Niche early-stage investment program seeds Ontario’s developing pipeline of oncology assets
TORONTO, ON (September 26, 2019) – Three promising Ontario-based oncology innovations are recipients of seed capital through the latest round of FACIT’s Prospects Oncology Fund. Medical device start-up Xpan Inc., Dr. Igor Stagljar of the University of Toronto, and the Drug Discovery Program at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) were selected to receive seed funding among a top-tier pool of applicants.
Xpan Inc., whose CEO Zaid Atto also won FACIT’s Falcons’ Fortunes pitch competition earlier this year, is developing expandable surgical access ports that aim to increase safety and efficiency of minimally invasive surgeries. Dr. Stagljar is developing a unique and disruptive system for detecting protein-protein interactions in real time for drug discovery applications, while OICR’s Drug Discovery Program, led by Dr. Rima Al-awar, will receive funds towards the development of a platform targeting multiple members of the WD40 repeat domain (WDR) family with small molecules. The lattermost project builds on OICR and FACIT’s recent success in executing a $1B USD strategic transaction with Celgene for a related WDR5 asset.
FACIT’s Prospects Oncology Fund fuels a pipeline of innovations and is imperative to addressing the seed-stage gap experienced by Ontario’s life sciences sector. In order to impact the Province’s innovation economy, this Ontario First capital helps de-risk innovations through local development, ultimately driving greater value to attract follow-on investment into the province. The Prospects Oncology Fund provides a deal-flow of novel breakthrough discoveries that feed FACIT’s Compass Rose Oncology Fund.
Armed with specialization in the oncology market, FACIT has grown its portfolio through these two investment funds, leveraging every dollar invested to attract nearly 20x of additional investment to the Province. Despite typical attrition rates, nearly two-thirds of Compass Rose Fund investee companies have subsequently advanced to secure private financing or successfully exited. This highlights the impact of investing Ontario First capital in the Province’s rich talent and innovation pool, bringing economic and patient benefits to Ontario’s biotech ecosystem.
“The FACIT team is pleased to support these entrepreneurial scientists, providing both capital and commercialization expertise, as they advance their technologies closer to impacting patients with cancer,” said Dr. David O’Neill, President of FACIT. “With these exciting innovations and partners, we look to continue to achieve significant innovation outcomes, anchoring companies, jobs and talent in Ontario.”