TELUS Ventures is investing in three Canadian precision medicine and diagnostics-focused start-ups as part of its larger goal to help develop exciting, new health technologies with the potential to improve the health outcomes of people across Canada and around the world through the delivery of customized and timely patient care.
TELUS Ventures has more than 30 other active investment companies and is one of the world’s top 100 corporate venture capital firms, having invested in more than 100 “promising start-ups” across a broad swathe of industries since its 2001 formation.
“Customers across our healthcare provider, pharmacy, insurance, employer and executive health channels are increasingly united in their desire to adopt next generation precision medicine and diagnostic tools….”
As part of a mandate to support healthy aging, TELUS is also actively involved with the technology and aging network AGE-WELL and managing partner Rich Osborn is on AGE-WELL’s board of directors (Read: Rich Osborn on How Telus Ventures is Transforming Canada’s Medical Landscape One Investment at a Time).
“Customers across our healthcare provider, pharmacy, insurance, employer and executive health channels are increasingly united in their desire to adopt next generation precision medicine and diagnostic tools in order to improve the patient journey, reduce costs and deliver better patient outcomes,” Osborn says of the most recent announcement. “Our investments in these startups and their innovative management teams keep us close to budding new technologies and will allow us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs as these technologies become mainstream.”
The start-ups include:
Acorn Biolabs: The Toronto-based company has developed an at-home collection kit that allows patients to collect and preserve live hair follicle cells for future use, providing them with the opportunity for full genome banking and the potential to access medical insights and therapies leveraging their own cells. This is a boon to an aging population, as younger cells have higher success rates in many emerging medical therapies. By storing cells today, Acorn’s services allow customers to maximize opportunities to take advantage yet-to-be discovered, potentially lifesaving medical advancements. (The company recently closed a $3.3 million seed financing with a syndicate including TELUS Ventures, Real Ventures and Epic Capital Management.)
Vital Biosciences: This Canadian company is focused on radically improving how people monitor their health and manage disease. Vital remains in stealth mode, quietly operating with a focus on the business, building products that combine cutting-edge science, advanced engineering and intuitive design in ways that make monitoring health and managing disease accessible to all. (The company is well supported by Telus and a number of leading early stage North American and international venture funds and angels.)
GenXys: The Vancouver-based company offers precision prescribing software and pharmacogenetics testing to personalize drug selection to increase treatment effectiveness. GenXys’ software integrates into the healthcare clinician’s workflow, allowing for the seamless delivery of genome-optimized prescriptions, thereby preventing adverse drug reactions and ultimately helping improve patient outcomes. (Telus participated in GenXys’ $1.8 million seed financing alongside healthcare-focused angel investors and is partnering with GenXys in the Digital Technology Supercluster to improve the integration of precision prescribing into the clinician’s workflow.)
“The market for precision medicine and diagnostics is poised for significant growth as patient-centred, value-based care gains traction in Canada and the acceleration of technological innovation helps to drive down costs,” TELUS said in a statement. “These three early stage companies are positioned to become leaders in their specific areas of focus each tackling a unique problem within this growing market, and backed by both strong management teams and quality investors.”
These investments demonstrate a commitment to improving the Canadian health IT ecosystem and follow other recent health investments, including Akira, League, MindBeacon and MedStack Inc.