Quebec biotech startup nets record-breaking seed stage investment
Recent $21M investment in ILKOS THERAPEUTICS is 17 times larger than average VC seed deal since 2013
By the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
The Fonds de solidarité FTQ, CTI Life Sciences Fund and Servier Canada have announced a combined investment of $21 million towards the creation of a new Quebec biotechnology initiative, ILKOS THERAPEUTICS Inc., a pharmaceutical firm tasked with developing line treatment for venous lower limb ulcers. The contributing funds each invested $7 million to create the Laval-based startup, making this investment the largest venture capital seed stage deal in recent Canadian history.
By leveraging collaboration between three different types of investors – Servier Canada, a global corporate investor; the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, an institutional investor; and CTI Life Sciences Fund, a venture capital fund – ILKOS THERAPEUTICS has an extended capital reach and is positioned at the vanguard of biomedical innovation.
The shared strategic interests between these different investors has enabled seed capital to be scaled to a much greater degree than in recent history, CVCA’s InfoBase indicates. The initiative’s deal sum is more than double the previous life sciences VC seed high-water mark (a $10-million deal by Versant Venture Management) and is 17 times greater than the average life sciences VC seed deal since 2013.
Based on exclusive CVCA data, Quebec has the largest amount of VC life sciences investment since 2013, with $565 million invested across 77 deals. This is followed closely by Ontario, with $561 million invested over 111 life sciences deals over the same period. In addition, three of the largest five VC life-sciences deals in CVCA’s InfoBase were early-stage investments into Quebec-based companies: two rounds (US$100 million and US$50 million) in DalCor Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a US$60-million round in Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc.
“ILKOS THERAPEUTICS shows once again that Quebec can succeed in the life-sciences sector. Our quality R&D and service infrastructures, combined with the availability of capital, make Quebec an optimal location for the development of new therapies,” says Normand Chouinard, Executive Vice-President, Investments, at the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. And the proof is in the numbers: CVCA’s InfoBase further indicates that four out of the top ten Canadian investors ranked by dollars invested in life sciences are based in Quebec, including Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Real Ventures, Investissement Québec and CTI Partners.
In 2014, Servier, a French-based international pharmaceutical company, inaugurated its Centre of Excellence in Clinical Research to support clinical studies in Laval, Que. Despite already being well established provincially, its investment in ILKOS THERAPEUTICS marks the first time Servier has partnered with a VC fund in Canada. The initiative reflects Quebec’s ongoing commitment toward the Canadian life sciences VC ecosystem.
Frédéric Fasano, Chief Executive Officer of Servier Canada, says the firm’s partnership with VCs and investing in ILKOS aligns with its broader research investment strategy in Quebec.
For Ken Pastor, General Partner at CTI Life Sciences Fund, this initiative reflects the firm’s commitment to capitalizing on Quebec expertise in order to implement a large-scale mobilizing project.
ILKOS THERAPEUTICS Inc. is ambitious in developing an oral remedy to treat venous lower limb ulcers, a disease that affects 1 to 1.5 per cent of the population. The treatment prototype has shown promising pharmacological healing properties and could be a potentially major clinical breakthrough.
In related news, Danny Gagné, Manager of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ’s life sciences portfolio, Jean François Leprince, Managing Partner at CTI Life Sciences Fund, and Frédéric Fasano, Chief Executive Officer of Servier Canada will join ILKOS’ board as directors.