Accel-Rx, the national health sciences accelerator, launches as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)

MaRS Innovation among founding partner CECRs; Accel-Rx will provide funds to new biotechnology start-ups emerging within MI’s portfolio

Accel-Rx logoVANCOUVER, BC (Aug. 25, 2014) –With the awarding of $14.5M under the Canadian government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)) Program, as announced earlier this morning by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Accel-Rx – Canada’s Health Sciences Accelerator is officially launched.

Media coverage of this announcement: CBC’s Inside Politics blog, IT Business Net, and the Funding Portal.

This announcement builds on the previously announced strategic partnership between BDC and Accel-Rx to fund Canadian biotechnology start-ups.

The Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator is a national organization focused on maximizing new health sciences company creation, and ensuring start-ups have the resources they need to enable them to stay and grow in Canada and give rise to a new generation of strong health sciences anchor companies. Accel-Rx therein brings together five of Canada’s leading health sciences CECRs to foster pan-Canadian cooperation and directly address the health science company creation challenge in Canada.

These CECRs include:

CDRD Ventures Inc. (CVI), the commercialization vehicle of The Centre for Drug Research and Development will provide the initial management to launch Accel-Rx’s operations. BDC Venture Capital, as recently announced, will further advance Accel-Rx’s mission by acting as the main funding mechanism for companies created at and/or supported by 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 (allowing companies to attract similar, if not greater investments from the private
sector).

In making the announcement, Minister Holder stated “Our Government is investing in the research-business partnerships that move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. As a new CECR, Accel-Rx will support and match Canadian entrepreneurs with new, promising, globally competitive medical technologies that will create highquality
jobs and economic growth in Vancouver and Canada.”

Natalie Dakers, Centre Director of the Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator and President and CEO of CVI said, “We greatly appreciate the support the federal government continues to show Canada’s research and innovation sector, and the strategic investments it has made in both basic research and commercialization. The aim of Accel-Rx is to
maximize the benefits of this public investment in R&D, and foster new growth for Canada’s health sciences industry. It will achieve this by building on and leveraging the established strengths of its network of partner CECRs across the country, and then providing the critically-needed remaining capacity and resources to specifically focus on and support new company creation. In doing so, Accel-Rx will realize the vision it shares with the federal government for the Canadian health sciences sector evolving into a fully-optimized generator of economic prosperity for Canada.”

“MaRS Innovation identifies disruptive medical sciences technologies within our membership, many of which we advance by creating companies,” said Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein, President and CEO. “As an organization tasked with sourcing the financing to bridge these companies and their assets across the seed stage, we believe, based on MI’s experience as a CECR, that Accel-Rx will provide a powerful engine to address seed-stage needs within our own ecosystem and across Canada.”

Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) added, “CDRD is proud to be one of the five founding CECRs behind Accel-Rx, and we look forward to the execution of Accel-Rx’s model to develop health sciences start-ups across this country. Now with the addition of Accel-Rx, we are delighted to see new financing options/vehicles for the most innovative and novel technology opportunities. We are also excited to be building this national nexus for health sciences commercialization right here alongside CDRD/CVI.”

Specific resources provided by Accel-Rx to support new company creation include:

  • Seed capital through its partnership with BDC Venture Capital.
  • Access to a new national network of entrepreneurs to drive and guide company creation
  • Partnerships with the venture capital community to facilitate follow-on financings as well as provide early business feedback.
  • Access to and commercial input from strategic industry partners.
  • Business/finance/development expertise, technical capabilities and specialized infrastructure.
  • Specialized entrepreneurial training to enable young, driven individuals to become the next generation of company creators and bio-entrepreneurs.
  • Regular meetings and events to bring together these investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, industry partners, and technology developers.

By bringing these resources to bear, Accel-Rx, will provide Canada with a new 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.

About the Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator

There is a clear need for a new approach in commercializing health sciences technologies. The gap between academic discovery and commercialization by industry persists, with a continued decline in venture capital investments and negative growth in this key industry. Public investment in health research continues to increase, but the number of
new medicines and companies does not. Accel-Rx will therein act as a national hub to accelerate and create new fundable health sciences companies with high commercial potential, across Canada. Accel-Rx will apply the principles of a traditional accelerator – such as mentoring, seed investment, and access to follow-on investors – while also
incorporating business planning, investment strategies and technology validation/ development using the infrastructure and expertise of the five founding CECR partners to create investable companies based on the best technologies sourced from across Canada.