Canadian funds slow to invest in thriving biotech industry

July 10, 2020

The Canadian biotech industry has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. In the past 18 months alone, five Canadian biotech companies have reached $1 billion valuations. Most notably, Montréal-based cancer drug developer, Repare Therapeutics led the biggest initial public offering ever by a Canadian biotechnology startup—on its first day of trading on the Nasdaq, the company saw its stock price soar more than 50%.

An article published by the Globe and Mail highlights how U.S. funds and individual investors are cashing in on the success of the Canadian biotech industry and examines why Canadian funds have been slow to invest in this sector.

According to Partner Cheryl Reicin, practice leader of our Life Sciences group, “Canadian biopharma is having a moment.”

“The real action is just starting,” she told the Globe and Mail.

LISTEN: What lessons can be learned from the pandemic for the life sciences industry? Listen to this episode of Torys Business Brief to understand how the crisis has caused the industry to move at a pace never seen before.

Cheryl, who has been a supporter of research and innovation in this sector since her move to Canada from the U.S. in 2005, says when she arrived in Canada “it was a swear word to say ‘commercialization.’”

Upon her arrival, she quickly joined the committee of a government-funded entity whose purpose was to support commercialization, although members were still hesitant about commercializing science.

“I said, ‘Call me when you want to make money,’” she said.

Cheryl also spoke about interest from Canadian pension funds in this sector.

“Given the returns and given what the future looks like, I can’t imagine there’s a single pension fund in Canada that isn’t looking at this,” she said.

“And if they aren’t, they should be. We can’t just invest in oil and gas and mining... this is where the future is at.”

Cheryl, along with the rest of our team, provides insight on developments in life sciences on the relevant practice page, including her piece on how the pandemic has forced the life sciences industry to look closer at innovation.

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