Versant Ventures invests $10 million in new Vancouver-based biotech company that joins forces with Bayer Healthcare in opthalmological drug research

Versant Ventures expands into Canada; establishes new venture capital office in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, Dec. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Versant Ventures, a U.S.-based life sciences venture capital firm, is building a presence in British Columbia so it can invest in early-stage drug discovery companies and accelerate the development and commercialization of scientific research in the province. Versant established an office in Vancouver this year and created a company that has joined forces with Bayer Healthcare to develop innovative therapeutics for retinal eye disease. Versant has committed a $10 million Series A to a new company called Inception 4 that will be managed by the Vancouver-based biotech team.

"We are investing in B.C. to develop early-stage companies because we know there is exceptional research talent and leading academic research in the province," said Brad Bolzon PhD., managing director of Versant Ventures. "Our firm has a strong track record of investing in early-stage research as well as partnering with global biopharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines. We want to accelerate these types of discovery programs in B.C."

British Columbia Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat, who oversees the Province's venture capital programs and the B.C. Renaissance Capital Fund, said she supports Versant's focus on accelerating the development and commercialization of scientific research in B.C.

"British Columbia provides excellent opportunities for early-stage private capital to invest in world-class scientific and research teams," Minister Wat said. "We are very pleased that Versant has recognized British Columbia's competitive advantages and established operations in Vancouver."

Versant has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management in life sciences. Versant's investment model has 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 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 Toronto.

"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 manages Canadian operations for the firm. "We have established ourselves in Vancouver, have already launched a new company in this market, and have created Blueline Bioscience in Toronto. Versant also looks forward to expanding our operations into the Quebec market in 2014."

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a leading venture capital firm that invests in innovative, groundbreaking bio-pharmaceuticals, 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:

Contact:

Jerel Davis, Principal       
Versant Ventures  
jdavis@versantventures.com    
604.351.5617

David Climie, VP Comm.   
H+K Strategies  
david.climie@hkstrategies.ca 
604.692.4234

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Versant Ventures

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