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Sep 25, 2014
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Canadian accelerant

After seven years of building bridges between the Canadian research and business communities through technology transfer consortia, the government's Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research program has launched the country's first national health science accelerator-Accel-Rx. Its mission is to promote the development of new startups and attract private funding, but the challenge will be to reignite interest in early stage biotechs among Canadian VC firms.

The Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) is providing Accel-Rx with C$14.5 million ($13.2 million) to begin operations, which will be managed by CDRD Ventures Inc., the commercialization arm of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD). BDC Venture Capital will provide a portion of the venture funding for the newcos coming out of the accelerator.

According to Accel-Rx's center director Natalie Dakers, the goal is to stanch the flow of venture money away from early stage technology to later-stage clinical programs that Accel-Rx believes is holding back innovation and growth in the biotech sector.

"The health science sector, in Canada in particular, is reliant on VC firms to get early stage companies off the ground," she said. "Most spinouts from universities are venture funded. When VC firms started getting out of early stage and moving toward clinical opportunities, this put Canada's technology commercialization at a disadvantage." Dakers is also president and CEO of CDRD Ventures.

The government launched CECR in 2007 in response to the...

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