePeer Inc. and National Franchise Group have partnered to launch Franchise University, a service offering global franchise groups a powerful cloud-based training and collaboration solution for their franchisees. Signarma Canada, the global sign industry leader ranked 28th on Franchise Direct’s Top 100 Global Franchises list, is among the first brands to join.

CoursePeer, a University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation company that provides learning and collaboration solutions for enterprise and government, will begin a full rollout of Franchise University solution for Signarama in the first quarter of 2015.

Companies involved in Franchise University“Training a new hire and retraining existing employees can be very difficult and a time-consuming task for a franchise operator.  Cloud-based approved training allows staff to be trained and retrained without losing focus on the franchise’s daily operations,” said Ghassan Barazi, CEO of National Franchise Group.

CoursePeer’s platform allows organizations to design and upload advanced training curriculum for the various departments while leveraging its authoring tools. Additionally, off-the-shelf training courses are available in marketing, sales, customer service, project management, and other topics. CoursePeer was launched and incorporated through the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology program (UTEST)’s first cohort; the company announced a partnership focused on increasing civic-engagement with municipal issues involving several Greater Toronto Area municipalities in 2014. (more…)

Funding call: MaRS Innovation Industry Access Program (MI-IAP) accepting applications to February 6

Researchers working in orphan indications, immuno-oncology, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and other key areas invited to submit a brief Statement of Interest

The commercialization process: Moving transformational ideas from the lab bench to the street

MaRS Innovation’s commercialization process helps inventors move their transformational ideas from the lab bench to the street.

The MaRS Innovation Industry Access Program (MI-IAP) is a simple, formalized process for marketing early-stage technologies to MI’s industry partners: Baxter, LifeLabs (formerly CML Healthcare), GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and IRICoR/Merck.

The program’s goal is to secure funding for researchers within MI’s membership through these collaborative, strategic R&D partnership programs.

The program is open to any researcher affiliated with MI’s 16 member institutions working on technologies in:

  • Orphan indications
  • Immuno-oncology
  • Respiratory system diseases (e.g., Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer, etc.)
  • Diabetes
  • Neuroscience
  • Orthopaedics
  • General surgery

Successfully run in November 2013 and March 2014, the MI-IAP allows researchers to easily determine whether an industry partner is interested in co-developing their technologies. The application process is deliberately brief at the outset. (more…)

Welcome to MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation commercializes the most promising research breakthroughs from 15 of Toronto’s top universities, institutions and research institutes. Our portfolio, built through over 1,000 intellectual property disclosures from our member institutions, turns discoveries into businesses through industry partnerships, licensing arrangements and start-up companies.

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