Atlantic Business Magazine: Ones to watch

See original article here CHRIS COWPER-SMITH Co-founder, president and CEO, Spring Loaded Technology Bringing bionic technology to sports enthusiasts and putting a spring in the step of people with knee injuries What happens when a neuroscientist, an engineer and a business student take an entrepreneurship class together? They create a bionic knee, of course. Halifaxbased Spring Loaded Technology was created in 2013 by a trio of knee-injury sufferers: Chris Cowper-Smith (the scientist); Bob Garrish (the engineer); and, Shaw Kewin (the business student). The trio’s communal pain inspired Cowper-Smith to create a brace “that could assist with mobility, rather than just providing stability.” The basis of Spring Loaded Technology is the spring inside: “We just had the small task of reinventing the spring,” Cowper-Smith explains nonchalantly. After four years of development and prototypes, they created a compact spring small enough to fit inside a conventional knee brace. The Levitation bionic knee brace hit markets in 2016 with a sales model focused on selling directly to the consumer through digital advertising. Upon determining the user is a good candidate for getting the spring back in their step, a bracing specialist works with them remotely to measure for the right fit. Next came the million-dollar contract with the Department of National Defense in which they produced 190 military-grade knee braces for the Canadian Forces. The yearlong pilot project concluded with positive reviews from injured military members and the company hopes to be supplying braces in forthcoming contracts. In the summer of 2017, they received $2.45 million in funding through ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund, which they are using to build a human factors testing lab to assess actual usage of the brace. Currently the Levitation is 100 per cent assembled onsite by the company in Dartmouth’s Burnside Industrial Park: the only part brought in is the brace’s casing. For Ontario ex-pat Cowper-Smith (Garrish and Kewin are no longer with the company), the transition from scientist to CEO has been a challenging endeavor: “There’s always that little bit of uncomfortableness, a discomfort, with being a little bit out of your realm,” he says. For him the key lies in creating support, and not just with the knee brace. Reinforcing the company’s leadership team has been at the forefront of his agenda: “There’s been incredible support in the community, and we’ve managed to attract some people who are a lot smarter than me that help me fill in the holes.” “I think a background in science can be really useful for an entrepreneur starting a company, because ultimately what you are trying to do as an entrepreneur, at least in startup, is do a lot of different rapid experiments to figure out how this business is going to work,” says Cowper- Smith. It looks like 2018 will be an aggressive scaling-up year: four of the 33 employees are currently setting up temporary sales locations across the country. The U.S. and international markets are next.]]>

Bereskin & Parr: Start-ups Need to Start with IP

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Sign up for BioNova Boost: IP strategy talk for life science startups May 8th, 2018

Start-ups have many items to focus on when they are first starting their business including incorporation and working on a business plan. Intellectual Property (IP) may not be considered to be a priority by start-ups but IP really should be considered right from the start. This is because IP affects many business areas including choosing a business name, doing negotiations and working with third party entities, creating timelines for commercialization of services and/or products as well as competing in the marketplace. IP is important since innovation is seen as an increasing necessity in many industries today. For example, IP can be used to create a corporate identity/brand, increase goodwill and promote a reputation of innovation. IP may also help a business protect domestic and foreign opportunities, differentiate their products and services as well as contend with competitors as IP rights are territorial and are pursued in each country where protection is desired. Obtaining IP rights may also help with raising funds whether it is from attracting VC or angel investors, generating licensing revenue to IP securitization and IP sales. A business needs to have a clear IP strategy that is aligned with and supports its business strategy. So the first step in developing the IP strategy is to look at various aspects of the start-up including, but not limited to, the competitive advantages, the services and products that will be offered, and how the start-up will operate (e.g. manufacture in-house or work with a manufacturer), to name a few. Step 2 is to determine what IP rights can be used to support the business characteristics identified in step 1. IP rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Each IP right provides a certain type of protection, has an associated cost and has advantages and disadvantages. So one should educate themselves on how different IP rights work, what are the timelines and costs are for obtaining IP rights, and how IP rights can be applied to their start-up. For example, a patent application must be filed before an invention is publically disclosed (although a small number of countries provide a grace period under certain conditions) but a trade name, product name or service name may be publically disclosed before applying for a trademark. Step 3 involves digging deeper into the IP rights that apply to your start-up to determine what is available for your start-up to pursue and what may already be covered by another business. This also provides competitive intelligence for determining your competitors and their IP rights as well as figuring out what IP rights you can obtain to beat your competitors. For example, you may want to use a certain name for your start-up but the name may already be used and/or registered by another business. Alternatively, you may have a product that you think is inventive and wish to protect with a patent, but you need to consider what knowledge is in the public domain (as this will affect the ability to obtain a patent as well as the scope of protection) and whether your product may be subject to the existing patent rights of a third party. Step 4 involves determining how IP rights will affect your dealings with third parties and whether any action should be taken. For instance, you may have a technology that you are developing and need to work with a third party to develop it but do not want the third party to disclose any information on the technology to the public. In this case, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) (also called a Confidentiality Agreement) should be created and signed by both parties. Another example, is that your start-up may hire a third party to build a product in which case a contract with an IP clause should be put in place setting out who owns the existing IP and the IP that is generated during the contract. Step 5 involves estimating how much IP rights will cost on an annual basis and then budgeting for these costs. For a start-up, funds are limited so lowering IP costs is important. This may include working with a company that provides services for free or at a low cost (for example some commercialization centres may conduct prior art searches for free). A start-up can also do some IP work themselves such as searching the public domain including some of the major patent and trademark databases for technology that has been described or trademarks that have been registered that are pertinent to the start-up’s products or services. In addition, a start-up can try to negotiate with legal service providers to perform certain legal services for a capped fee rather than charging by the hour – in this regard the start-up should look at what it can do to work more efficiently with the legal service provider to help reduce costs. Step 6 involves internally tracking the IP rights that have been or are being obtained (e.g. your IP portfolio), monitoring your start-up’s activity to see if new IP rights can be obtained and policing the market place to see if anyone is infringing on your IP rights. Internally tracking the IP rights generally includes keeping track of the start-up’s IP rights in terms of any registered rights that have been obtained, any applications that are currently being examined, any upcoming due dates related to certain procedures or maintenance fees and the generation of new IP (e.g. through new product development and marketing). Policing the market place may involve looking for products that have technology which is similar to the claims of the start-up’s patented technology or looking for products, services and companies having names that are similar to any trademarks or trade names for which the start-up may have registered or common law rights. To conclude, IP is important for any company and a start-up must consider how to use IP rights to support its business strategy right from the start. This includes having a business strategy in place, being knowledgeable about IP rights, determining which IP rights can be used to support the business strategy, determining the IP rights of others and how it may affect the start-up’s ability to obtain IP rights, and managing the IP portfolio and policing the marketplace to look for infringers.]]>

Biotechnology Focus: CREATIVE COLLABORATION – AGREEMENTS THAT WORK

Sign up for BioNova Boost: IP strategy talk for life science startups May 8th See original article here McCartney & Lennon, Jobs & Wozniak, Watson & Crick. We are all looking for synergistic collaborations. In life sciences, some of those collaborations may be with your employees, independent contractors or corporate research partners. This article will look at a few key IP issues to tie up in your research with others on patentable inventions. Being prepared for any outcome is important – not all the collaborations mentioned above had happy endings! Identifying Inventors Going into a research project, there is an end goal and you may have a sense of who the likely inventors will be. However, there are usually a few unexpected problems to resolve, plans change, and perhaps there will be a touch of serendipity. Inventors may be owners by default so you need to control everyone’s potential IP. It is also important to properly identify all inventors on a patent filing. As an example, in a case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada, two NIH scientists tested samples of GSK’s AZT drug in a human HIV assay on a blinded basis. GSK controlled the scientists’ input for scientific integrity and to try to maintain sole inventorship. The NIH scientists were ultimately not considered inventors. So those doing outsourced work to verify efficacy, even with a complex assay, may not be inventors (the NIH invention was its assay, not use of AZT for treating HIV). Consider whether inventorship may have differed if the NIH scientists had been involved earlier in the project, and in more detail, knowing the drug they were assessing going in, interpreting results, and advising GSK on efficacy for treating HIV. Involve your research partners as much as you wish, but know the potential IP consequences on inventorship. Tying Up Ownership with Assignments Your employees and independent contractors should sign an agreement transferring IP to your company. If you are outsourcing research or clinical work on a fee-for-service basis, those partners should also agree that your company owns the IP. If your company is in need of a partner for complex analysis, solving problems, making an invention and commercializing it, then both organizations may expect to share in the ownership. Nonetheless, companies can make whatever ownership arrangements they wish, for example, having ownership follow inventorship or basing it on the subject matter of the particular invention made. As well, depending on the country, there may be restrictions on how each co-owner can commercialize or transfer their own rights to an outsider owner, so an agreement helps manage this activity. In a recent case in Alberta, a disgruntled former employee tried to deny transferring his IP ownership to his company, for a sonic tool to improve oil well production. However, he had signed a broad agreement transferring IP, and the inventions he made fell within the clause, so the company owned his IP. The IP assignment stood up even though the inventor had never been fully paid. Agreements The terms of a commercial collaboration should be in writing to ensure that expectations are managed, and everyone feels they are treated fairly going in. Agreements between companies collaborating on research projects are a rulebook, setting out the research milestones, commercial plan and sharing of proceeds. It is good to have agreements in place early on before revenue starts to flow, so that parties’ entitlements and obligations are clear before there is money on the table. These agreements will deal with IP in inventions, but may also deal with other types of IP ownership, for example, in written manuals, graphic design, software code and other work product. This ensures that the IP is transferred to the appropriate owner, regardless of who is the author or inventor. It is important to have clear financial terms, and to make sure everyone is on the same page with respect to when payment is due. In a case in Ontario, an inventor sold his invention (a cold air draft-blocker for a window) to a company that manufactured and distributed the product. The agreement was a bit ambiguous on when the royalty obligation ended, so the two companies ended up in litigation. The court fairly picked an earlier date to end royalties, and the inventor was cut off earlier than he liked. A clear agreement would have avoided litigation. Use IP agreements early on and wisely in all your collaborations. Get good legal advice to make sure you dot all the i’s and cross the t’s. This expression sounds overly cautious, but there was a case just a few years ago where Rogers and Aliant litigated over the positioning of a comma in a contract clause, which affected liability for millions of dollars in royalties!]]>

ENTREVESTOR: BlueLight To Attend Fundica Event

See original story here BlueLight Analytics, the Halifax company that helps dentists cure fillings properly, appears to be the lone Atlantic Canadian competitor in the Fundica Roadshow this year. The organizers on Wednesday announced the 18 companies that will pitch at its event in Montreal on May 1. The list includes BlueLight. The Fundica Roadshow is an annual competition open to startups from across the country, with a cash prize being given to the winner from all the roadshows. The prize this year is a maximum of $500,000 in cash. The organizers this year have announced pitching events only in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and offered to cover the travel costs of three companies not based in those cities. Atlantic Canadian companies could apply for one of these packages to attend the Montreal event, and BlueLight was the only company accepted. Growing out of research at Dalhousie University, BlueLight began about eight years ago to solve a problem with the lights dentists use to cure resin. These lights vary greatly, and each model has to be used for just the right amount of time to cure the resin properly. BlueLight developed the checkMARC system, which can test and identify the efficacy of a dental office’s curing lights. It has partnered with industrial giant 3M Corp. to greatly expand the startup’s sales power in the U.S. Last year, the Fundica Roadshow brought together over 150 startups, 2000 attendees, 132 funders, and 125 partners, making it the largest pitch competition across Canada. The 2017 competition included a stop in Halifax, at which the regional winner was Halifax-based Grey Lit Matters. This year, the pitching competitions will be head in Montreal on May 1, Vancouver on May 31 and Toronto on June 28. As many as 20 entrepreneurs will be selected to pitch in each city. The top pitchers in each city will win prizes and an invitation to the Finale in Montreal on July 12. The winner of the Finale will have a chance for investment of up to $500,000 from Panache Ventures.]]>

Newswire: Record-high venture capital funding and deals in Canada in Q1'18 according to the MoneyTree Canada Report

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  • AI companies riding even higher as waves of investment continue to grow
  • Internet quarterly funding up 155% and healthcare funding up 66%
  • Toronto funding increased by 165%, with a 73% increase in deals
TORONTOApril 25, 2018 /CNW/ – Reaching a six-year quarterly high, investment funding (all figures in USD) and number of deals to venture-backed Canadian companies increased significantly during the first quarter of 2018, according to the MoneyTree™ Report from PwC Canada and CB Insights. More than $1B, was invested across 105 deals. This represents a 52% increase in investments from the previous quarter and a 30% increase in the number of deals.
“With a record $1 billion in VC financing, Q1 sets a high bar and shows that 2018 is off to a great start. Canada continues  to be an innovative and attractive market when it comes to financing and it is set to continue,” said Chris Dulny, National Technology Industry Leader, PwC Canada. “Investment in Canadian companies reached record highs this quarter, in both deals and dollars. Unlike financing to venture-backed companies in the US market, private investment increased in Canada,” stated Anand Sanwal, co-founder and CEO of CB Insights. “Canadian AI and digital health companies keep drawing attention as they received significant investment, helping contribute to this record quarter. It’ll be interesting to see if this quarter’s momentum in those noteworthy sectors continues.” Total quarterly investments to Canadian AI companies increased 88% to $83M across 8 deals in Q1 ’18. The majority of the deals are in the seed and early stages and compared to previous quarters, they are attracting larger investments. Digital health companies also witnessed an upward trend as deal activity and funding increased to $22M across 6 deals, up from just one deal in Q4’17. The types of projects that receive funding are split evenly between B2B and B2C all of which provide access to health information more efficiently. Canadian Internet companies experienced the largest increase with 155% increase in funding to $355M across 41 deals, a 52% increase from the previous quarter, representing a return to a historical range recorded in Q2’17 and Q3’17. The report shows a notable increase in consumer retail, with 11 deals further delivering on the promise of omnichannel retail. Funding to Canadian healthcare companies increased 66% with a total of $126M invested, while deals to the sector declined to 10 deals for the second straight quarter, down one from Q4’17. Despite a successful Q4’17, investments to Fintech companies declined by 60%  from the previous quarter as only $88Mwas invested across 8 deals in Q1’18. Funding to Canadian Mobile & Telecom companies declined by 66% with $70Minvested across 12 deals. Key highlights for Q1’18:
  • Corporate participation declined, with 28% of all deals to Canadian companies featuring at least one participation by corporate venture capital investor compared to 30% in Q4’17.
  • Seed-stage activity remained flat as a percentage of overall deal activity, accounting for 28% of deals for the second quarter. Early stage deal share increased 25% this quarter, up from 19% in Q4’17.
  • In terms of regional activity, Toronto saw a 165% increase in funding and 73% increase in deal activity as $321M was invested across 38 deals. Deal activity in Vancouver hit an eight-quarter high as total quarterly funding declined 31% compared to Q4’17. Montreal was up 96% in investments despite two fewer deals in Q1’18 as $399M was invested across 16 deals. Ottawa’s total quarterly funding increased to $14M as 5 deals were completed, up from three in Q4’17. Waterloo deal activity remained low, while funding increased 68%.
  • Most active investors included BDC, MaRS, iNovia Capital and Fonds de Solidarite FTQ.
The MoneyTree Report can be accessed here.
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