- Versant Ventures establishes an incubator in Toronto with additional
plans for Montreal -
TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Versant Ventures, a U.S.-based life
sciences venture capital firm, is expanding operations into Canada to
invest in early-stage drug discovery programs and establish new life
science companies that can accelerate the commercialization of
scientific research in Canada.
"We are investing in Canada to develop early-stage companies because we
believe there is a strong combination of drug discovery talent as well
as leading academic research across the country,' said Brad Bolzon
PhD., managing director of Versant Ventures. "Our firm has a track
record of investing in early-stage research as well as partnering with
global pharmaceutical companies to launch novel therapeutics companies.
We want to accelerate the creation of new biotech companies that can
Versant has already established an office and created an Inception
Sciences drug discovery engine in Vancouver to launch new companies.
Inception Sciences recently joined forces with Bayer Healthcare to
develop innovative therapeutics for retinal eye disease. Versant
committed a $10 million Series A investment alongside research funding
from Bayer to a new biotech company called Inception 4.
The management team at Versant is planning on launching a similar unit
in Montreal in 2014.
Versant recently formed a biotechnology incubator in Toronto, called
Blueline Bioscience, which is collaborating with Celgene and aims to
launch new companies in areas such as oncology and inflammation.
Blueline Bioscience is headquartered in the MaRS Discovery District of
Bolzon says that Versant is making a long-term commitment to Canada and
sees a great opportunity to translate scientific discoveries that are
emerging at academic institutes across the country into early stage
biotechnology enterprises. "We specialize in commercializing novel
discoveries and believe that working with local, dynamic research teams
here in Canada can take them to the next level," said Bolzon. "They can
leverage our firm's expertise and as these companies grow, we can help
connect them with large pharma companies that share the same goal of
getting novel therapeutics to market."
Versant has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management in life
sciences. Versant's investment model that led to a number of notable
successes in the US and the EU, and the firm now wants to replicate
that in Canada. A good example of Versant's success includes the
formation of Amira, launched in 2005 in San Diego, which was later sold
to Bristol Myers Squibb in 2011. Key members of the Amira team then
went on to found Inception Sciences. Since 2005, these initiatives in
San Diego have generated six pharmaceutical companies and generated
almost 100 jobs in the San Diego area. More than $90 million in venture
capital has been committed across multiple drug discovery programs
generated through Amira and Inception Sciences.
"Versant has a unique model for investing in and launching early-stage
companies and we see ourselves being very active in the Canadian
biotechnology sector going forward," said Jerel Davis, PhD., principal
with Versant Ventures who oversees Canadian operations for the firm.
"We have established ourselves in Vancouver, have already launched a
new company in that market, and have created Blueline Bioscience in
Toronto. Versant also looks forward to expanding operations into Quebec
and tapping into the strong talent pool that exists in that province."
About Versant Ventures
Versant Ventures is a leading venture capital firm that invests in
innovative, ground-breaking biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and
other life science opportunities. Founded in 1999, the firm consists of
an experienced team committed to helping entrepreneurs build successful
companies that impact healthcare and improve quality of life.
SOURCE: Versant Ventures
For further information:
Jerel Davis, Principal
David Climie, VP Comm.