Winding Down 2017 With Tremendous Gratitude

As we approach the end of 2017, we look back with tremendous gratitude for the many friends and supporters of Novateur, especially for our valued clients, whom we consider our partners. We had a great year and grew our practice in substantial ways in every possible metric. We worked with over 30 companies and investment groups conducting due diligence and providing product and project development advisory. We completed over 120 projects. Our clients raised over $100 M in capital, including one that successfully became public on a US stock exchange. Several companies also completed partnerships with larger pharma clients. We believe Novateur is the solution for the “talent” challenge in Canada and other geographies where there is dearth of seasoned development and execution expertise and lack of a track record. Novateur has a history of attracting world-class advisors. Only the very best join our team and work diligently to solve our client’s issues. Several of these world-class experts have become full time executives at Novateur and have relocated to Canada from the United States. We are pleased to contribute our part to reverse the Canadian “brain-drain”. With over 120 active advisors and over 1,000 global advisors in our network, we can solve any life science problem effectively and efficiently. Novateur is a very active and global group: Our advisors are part of many new start-ups and serve in active executive roles for our clients and partners. Our advisors attended over 200 conferences and seminars throughout the year and were speakers at several. I attended over 20 conferences and spoke at or chaired 6 conferences. Several of us participated in...

Diagnostics: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

On October 26-27, I co-chaired an International Conference on “Companion Diagnostics & Biomarkers” in Porto, Portugal. The presenters included global experts in diagnostics including market leaders such as Unilabs, Agilent, Qiagen, ThermoFisher and Guardant Health. The Conference was initiated by the other Co-chair, Harry Glorikian, the author of Moneyball Medicine who delivered an engaging presentation predicting the future of medicine and digital health. Throughout the two days, impressive and informative presentations described the current status and the predicted future of diagnostics and digital health technology including the anticipated tsunami of future changes. I initiated the second day of the conference with an overview of the past, present and future of diagnostics, encompassing the best (and worst) examples of companion diagnostics (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”). Click here to request the presentation. Presentation by Ali Ardakani, Managing Director of Novateur Ventures: “Can Companion Diagnostics Be a Guide to Cure? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – BioTech Pharma Summit 2017: Companion Diagnostics & Biomarkers October 26-27, 2017 — Porto, Portugal Ali Ardakani, Managing Director of Novateur, chairing the final plenary session of the BioTech Pharma Summit 2017: Companion Diagnostics & Biomarkers October 26-27, 2017 — Porto, Portugal Here are some summarized highlights from the conference: Diagnostics will be playing an ever-encompassing role in therapeutics development and commercialization. Both EMEA and FDA are encouraging more “targeted therapeutics” with companion diagnostics. Digital Health and digital diagnostics will represent a tremendous new growth sector and will become an integral part of our health care system. Embracing this market dynamics sooner will lead to better health outcomes and reduced costs. Diagnostics...

More Than Engaging with Government – Let’s Work Together

Vancouver, B.C., November 7, 2017 On November 2, 2017, I had the pleasure and opportunity to represent LifeSciences BC board, together with Nancy Harrison, Chair, Board of Directors, Dr. Lesley Esford, President & CEO, along with other board members, Dr. Pieter Cullis and Scott Phillips. Our visit included breakfast with the NDP caucus and lunch with the Liberal caucus, where Dr. Esford presented an overview of the life sciences sector in B.C. What we shared with government were several impressive and enlightening facts: There are 450 life science companies in B.C. Vancouver is rated as “Best City in the World” to start a new Business by CityUp Index and was rated by as the “#1 Best Startup Ecosystem” by Startup Genome to support entrepreneurs and raise seed rounds in Canada. B.C. is the only province in Canada, to develop and launch several novel products generating billions of dollars in cumulative revenue. Reflecting that B.C.’s life science companies have a track record of taking blockbuster products with historic regularity, from idea to market.A few of these products are: Visudyne® by QLT Taxus® by Agniotech Mozobil® by Anormed Vyxeos®, developed by Celator (recently acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and soon to be launched. B.C. is the only province and Vancouver one of the few cities in North America, except Boston and San Francisco, with three companies, Zymeworks, Innovative Targeting Solutions and Abcellera, signing global partnerships with 15 of the world’s largest global pharma companies, worth billions of dollars. In 2017, B.C. had the largest IPO in recent Canadian Biotech History when Zymeworks raised $80M. Several other companies including Aurinia, Arbutus and Aquinox...

Companion Diagnostics: A Guide to Cure?

There is an obsession by biotechs, pharma, investors and payers to pre-select responders to a therapy before they are treated. How did we end up here and how is this going to impact medicine in the long term? In certain diseases where the biology landscape is understood better, like oncology, there has been tremendous impact. However, in most other target areas we still cannot isolate the responders and use “all comers” to try treatments and hope the safety and efficacy of a drug can be shown to be statistically significant. What happens to target areas where specific responders cannot be identified? What happens to companies that have an effective treatment but cannot get funding because they cannot find their “targeted population”? By “targeted” we mean a sub-population that expresses a specific genetic mutation or biomarker. At Novateur we are often approached by creative scientists that have discovered a biomarker diagnostic or in some cases can analyze hundreds of your markers to show that you may potentially have various disorders. Would the doctors be interested to tell you that you may have early Alzheimer’s when there is no treatment available for it? And would the payers pay for it? In our experience, diagnostics will have a challenging time getting funded and partnered, unless they can be paired with an effective therapeutic. The ultimate goal is to be able to utilize the diagnostic to change the clinical outcome in a meaningful way. In a similar fashion, biotech companies developing treatments need to think how to incorporate potential diagnostics to pre-select responders. After decades of experience at large pharma, our advisors believe...

How Trump Presidency and BREXIT Are Creating the Perfect Storm for Reversing Canada’s Brain Drain

Historically Canada has faced a significant challenge in attracting top talent compared to the United States and retaining top talent already in Canada. Until recently, top entrepreneurs would often choose to start their next big idea in the US, for several reasons, including: Better access to capital Better access to talent Lower income taxes The results of the 2016 presidential election and BREXIT have changed this. For the first time, some of the top US, UK and international executives and entrepreneurs are considering relocation to Canada. Canada offers the following first class resources: Friendly and easy business regulation Top notch basic science from world class universities Lower corporate income tax Significant government R&D incentives designed for start ups such as SRED, IRAP and Mitacs Provincial incentives for investors (Angels and Venture Capitals) to invest in early stage companies and most importantly, a progressive open minded government that is in tune with the need for change in the 21st century. This January 28, 2017 article from Globe & Mail quoted several global technology leaders including Google, Netflix and Uber CEO expressing concern about top talent leaving US. At Novateur, we have been addressing the shortage of experienced pharma talent by matching the best global advisors to Canadian biotech and pharma Companies. Since the US election, several of our most sought after US based advisors have expressed genuine interest in relocating to Canada. We are delighted to announce that as of April 1, Dr. Gina Stetsko, a world-class biotechnology expert in CMC Manufacturing and process scale up has relocated from San Diego to Vancouver and joined Novateur as a full time...

Conquering the South Pole and Lessons for Biotechs

How the Norwegians conquered the South Pole while the well funded and well resourced British all died on the way back & how that applies to biotech   December 14th, 2016 marked the 105th anniversary of the first expedition to the South Pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, trained by the Inuit in Canada. Famously, the second place finishers, a British team led by Robert Scott, showed up at the South Pole 34 days later. Despite starting the race much earlier with significantly more men and resources, the Brits not only faced defeat, but also died on the return journey. This race in many ways reflects two different business models. What we can learn from it is especially applicable to biotechs and pharma. Why would the underdog end in triumph and the other well-stocked team in tragedy?     The Nordics Were Coached by the Inuit – Experience Matters Amundsen had just completed a 3 year journey successfully crossing the Northwest Passage. During that period he spent many months stuck in ice, so he had a lot of downtime to learn from the Inuit how they kept alive in extreme conditions. Thus, the Norwegian came to the southern hemisphere with what was then the cutting-edge in polar technology: Dog sleds, igloo-building techniques and loose-fitting fur parkas. Amundsen’s subject matter experts (the Inuit) were like a team of experienced pharma drug developers who know the latest drug development techniques and the regulatory/business development/reimbursement landscape. Trekking to the South Pole is like trying to get a new drug or device to approval; it is not something you want to learn “along the...