ENTREVESTOR: Tranquility Tackles Founders’ Anxiety

Read the full article here After taking his online treatment for anxiety through an initial pilot, Joel Muise is now working with those at the coalface of anxiety—entrepreneurs—before launching TranquilityOnline to the general public in the new year. TranquilityOnline aims to make getting treatment for anxiety affordable and timely by allowing users to access online support through a coach rather than a therapist. Coaches use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, to show sufferers how to shift negative thought patterns to balanced ones, and how to face challenges rather than avoid them. Muise said the new paid pilot with Halifax’s Volta Labs startup house will allow Tranquility to work with seven entrepreneurs over six months. Volta will pay Tranquility $1,400 each month — money which will go toward covering the costs associated with launching to the general public in the new year. Continue reading]]>

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.]]>


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: ABK Raised $9M in Equity in August

See original story here ABK Biomedical has raised more than $9 million in an over-subscribed round of equity funding that closed last August.  The larger equity base has allowed the company to borrow $3 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund. The Halifax-based medical device maker revealed that it closed the Series A funding round – one of the largest in Atlantic Canada last year – during discussions about its latest borrowing from the AIF, a fund operated by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. ABK is working to improve a process used to kill some forms of tumour: tiny beads cling to tumours, depriving them of blood flow and thereby shrinking or killing them. The company hopes that its first product – which is now awaiting regulatory approval in the U.S. – will be one of the first beads on the market that can be seen by x-ray, and this will help doctors assess how well the treatment is working. As well as helping to finance regulatory applications, the company said the new funds will help it to manufacture its products in Nova Scotia once it receives regulatory clearance. “The AIF funding announced yesterday will be supporting some of the most advanced medical device manufacturing capabilities in this region, and will help us to succeed as an Atlantic Canadian medical device company that will manufacture locally and sell novel life-saving products globally,” said CEO Bob Abraham in an email Friday. It had been known that ABK was raising money, though the size of the round was surprising. Abraham said the company was originally after $7.6 million in funding but it attracted more commitments than expected, with most of the funding coming from the U.S. and Asia. Innovacorp, which had invested in the company previously, contributed $1.1 million to the round. ecognition of the value of our portfolio of imageable embolic products in development, the great team we had assembled and importantly, the recognition of the significant support ABK receives in Atlantic Canada through organizations such as ACOA,” said Abraham. ABK – which last raised funding in 2014 through the Halifax-based First Angel Network and Wilmington Investor Network of North Carolina – was one of several Nova Scotian startups to close funding rounds of $8 million or more last year.  Halifax’s ManifoldAffinioMetamaterial Technologies and Liverpool, NS-based Aqualitas all closed major rounds. (The Aqualitas round may be considered to be more project financing for its core cannabis business.) The next big news for ABK is likely to be regulatory clearance in the U.S. for its first product, the x-ray-visible beads. This product is currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration in a 510k application, which establishes whether a device is safe and effective. ABK hopes to gain approval later this year, “after which we are planning a controlled launch into the U.S. market,” said Abraham.  He added the company hopes for Health Canada approval in late 2019. Abraham also said the company is working on another series of beads, the Y-90 radioembolic product, which actually emits radiation. “We are quite excited about the potential of this product to be a game changer in our field,” said Abraham, adding that the regulatory requirements mean it will have a longer road to commercialization. ABK is also in the early stages of developing a degradable bead which will block blood supply to tumours then disappear from the body after a short period of time.   Disclosure: ACOA and Innovacorp are clients of Entrevestor.]]>