Reviewing the 2019 Niagara Investment Summit, Day 1

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The OBIO 2019 Niagara Investment Summit, held in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake from February 20th through 22nd, brought together CEOs and senior executives representing Canadian health science companies from Halifax to Vancouver, global investors and venture capitalists, and health science industry leaders for two days of company presentations, one-on-one meetings, panel discussions and keynote speakers.

Attending companies presented across three streams connected to the Summit’s theme – Precision Medicine: Canada, a Leader in the New Era – and met with investors both formally at scheduled one-on-one meetings and informally during the Summit’s networking events. The 2019 Niagara Investment Summit’s unique, curated format with investors identified by area of interest and a selection of Canada’s most innovation health science companies created opportunities for focused conversation and potential partnerships that will help to build Canada’s health science economy.

After attendees arrived on the evening of February 20th, the Summit opened on February 21st with breakfast and welcoming remarks from OBIO CEO Gail Garland before the first panel discussion – Scaling Canadian Health Science Companies. Moderator Anthony de Fazekas (Norton Rose Fulbright) led a discussion that focused on identifying and overcoming the bottlenecks that are faced by Canadian health science companies which feature world-class science and are looking to scale to become globally competitive. The panellists – Sean Kendall (ARCH Venture Partners), Kadir Kadhiresan (J&J Innovation), Antoine Boulanger (Forbion Capital Partners), Frank Gleeson (Satellos) and Gay Yuyitung (MILO, McMaster University) contributed their perspectives on the top challenges facing health science companies and what Canadian entrepreneurs should be thinking about as they look to scale globally. From issues of governance to ensuring that Canadian companies can secure global investment while staying in Canada, the first panel of the 2019 Niagara Investment Summit kicked off a robust discussion.

The Summit then broke out into three rooms for presentations from the participating companies. (For a complete list of the companies that presented at the 2019 Niagara Investment Summit, please visit obioinvestmentsummit.com/companies.) Spread throughout the morning, anchor presentations were delivered by Dr. Duncan Stewart, Executive VP, Research at The Ottawa Hospital and President and Scientific Director of OIRM, “New Approaches in Regenerative Medicine to Treat Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, and Neurogenerative Disease”, and Dr. Bryce Pickard, COO and Managing Director at CANet, “Digital Health & Diagnostics: The Power of Advanced Knowledge to Alter Disease Progression.”

Reconvening for the Summit’s keynote speaker over lunch, Dr. Hamid Tizhoosh, Professor, Faculty of Engineering, University of Waterloo and Director of the KIMIA Lab, delivered a presentation entitled “Searching is Intelligence: AI Solutions for Medical Imaging” which provided a broad sweep of the field of artificial intelligence as it relates to healthcare, why it’s such a hot sector right now,  before focusing in on the opportunity of medical image analysis using AI for search.

The afternoon session of company presentations also featured an anchor presentation from Peter Suma, Chairman and co-CEO of Applied Brain Research, “Real-time Intelligence for Healthcare: AI Computing at the Edge Inspired by the Brain”, and Brian Hanrahan, Biotech Program Director at Starfish Medical, “Medical Device Opportunities in Cellular Therapies and Regenerative Medicine.”

In particular, participating investors commented on the array of expert presentations as creating even more interest in the Summit overall as they are curious about upcoming breakthroughs.

Following the full day of company and expert presentations, Summit attendees moved to continue the conversations that they had started during the day over dinner at Peller Estates, featuring great local wines, some relevant local cross-border history on the War of 1812 provided by the Niagara Historical Society and Museum, before finishing off with an ice wine tasting and a marshmallow roast over an open fire!

Enjoy the gallery of photos from Day 1 below. 

Next week, we will summarize Day 2 of the 2019 Niagara Investment Summit.