Accel-RX co-founder Natalie Dakers comes full circle with adMare BioInnovations

David Hains
January 22, 2020

When Natalie Dakers, the founding president and CEO of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), decided to shift her full-time focus to her Vancouver-based health sciences business accelerator Accel-Rx in 2015, it was because she wanted to better support early-stage health sciences companies to connect with the resources they need to scale.

Now, to achieve those goals, Accel-Rx is joining adMare BioInnovations, the Vancouver- and Montreal-based national innovation organization that was formed in 2019 out of CDRD and NEOMED.

Dakers foresees a big win for the early-stage companies that work with Accel-Rx. "We've been thinking for a while now that scale is important," she explained to RE$EARCH MONEY, adding that she had been exploring opportunities for Accel-Rx for the past six months. "Smaller centres in this day and age are just not being supported," she said.

The combined adMare organization has helped build companies worth over $2.5 billion, a prospect that makes Dakers excited. She said Accel-Rx's early-stage companies will continue to receive attention, management will be consistent, there will be opportunities to access talent and capital, and there should be increased networking opportunities that can be valuable for companies trying to scale. "It seemed like a natural fit."

Some of those companies that she wants to see grow include the likes of SoundBite Medical Solutions, a Montreal-based firm that is developing proprietary shockwave technology for cardiovascular therapy; KisoJi Biotechnology, which is focused on therapeutic antibodies with anti-cancer mechanisms; and Zucara Therapeutics, a Vancouver-based early-stage firm that is working on developing a drug therapy to prevent hypoglycemia in order to improve diabetes disease management.

The existing Accel-Rx portfolio will continue to be overseen by Frédéric Lemaître Auger, who will be based out of the NEOMED Innovation Centre in Montreal. The goal will continue to be to connect promising start-ups with private investment to see sustainable growth.

"I've never come across a better fit," adMare president and CEO Gordon McCauley said by phone, saying that the types of companies in Accel-Rx's portfolio, as well as their needs, work well with what adMare offers. "It's a very logical complement."

But McCauley acknowledged that there are challenges in a competitive environment too. Health sciences don't get the same level of support in Canada as a world leader like California, which has a comparable population. He argued that merging a smaller organization like Accel-Rx with adMare gives these companies a better fighting chance. "It's a question of the capacity and expertise in one place to help these companies scale up," he said, adding that capital and talent are the two top needs for companies in the sector, and those are better served in a larger organization with more clout.


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