November 2020
Let's Connect this Fall
Despite the cold snap embracing Alberta, we hope you are ready to take part in some great opportunities for virtual networking and connecting this month.

Find out what's happening in our ecosystem and check out all the great opportunities featured below to virtually partner and build momentum at work this fall season.

As always, practice safe distancing and stay well!

BioAlberta Team
BioAlberta Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (HESA)

BioAlberta continues to raise concerns and has now responded to publication of final PMPRB Guidelines by Government of Canada. BioAlberta continues to be opposed to both the process and results of Health Canada’s PMPRB draft regulations since they were first published. From our perspective, Health Canada has not engaged industry in a meaningful way to reach objectives that all of us should aspire to:
  • Provide Canadians with a secure supply of safe innovative therapies
  • Fairness in pricing
  • A policy framework in Canada that balances pricing with access, recognizing that health system cost and security of supply are mandates of the provinces as the deliverer of health services in Canada
  • Policies that recognize the importance of research and commercialization as the foundation of Canada’s modern economy, and the importance of remaining competitive in the global competition for investment in research.

BioAlberta’s position is that the regulation changes to PMPRB do not advance any of these objectives, and in fact the negative impact to Alberta and Albertans is significant and unacceptable. Too read our complete submission see here.
Member Exclusive: BioTechGate Digital Partnering 
Virtual business development November 23 - 26

Join four days of digital partnering and establish new global connections thanks to pre-arranged one-on-one ZOOM meetings. Biotechgate Digital Partnering is designed to support the business development of Biotech, Medtech and Pharma companies.

Support during COVID-19 crisis
As it is currently not possible to arrange face to face meetings Biotechgate is offering companies the possibility to continue business development and interact with partners, clients, licensees / licensors and suppliers. This offer is for anybody working in business development in life sciences including biotech, medtech, pharma, diagnostics, healthtech, suppliers, consulting and not-for-profit organizations.

Free digital partnering
Biotechgate Digital Partnering is focusing on companies developing drugs, diagnostics and medical devices. The main objective of the event is to provide a platform for business development in the field of licensing and collaboration.

Over 2,000 delegates representing more than 1,200 participating companies that joined the last two Biotechgate Digital Partnering events in May and September 2020. Representatives of 14 out of the top 20 big pharma companies were attending, 45% of the participants were Biotech companies, and participants were from over 60 countries with a majority being business development (40%) or CEOs (30%). More than 2,400 meetings were scheduled. For complete details see: https://www.digitalpartnering.com/#top

BioAlberta members are eligible for a free premium partnering ticket. Contact Joshua@bioalberta.com for the access code.
Shout Out – University of Calgary
Congratulations to University of Calgary scientists and members of the Clark H. Smith Brain Tumour Centre at the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). They have discovered a way to stop the growth of glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. The finding, published in Nature Communications, provides a new tactic in the war against cancer that involves reprogramming the immune system to do what it does best — fight the tumour instead of fuelling it.

For some time, scientists have observed a tumour’s ability to recruit cells from the immune system. Until now, they did not understand how the tumour was able to do that.

“We discovered that glioblastoma cells secrete a specific factor, called interleukin 33,” says Dr. Stephen Robbins, PhD, co-principal investigator on the study, and professor at the CSM. “It’s this substance that draws immune cells to the tumour and helps to create an environment that changes the function of the immune cells. Instead of fighting the tumour, the immune cells go to work for it, contributing to the tumour’s rapid growth.”

To read the full story see here.
Focal Point: OKR Financial
Providing Growth Capital to the Life Science Industry

OKR Financial is a unique company that operates a family of private funds, providing non-dilutive financing solutions to Canadian SME’s by leveraging Federal & Provincial SR&ED tax credits and Government funded programs. Since its inception in 2015, OKR has expanded to provide more than just debt and grant financing, by adding equity financing, asset secured lending against purchase orders, account receivables, and more.

Unlocking the value of not just current, but also their future SR&ED credits, gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to scale faster than they would otherwise have been able to. Quicker to design, prototype and test and quicker to market.

Among the qualities that makes OKR Financial unique is the team behind it. Leading OKR Financial are founders and managing partners Jason Neale and Randy Thompson, finance and early stage growth and technology experts, who understand the needs of growing companies. "We saw a need and we are happy how the fund has created a win for both investors who are receiving quarterly yields, and the companies that are getting early access to capital they just can't get anywhere else," Thompson says.

The rest of the team also understands the needs of start-ups, and how freeing up the cash tied up in their assets allows businesses to extend the runway. The OKR team is visionary and sees past every obstacle, as they all come from past business successes and proven entrepreneurship ventures themselves. The key characteristics that stand out are the flexibility OKR Financial offers and the speed with which the company is able to process applications. “We understand speed is everything, so we mobilize very quickly while also undertaking a deep dive into every business’s trajectory, aiming to release the funds in 10 business days or less,” says Bhavik Chauhan, VP of Business Development and Marketing.
What makes OKR Financial different is our team’s level of involvement. The team is willing to support every company from beginning to end, connecting them with accountants, lawyers and other business experts when it makes sense. OKR takes pride in helping companies by guiding them in the right direction, helping them shape their leadership, discipline and vision.

OKR Financial just hosted a virtual event with Bio Alberta, where they discussed the different venture and alternative financing vehicles for the life science industry. Their top pieces of advice were:
1) Solve a problem. Investors only invest in companies that are solving a problem, meeting an unmet need that no existing product or service can.
2) Understand your staging. Life science entrepreneurs must understand staging extremely well, not just in terms of timelines but more importantly, the milestones they need to accomplish before each raise. You can watch the replay of the live event here
OKR Financial provides non-dilutive financial solutions to small businesses and entrepreneurs by utilizing SR&ED Tax credits and Government funded programs. The solutions are to assist companies manage their cash-flow needs and let them focus on growing their business without giving up equity and control.

Beyond providing debt financing against SR&ED Tax Credits and Government Funded Programs they also take pride in bringing their borrowers into the OKR ecosystem of consultants, Angel/VC investors, accelerators and incubators and other professional service providers. OKR Financial is led by founders and managing partners Dr. Jason Neale and Randy Thompson have a team who specialize in finance of early-stage growth and are technology experts, who understand the needs for growing companies.

In the summer of 2020, the company launched OKR Venture Fund I, which is focused on equity financing for emerging growth companies. Dr. Jason Neale and Randy Thompson’s extensive background in angel and venture capital, including several successful exits was the catalyst to provide another solution for the Canadian tech ecosystem. Fore more information see here or contact Bhavik Chauhan, VP of Business Development and Marketing or Natalia Mejia, Marketing Manager.
Call for Top Innovators
November 17-19th
Get Noticed. Get Funded. Grow Faster.

Come meet, interact and network online with more than 1,300 VCs, Corporate VCs, angel investors, industry execs and founders of venture backed, emerging and early stage Lifesciences/healthcare companies at the prestigious Venture Summit Virtual Connect being held virtually on November 17th-19th 2020, featuring a dedicated Lifesciences/ Healthcare Track.
Whether you’re a Lifesciences/Healthcare startup seeking capital and exposure, or an investor seeking new deals, Venture Summit Virtual Connect presented by youngStartup Ventures.

A select group of more than 100 Top Innovators will be chosen to present their breakthrough investment opportunities to an exclusive audience of Venture Capitalists, Corporate Investors, Private Investors, Investment Bankers, and Strategic Partners.
Apply to Present / Nominate a company: For more information or to be considered for one of the Top Innovator slots click here.

Seed Pitchfest: If you are a seed stage company seeking angel funding of less than $1M (and have raised less than $300,000) click here to apply.

Special Offer:UAlberta Health Accelerator has made special arrangements for our network to receive a special discount of 20% off the existing “early bird" savings. This conference will be attended by the best people in the industry. Please register early to avoid disappointment. Register here today & save by using promo code "UALBERTAVIP”.
Institute of Health Economics (IHE) Life Sciences SME Market Access Program - November 30th deadline

With funding support from the federal government, and the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, the Institute of Health Economics (IHE) is pleased to release a Call for Expressions of Interest from organizations that would like to participate in a project intended to strengthen their market access opportunity.

Interested organizations are encouraged to download and review the Call for Expressions of Interest and submit a response to innovation@ihe.ca. The IHE is currently recruiting for the next cohort of companies that will initiate in early 2021. A limited number of spaces are available and interested organizations should submit their Expression of Interest by November 30, 2020.

Please note that IHE does not have capacity for individual company meetings prior to Advisory Group shortlisting following receipt of Expressions of Interest. Please send in any questions that you have to innovation@ihe.ca and they will do their best to provide a response, and then post responses for other interested companies to review on this webpage here. (Please check webpage regularly for updates). IHE contact: Dan Palfrey Director, Industry Partnerships dpalfrey@ihe.ca 
Federal & provincial joint funding

Industrial innovation initiatives that support economic recovery and sustainability are now eligible for up to $150 million in funding. Today, the Government of Alberta announced it is funding $100 million for Emissions Reduction Alberta’s (ERA) Shovel-Ready Challenge through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. Up to $50 million in additional funds will also be available from the federal Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund (LCELF).

ERA’s Shovel-Ready Challenge will provide vital financial support to companies ready to implement leading-edge technologies in applications for both greenfield and brownfield operations. This support will be leveraged with private funding, leading to projects valued at over $500 million. This will result in operational efficiencies, cost and emissions reductions, new investment, job creation and retention, and address longer-term environmental sustainability priorities.

ERA is seeking commercial demonstration and deployment projects that have the highest potential to immediately create economic stimulus and environmental resiliency. Projects must begin within 60 days of funding approval and outcomes must include commercial demonstration or deployment of technologies in operational environments. New projects and projects at early stages of execution that have been initiated but stalled due to the current economic situation are also eligible to apply. See here for full details.

ERA will host an informational webinar on Thursday, November 12 at 1 p.m. (MST) to provide an overview of the funding opportunity, including scope and eligibility of the call, the submission process, and timelines for decisions. Participants will have the chance to ask specific questions to help prepare an application.
Creating jobs through clean energy technology

Alberta’s government is spending $50 million from the industry-funded Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system to create jobs, grow our clean-tech industry and cut emissions.

The Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation funding, being delivered by Alberta Innovates, will be given to technologies that help reduce methane emissions and improve industrial energy efficiency. The $50 million in funding over three years is expected to support about 230 jobs. With additional dollars invested from industry, this support will total almost $200 million and create an estimated 910 jobs.

To be eligible for the funding, projects must meet the requirements of TIER and be shovel-ready. Clean energy technology projects already submitted through Alberta Innovates’ ongoing funding application process may be considered for the TIER funding.

New project applications can also be submitted to the Alberta Innovates Application Portal until Nov. 30 to be reviewed for the first intake of TIER funding. For more detail see here.
Proof of Concept Program

The Proof of Concept Program is designed to help establish the commercial feasibility of innovative natural products and technologies in order to attract and de-risk subsequent investment.

The program is open to Canadian research institutes, start-up companies, and SMEs. Applicants can receive up to 50% of the cost of the proof of concept plan to a maximum of $100,000 during the Program Period (not to exceed 12 months). The applicant will be required to contribute 50% of the cost over the Program Period.

The program does not support basic research or preliminary product/technology development. It is intended to demonstrate commercial potential via preliminary animal, field, demonstration or human trials.

For research institutes, the program is conditionally repayable and is intended to move a product or technology from intellectual property disclosure to near term spin-out and/or licensing opportunities.

For start-ups and SMEs, the program is repayable and is intended to demonstrate commercial feasibility of products and technologies.

Applicant Eligibility Requirements
  • Canadian SME, start-up or research institute
  • The applicant has an innovative natural product or technology
  • Start-ups and SMEs must have the potential to achieve $10M- $15M in annual revenue within a reasonable period for the market or sector
  • Products or technologies being developed within research institutes must address an industry/sector challenge that has a significant market potential
  • Member of Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster.

See here for more information.
2021 THRIVE VII Accelerator Program Applications Open Now

They support new startups from all areas of the value chain whose technologies drive us towards a more efficient, sustainable & secure agriculture future. Apply now by using this link.

Connection Silicon Valley helps organizations build meaningful networks and provide access to the world-renowned Silicon Valley technology startup ecosystem. Want to learn more? See our website here.
2020 Texas Life Science Forum: Call for Presenters
Cohost: BioHouston and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
The Texas Life Science Forum is the premier life science event in Texas that brings together members from industry, emerging life science companies, academic, and investors. This is an opportunity to meet investors, learn about promising life science companies, to learn about opportunities for entrepreneurs, investment professionals, big pharma, academics and business executives serving the life science industry.
Thanks to a close collaboration with Rice Alliance, The Canadian Consulate in Houston has secured 5 spots for Canadian companies interested in participating in this event.
Selected companies will have the opportunity to:

~ Give a 4 minute pitch to 400+ venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, angel networks, industry leaders, academics, and service providers.

~ Meet with investors during Virtual Office Hours. Office Hours are introductory, 1-on-1 meetings with venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, & angel investors. Meetings are scheduled at the request of investors. They will be held at a mutually agreed upon time between Friday, November 13 and Wednesday, November 25.

~ Meet with forum attendees in a dedicated 15 minute virtual showcase session.

Event Schedule:
Tuesday, November 10 | 9:00 am to Noon CT
Wednesday, November 11 | 9:00 am to Noon CT
Thursday, November 12 | 9:00 am to Noon CT
APPLICATION PROCESS: Complete your application by visiting here.
Once you have applied, please also enter your details in this document here to be considered part of the applicants supported by the Canadian Consulate in Houston.
Organizers will evaluate applications and select companies to participate at the Forum.
Contact Maria Bofill here if you have questions.
Business Link receives additional funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Alberta to support COVID-19 recovery for small businesses

Business Link strives to support Alberta businesses with their unique needs at any stage of business, and in support of that, on August 4, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) and the Government of Alberta have provided Business Link with additional funding to support entrepreneurs and business owners through this challenging time.

Business Link will be launching three new programs with the funding received, including peer-to-peer group sessions with entrepreneurs and Business Link small business strategists, a business recovery coaching program, and the development of an online toolkit, which will include an interactive business plan writer for Business Link clients to utilize through the planning and growth stages of running a business. The remainder of the funding will be used to provide additional advisory support for small businesses and on marketing and awareness campaigns that will run across the province.

The new programs and resources will be launched over the next several months and entrepreneurs and small businesses are encouraged to apply or seek more information at www.businesslink.ca or by contacting Business Link directly at 1-800-272-9675.
Student Work Placement Program
Building Skills for Canada's bio-economy

Canadian universities and colleges are placing highly-
educated students in the bio-economy. If you are looking to hire young and eager talent, BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) can help. Past positions include everything from Drug Formulation & Delivery to Sustainable Agriculture Intern.

SWPP will support you to hire, train and retain employees in a variety of sectors, including healthcare. They will also provide funding to employ post secondary students within healthcare organizations, bioscience companies and research organizations.

The subsidy covers up to 75% of a student's work placement to a maximum of $7,500.

Apply today at biotalent.ca/Co-opFunds to grow your talent pool and provide upcoming graduates with the foundational experience they need to start careers.

Want to learn more? See Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and contact Colleen at chayes@biotalent.ca.

Canada's Technology and Aging Network's - AGE-WELL - is receiving $21.9 million over three years from GoC to provide Canadians with technology-based solutions to improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers.

They continue to seek new projects. If you have an idea apply for these exceptional funding opportunities. Details can be found at: http://ow.ly/fgsL50zE3oO Y
Western Economic Diversification Canada

Businesses across Western Canada unable to access existing relief measures can now apply to Western Economic Diversification Canada's Regional Relief and Recovery Fund worth $304 million.

This Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations, that are key to the regions and local economies. A total of $304 million will be available for western Canadian businesses. To learn more or apply see Western Economic Diversification Canada
In the news…
RJH Biosciences ‘admitted’ to Berkeley Skydeck Fall’20 Cohort

On November 4, RJH Biosciences Inc. shared the decision made by the
Berkeley Skydeck to admit RJH Biosciences into the Fall 2020 Cohort of Berkeley SkyDeck. More than 1800 companies applied for selection to Fall 2020 Cohort and only 16 companies were selected. RJH Biosciences is pleased to be among this select group of companies. The Cohort companies receive a $100,000 investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund and access to 300 top advisors and mentors. RJH Biosciences Inc., a privately held biotech company in Edmonton, Alberta, was recognized for its novel technology that packages nucleic acids iton virus-like particles and enables delivery of nucleic acids to specific types of cells.

Berkeley SkyDeck (skydeck.berkeley.edu) is UC Berkeley's global startup accelerator. Named by Forbes as one of the top five university accelerators, SkyDeck combines hands-on mentorship with the vast resources of its research university. SkyDeck is the only accelerator that provides funding for its startups via a public-private partnership, providing returns directly back to UC Berkeley from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund, a dedicated investment fund supported by top institutional VCs like Sequoia and Mayfield. Read the full newsrelease here.
Entos Pharmaceuticals Awarded funding to Conduct Phase I Clinical Trial of COVID-19 DNA Vaccine

Entos Pharmaceuticals (Entos), a healthcare biotechnology company developing nucleic acid medicines with its breakthrough proprietary Fusogenix drug delivery platform, is pleased to announce it is receiving advisory services and funding of up to $5M from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) as part of the Government of Canada's continuing support for the development of domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Entos developed a Fusogenix DNA vaccine called Covigenix that in preclinical studies induces a strong neutralizing antibody response plus a potent and balanced T cell response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. NRC IRAP's support will help progress Entos' COVID-19 DNA vaccine research to phase 1 human clinical trial to assess its safety at the Clinical Trials Research Center at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV) in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Entos is honoured to be one of the innovative Canadian companies receiving NRC IRAP support," said John Lewis, CEO, Entos Pharmaceuticals. "We are excited to use this funding to advance the phase 1 human clinical trial of Covigenix at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology." For details see here.
Entos Announces Launch of US-Based Spinout Company Aegis Life, Inc. to Support its Global Vaccine Commercialization Strategy

Entos Pharmaceuticals (Entos), a Canadian biotechnology company developing nucleic acid medicines with its breakthrough proprietary Fusogenix drug delivery platform, is pleased to announce the launch of its USA-based spinout company Aegis Life, Inc. (Aegis). Aegis is dedicated to the development, manufacturing, and global distribution of novel DNA vaccines using Entos’ Fusogenix technology. Their most advanced program is a novel DNA vaccine designed to generate durable immunity against SARS-CoV-2, and Aegis is now pursuing US and international investment to support rapid development of its lead vaccine candidate.

Entos’s team of Canadian scientists have developed Fusogenix as a platform to effectively and safely deliver nucleic acid medicines directly inside cells as therapeutics for cancers and other diseases. Fusogenix technology enables researchers to rapidly prototype vaccine candidates and allows for modular, large scale manufacturing, both of which are ideal characteristics for the rapid development of DNA-based vaccines in response to SARS-CoV-2 and other future human pathogenic viruses. For details see here.
New program to help build capacity in Canada's growing digital economy

The University of Calgary announced on October 15 that it is adding a new graduate program offering to help both new and experienced professionals transition to a career in tech.

The Master in Data Science and Analytics (MDSA) is a multidisciplinary, professionally oriented graduate degree program offered through a collaboration between the Faculty of Science, the Haskayne School of Business, the Cumming School of Medicine, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

In line with the University of Calgary’s Unstoppable "growth through focus" plan to create Canada’s most entrepreneurial university by expanding graduate education geared toward professionals and strengthening ties to industry, the MDSA will provide students who have backgrounds in a variety of different disciplines with the skills and abilities needed to become data scientists or data analysts, and to flourish in a global economy that is increasingly data-driven.

The increasing use and popularity of emerging technologies like machine learning are resulting in a rapidly growing need for professionals who are able to navigate these digital technologies. The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) identifies data scientists among the top 15 tech jobs in demand through 2023. The ICTC also forecasts that demand for digitally skilled talent in Canada will reach more than 305,000 in the next three years.

“Realizing the changing needs in an increasingly data-driven economy in Alberta, Canada, and around the world, the new program will fill an important niche in meeting the needs of students with an interest in re-skilling and up-skilling towards the tech sector,” says Dr. Bernhard Mayer, PhD, interim Faculty of Science dean. "Students in the Master of Data Science and Analytics program can expect a leading-edge education that will help them transition to important roles in Canada’s tech economy.” For details see here.
New Members
Our Partners