Versant Ventures, a US-based life sciences venture capital firm, revealed today that it is expanding operations into Canada to invest in early-stage drug discovery programs. The firm hopes to establish new life science companies that can accelerate the commercialization of scientific research in Canada.
"We are investing in Canada to develop early-stage companies because we believe there is a strong combination of drug discovery talent as well as leading academic research across the country," says Brad Bolzon, managing director of Versant Ventures. "We want to accelerate the creation of new biotech companies that can flourish here."
Versant has established an office and created an Inception Sciences drug discovery engine in Vancouver to launch new companies. The management team at Versant is planning on launching a similar unit in Montreal in 2014.
Versant also recently formed a biotechnology incubator in Toronto, called Blueline Bioscience, which is headquartered in the MaRS Discovery District of Toronto.
Bolzon says that Versant is making "a long-term commitment to Canada."
"We specialize in commercializing novel discoveries and believe that working with local, dynamic research teams here in Canada can take them to the next level," Bolzon said.
Versant has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management in life sciences.
"Versant has a unique model for investing in and launching early-stage companies and we see ourselves being very active in the Canadian biotechnology sector going forward," noted Jerel Davis, principal with Versant Ventures who oversees Canadian operations for the firm. "We have established ourselves in Vancouver, have already launched a new company in that market, and have created Blueline Bioscience in Toronto."