Vasomune Therapeutics awarded $1.5 million to advance lead asset for renal disease

Vasomune Therapeutics logoTORONTO (October 20, 2014) — Vasomune Therapeutics, a biotechnology start-up founded by Drs. Dan Dumont and Paul Van Slyke of Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) in partnership with MaRS Innovation, has received $1.5 million, in part through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), to advance Vasculotide, the company’s lead Tie-2 activating agent, towards clinical development.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Dr. Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada, announced the funding as part of 12 selected projects under Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), on October 15 in Wallenstein, Ontario.

Parimal Nathwani

Parimal Nathwani, president and CEO of Vasomune Therapeutics Inc.

“We believe that our technology is well positioned to accelerate from preclinical research into clinical development based on its strong data package,” said Parimal Nathwani, president and CEO of Vasomune Therapeutics. “This award, in combination with industry funding, validates the Vasculotide opportunity and gives us the required funds to advance the drug candidate toward the clinic.”

In preclinical studies, Vasculotide has shown to be an effective treatment for multiple renal diseases including acute kidney injury (AKI), which in humans is a possible outcome of kidney function loss that manifests in nearly a third of high-risk cardiac patients. AKI may result from short-term interruptions in blood flow during surgery; 11 percent of patients who develop AKI after bypass surgery will die. People who survive AKI are at risk of developing longer-term kidney complications such as chronic kidney disease or End Stage Renal Disease. Vasomune’s founders conceptualized and designed Vasculotide to bind to the Tie-2 receptor, which is responsible for maintaining vascular health (and thus blood flow).

With this new funding, a third from Vasomune and MaRS Innovation, a third from Genome Canada and a third from a leading multinational pharmaceutical company, Vasomune can transition its program into manufacturing optimization, pharmacokinetics and toxicology studies to prepare for clinical development in early 2016. (more…)

Xagenic announces $6 million GAAP partnership for Hepatitis C testing; appoints president and CEO

Xagenic 2014 logoXagenic Inc., a molecular diagnostics company developing the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20 minute time-to-result, announced October 15, 2014 that its project in partnership with the University of Toronto was successful in securing funding from Genome Canada under the Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

The funding, announced by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Dr. Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada, is part of 12 selected projects under Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), on October 15 in Wallenstein, Ontario.

The project titled “Development of Low Cost Testing Chip and Device for Hepatitis C Testing” was approved with funding up to a maximum of $5,999,865 over three years. The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation is supporting the project with a grant matching the Genome Canada contribution.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage the viral assay development and electrochemical detection expertise in the labs of Dr. Shana Kelley and Dr. Edward Sargent at the University of Toronto to significantly advance our own research programs on several fronts,” said Dr. Graham D. Jack, Xagenic’s senior director of Research and Development. “Under this joint program, we anticipate development of a new lower-cost substrate chip, which will significantly bring down the total cost of our in-cartridge AuRA™ detection technology.

Timothy I. Still appointed Xagenic’s president and CEO

On October 16, 2014, Xagenic also announced that Timothy I. Still has been appointed president and CEO, and will serve as a member of Xagenic Inc.’s board of directors.

This announcement was covered in PE Hub. (more…)

Whirlscape develops predictive keyboard for Will.i.am’s wearable Puls cuff

Whirlscape logoWhirlscape, makers of the Minuum keyboard, have developed a small, predictive keyboard for Will.i.am’s wearable Puls cuff. The company is a graduate of the UTEST program‘s first cohort.

The Puls, announced by the musician and entrepreneur on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at the Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, is expected to be released in time for the 2014 holiday season.

The Puls announcement and Whirlscape’s involvement were covered by Mashable.

Mashable’s Karissa Bell describes how Whirlscape’s keyboard integrates with the Puls:

Puls uses a small predictive keyboard that fits in the very bottom section of the screen. The keyboard was developed by Minuum, the Y Combinator-backed company that has also developed keyboards for Android Wear and Google Glass.

(more…)

Toronto Star features Minuum keyboard’s successful iPhone product launch

Whirlscape founders William Walmsley (left), Severin Smith and Xavier Snelgrove. The company is a graduate of the UTEST program's first cohort.

Whirlscape founders Will Walmsley (left), Severin Smith and Xavier Snelgrove. The company is a graduate of the UTEST program’s first cohort.

UTEST graduate Whirlscape was featured in Raju Mudhar’s Toronto Star article, “Toronto’s Whirlscape debuts tiny Minuum keyboard on iPhone,” which examines the company’s successful launch of their innovative, one-line keyboard for Apple’s iOS 8.

The UTEST program, co-directed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto’s Innovations & Partnerships Office, gives nascent software companies start-up funding, office space, mentoring and business strategy support. Whirlscape was among the program’s first cohort.

The article was published October 6, 2014. Here’s an excerpt:

An Indiegogo success 18 months ago, the company created a tiny keyboard called Minuum for Android devices. Now, iOS and the vast Apple market beckoned. It required new hires, a couple months of round-the-clock development, and a practical rebuilding of their product from scratch so it could be ready to launch with iOS 8. All the work paid off: in the first two weeks of availability, they have sold more than 30,000 apps to the new iPhone audience. (more…)

MaRS Innovation joins new financing round for AvidBiologics Inc.

AvidBiologics Inc.TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2014AvidBiologics Inc., an oncology drug development company, today announced the closing of a financing round. The company is founded on antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technologies co-developed with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

Led by Lumira Capital, the financing round included MaRS Innovation (MI), MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), Rosseau Asset Management, and the company’s founding investors.

This announcement was covered by Dow Jones: Private Equity and Venture Capital and by Canadian Private Equity.

Today’s financing builds on prior support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Business Accelerator Program (MRI-BAP) and other Canadian life science development organizations.

“This financing round enables us to rapidly advance our lead ADC into clinical trials,” said Ilia Tikhomirov, President and CEO. “We would like to thank the NRC and all of our partners for their support as AvidBiologics transitions from a discovery-stage to a development-stage company.”

Dr. Raphael Hofstein

Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president & CEO, MaRS Innovation.

“The high quality pre-clinical package and exceptional leadership team, including pioneers in the development of ADCs, position the company for a successful transition towards clinical development,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MI. “The cooperation among funding organizations, such as those involved in this financing, represents the strengthening foundation on which commercialization within Toronto’s start-up community can be successfully realized. We are glad to be part of this financing syndicate that supports one of Canada’s leading life sciences companies.” (more…)

Kaypok, MI’s director of intellectual property quoted in the Financial Post

Article focuses on importance of intellectual property protection for small businesses

StacyIvanchuck8791

Dr. Stacey Ivanchuk, director of intellectual property for MaRS Innovation.

Dr. Stacey Ivanchuk, MaRS Innovation’s director of intellectual property, was quoted in Denise Deveau’s article, “Intellectual property protection is a game small businesses can’t afford to lose,” for the Financial Post on September 26, 2014 regarding the importance of protecting intellectual property for small businesses.

Here’s an excerpt:

Stacey Ivanchuk, director of intellectual property for MaRS Innovation in Toronto, says that protecting a startup’s technology is important especially from an investor’s perspective.

“One of the first questions investors will ask a company is, what is your IP position? To them it’s something they can talk about as an asset and shows that you are distinguishing yourself,” [Dr.] Ivanchuk said.

Ivanchuk said businesses run the gamut from doing nothing to protect their ideas to filing for patents on every idea that comes out of a brainstorming session. “Too early is not good because it can be a waste of money if the proof you expected down the road doesn’t happen,” she said. “But if you wait too long someone might beat you to the punch.”

Kaypok logoThe article also quotes Atul Asthana, CEO of Kaypok, a tech start-up in the text analytics space spun out from York University in partnership with MaRS Innovation:

In the high tech world especially, it’s not always easy to determine whether something should be protected or not, according to Mr. Asthana. “You have to be able to enforce it. If you do it poorly, you will be giving your ideas away and spending a whole bunch of money. It can become a real cat and mouse game sometimes,” he said. (more…)

Tech Transfer Central features MaRS Innovation’s partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital LogoTech Transfer Tactics, the monthly newsletter for Tech Transfer Central.com, has published a feature highlighting MaRS Innovation’s Technology Transfer & Scouting (MITTS) services to St. Michael’s Hospital.

The interview explores the increase in disclosures and commercial activity achieved after MaRS Innovation began offering technology transfer services to the hospital, and was triggered by a July profile published on MaRS Innovation’s website describing the collaborative working relationship between the two organizations.

The interview includes conversations with Sahail Shariff, commercialization manager in the MITTS division, and Samar Saneinejad, director of strategic projects in the Office of the Vice President of Research at St. Michael’s, explores the success

Here’s an excerpt:

MaRS Innovation, a member institution of the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada, has dramatically increased invention disclosures at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto by providing hospital researchers with an embedded technology transfer expert who offers commercialization guidance and access to other vital tech transfer resources. (more…)

BioDiaspora founder appears on CBC’s “The National” to discuss the Ebola crisis

Dr. Kamran Khan, founder of BioDiaspora, appeared on CBC’s “The National” on September 23, 2014, as part of a health panel examining the current state of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge hosted the discussion.

Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease clinician-scientist at St. Michael's Hospital and founder of BioDiaspora, on CBC's "The National."

Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease clinician at St. Michael’s Hospital and founder of BioDiaspora, on CBC’s “The National.”

Watch the clip on CBC’s website.

BioDiaspora, spun off from St. Michael’s Hospital in partnership with MaRS Innovation, developed an easy-to-access, web-based solution that generates and communicates customized, actionable intelligence about global infectious disease threats in real-time.

(more…)

University of Toronto’s entrepreneurship programs to share over $3 million from province’s Campus-Linked Accelerator Program

UTEST among the four U of T entrepreneurship programs to be funded through Ontario’s CLA program

utestThe University of Toronto will receive $3,056,000 in funding over two years from the Ontario government to increase its training and support for student entrepreneurship.

The funding is part of the Campus-Linked Accelerator Program (CLA), announced today by Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers,” said Minister Moridi. “By partnering with colleges and universities to support entrepreneurship, we are ensuring our province’s business leaders of tomorrow are getting the support they need to succeed today.”

With this funding, U of T will continue to build on its long track record of success in this area by expanding the entrepreneurship opportunities it offers to students, primarily through its four principal accelerators: The Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management), The Hatchery (Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering), The Impact Centre (Faculty of Arts & Science), and UTEST (The Innovation and Partnerships Office, produced in partnership with MaRS Innovation).

The CLA program provides critical funding that enhances the support U of T and MaRS Innovation offer to our current UTEST companies,” said Kurtis Scissons, co-director of UTEST. “It also allows UTEST to expand to work with a greater number of student entrepreneurs in computer software, and is a catalyst for other UT CLA’s to combine their entrepreneurship efforts in a synergistic, complimentary way.” (more…)

Xagenic’s Shana Kelley named to Globe and Mail’s Top 12 Canadian Innovators

Xagenic 2014 logoDr. Shana Kelley, co-founder of Xagenic Inc. and a professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto, has been named to the Globe and Mail’s Top 12 Canadian Innovators list.

The contest solicited nominations from across Canada that were assessed by a panel of judges. According to the Globe, the contest “recognizes talented Canadians who not only have great ideas, but also turn them into reality.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Another innovator who is taking on the traditional way of doing things is Ms. Kelley, a winner in the Health category. Ms. Kelley, a University of Toronto professor and founder of Xagenic, developed a lab-free molecular diagnostic platform that can test for cancer and infectious diseases in the field, with results that are available in 20 minutes.

It’s a product, says Mr. [Dan] Debow, [senior vice-president of emerging technologies at Salesforce] that is in line with a bigger trend that’s happening in health care: the decentralization and democratization of diagnostics. (more…)

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