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Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: CVCA

Reactions to Canada’s 2010 Federal Budget

Reaction in the biotech and innovation community to the 2010 budget was generally positive, since they (we) got something in a year when most groups got nothing.  As Rob Annan put it over at Researcher Forum:

“What a difference a year makes… Funding increases, though relatively small, are made more significant by the context of spending restraint evidenced elsewhere in the budget.”

There was also much celebration of the demise of Section 116, including from BIOTECanada (pdf), and the CVCA, both of which had recommended the change, and from Communitech, the organization that represents Waterloo Region tech companies.  Mark McQueen over at Wellington Capital blasphemously refuses to hail the event as Our Salvation, pointing out that (1) there has been a lot of investment by U.S. VCs even with 116 in place, (2) U.S. VCs aren’t having a great year either, and (3) those that are may not be as excited as we hope about early-stage Canadian deals.

Directly funded organizations wrote prompt thank-you notes:

  • TRIUMF, slated to receive $222 million over the next 5 years for its work on particle and nuclear physics, described the budget as a “firm commitment to science & technology.”
  • The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), seeing its $10 million in funding, characterized the move as an “investment in young entrepreneurs.”

Others, perhaps encouraged by this year’s $75 million allocated to Genome Canada following last year’s kerfuffle, have been quick to point out other flaws they perceive in the budget as well:

Biotech Trends in 2010: Top Three Reasons Why Biotech Companies Should Use Social Media

Tech startups use social media avidly [rabidly?], but biotech companies? Not so much.  Biotech companies should be blogging, tweeting and linking in like mad, though.  Here’s why:

  1. Your customers (pharma companies) do it.  More and more pharma companies are active in social media. Take a look at this article in the December issue of Life Science Leader (h/t @FiercePharma) or read the Dose of Digital blog any day of the week and you’ll be directed to interesting information about how products are being developed, tested and marketed. These are things you need to keep in mind as you move through your own product development process. Also, lots of pharma folks are on LinkedIn, so if you are as well, you’ll maximize your ability to reach out through personal connections when you’re building a constituency for your partnering deals.  Here’s my Twitter list of BioPharma news and analysis.
  2. Your investors do it.  Check out this Twitter List of Canadian VCs, Angel investors and other funders.  Look at what they’re talking about, and you’ll see you don’t have to tell people what you ate for lunch (or disclose your latest lab results) to convey that you’re doing something interesting that other people are interested in.  Check out the CVCA’s blog, Capital Rants or the Maple Leaf Angels blog.  In Toronto? Stop in at the MaRS blog or the R.I.C. blog to see where investors will be and what they’re thinking about.
  3. Your peers (other startups) do it.  If you’re not participating in online conversations, you’re missing a world of good advice and perspectives.  Click over to Rick Segal’s blog or  StartupCFO, Mark MacLeod’s Blog. It doesn’t really matter that these guys aren’t involved in biotech. Lots of startups are facing similar issues to yours — funding, staffing, etc. and getting out of the biotech bubble from time to time can be a good thing.  Plus, being at a startup is isolating, particularly in biotech with its strong incentives to run a virtual company, so go online to find peers, mentors and other resources.

If this all sounds reasonable, but you’re still skeptical, or not interested, then find someone in your organization who’s excited about it, regardless of their actual job, and set him/her loose.  [Not totally loose, of course. Common sense is critical online because it’s hard to hit “undo” on the web, and appropriate confidentiality remains key to biotech ventures.  But all your people have common sense and discretion, right?]

We’ll be keeping an eye out for biotechs and other bioscience companies that are making good use of social media as part of our Biotech Trends series this coming year.  Other suggestions for 2010 biotech trends?  Let us know

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$250 million Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund Seen, Raised by $825 million Quebec Venture Capital Fund

Ontario announced the $250 million Emerging Technologies Fund yesterday … pretty much exactly what Monday’s letter to McGuinty from the CVCA requested. That has got to be, by the way, either:

  1. the world’s first psychic government relations campaign, or
  2. the world’s fastest government stimulus.

Not to be out-done, the Québec budget today included an $825 million venture capital fund.  The government is teaming up with the Fonds de solidarité FTQ (english), the investing arm of the province’s labour federation, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (english).

It will be interesting to see whether VC funds who receive OVCF money will also be eligible for the ETF matching.  The Ministry says that full guidelines will be posted on the MRI web site before the end of June 2009.

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We’ll See What VC

A post on Capital Rants this morning says the Mayfield Fund will be the Ontario Venture Capital Fund’s first investment, that it will be in the range of US$5 – US$7.5 million, and that Mayfield will open a one-person office in Toronto.  Mayfield’s investments page shows they invested in biotech and device plays in the past: Amgen, Genentech, Heartstream, Immunex, Intuitive Surgical, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Orquest, Radiant Research, Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Tularik, Velocity11 (and one cleantech company: PolyFuel). 

However, the list is sortable by categories, all of which are IT focused, and tech investments account for 145 out of the 158 listed investments.  As they say, though, past performance does not guarantee future results, so we’ll see what Mayfield does in Canada.

If Mayfield wants a glimpse at some of the Toronto community, they could check out the Entrepreneurship 101 lectures, which have recently included conversations about venture capital from the VC side and from the company side.

There’s also the recent CVCA Report (pdf), and a summary post at Capital Rants.

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Canada Budget Reax Update

Genome Canada is causing quite a stir this morning, picked up by ScienceInsider this afternoon.  That, plus more budget reaction from a Research Canada press release and a thumbs-down from the CVCA below…

The CBC story on Genome Canada funding has some reaction from Tony Clement:

Minister of Industry Tony Clement, speaking to CBC Newsworld on Thursday morning, disputed that funding had been cut, saying Genome Canada was in the third year of a five-year budget rollout.

“It would not be surprising that they would not get an extra amount in this budget because that was taken care of in the last two budgets,” Clement told CBC News.

So what is the status?

Godbout said that while money from last year’s budget was allocated over the next four years to fund ongoing projects, there no indication that they would receive nothing this year for new initiatives.

He pointed to a project to sequence the genomes of 50 different types of cancer, led by Ontario Institute of Cancer Research scientific director Tom Hudson, as one project that would be $25 million short of funding without further federal support.

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Money = Jobs

As various constituencies make their arguments for bailout funding, the supporting materials have a common, unsurprising, theme: Money = Jobs.  How many jobs?  A collection of the data we’ve found after the jump:

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