- Drug discovery engine to create new companies -
MONTREAL, June 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Versant Ventures, a global life sciences venture capital firm, continues its Canadian growth strategy with the launch of biopharmaceutical incubator Inception Sciences in Montreal. Versant, with Inception Sciences, will be working to launch new companies that can accelerate the commercialization of scientific research in the province of Quebec.
Inception Sciences Montreal is another major commitment by Versant in Canada in the past year, following the launch of Blueline Bioscience in Toronto and Inception Sciences Vancouver. The launch of Montreal operations also adds a third research site to its Inception Sciences discovery engine to address the growing appetite of major pharmaceutical companies to enter innovative venture-backed partnerships.
"We have recognized a real opportunity in Montreal, and across Canada, where both world-class academic research and drug discovery talent are prevalent," said Brad Bolzon PhD., managing director of Versant Ventures. "The attributes of this market make for compelling investments and support our approach of attracting global pharmaceutical partners to co-fund the most promising research programs with the goal of acquiring future first-in-class drug candidates."
Bolzon and fellow co-founder of Inception Sciences, Peppi Prasit, say they see a great opportunity to translate scientific discoveries into early-stage biotechnology enterprises in Quebec and across Canada.
"I am excited to work again with top Canadian academic institutions and researchers," said Peppi Prasit, co-founder and CEO of Inception Sciences. "For more than 15 years, I had the opportunity to work alongside Merck Frosst scientists in Montreal and appreciate the strong capabilities that exist here. After co-founding Amira Pharmaceuticals (later sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb), our team became the core of Inception Sciences in San Diego, California."
Inception Sciences Montreal is one of a number of recent activities for Versant in Canada. Versant recently formed a biotechnology incubator in Toronto, called Blueline Bioscience, which is collaborating with Celgene and aims to launch new companies in areas such as oncology and inflammation. Blueline Bioscience is headquartered in the MaRS Discovery District of Toronto and will announce the launch of its first spin out company in the next several months. In Vancouver, Versant established an office in 2013 and backed an Inception Sciences unit that is partnering with Bayer Healthcare to develop innovative therapeutics for retinal eye disease.
Jerel Davis PhD, a newly appointed Partner at Versant, oversees the firm's investment activities in Canada. Davis considers the expansion into Quebec as critical due to its strong history in the life sciences sector. "Our model of both funding and actively engaging with entrepreneurs in the launch of early stage companies fits the current Quebec biotechnology environment. We expect to back a number of promising start-ups across Canada with our presence in Vancouver, Toronto, and now Montreal," said Davis.
Versant has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management in life sciences. Versant's investment model has led to a number of notable successes in the US and the EU, and the firm aims to replicate that success in Canada.
About Versant Ventures
Versant Ventures is a global venture capital firm that invests in innovative, groundbreaking bio-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other life science opportunities. Founded in 1999, the firm consists of an experienced team committed to helping entrepreneurs build successful companies that impact healthcare and improve quality of life.
SOURCE Versant Ventures