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Pender Ventures named a recipient of VCCI’s life sciences stream funding

We are thrilled to announce that Pender Ventures has been selected as a fund manager recipient for the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative’s (VCCI) life sciences stream. With this support, we can invest in even more innovative companies that are bringing groundbreaking solutions to the healthcare market.

As a VCCI fund recipient, Pender Ventures will be responsible for investing a portion of the federal government’s $50 million commitment to high-growth technology companies in the life sciences sector. We are so grateful and excited to continue our investments through the Pender Technology Inflection Fund II (PTIF II) with the support of VCCI.

Our focus: Health IT

Canada ranks among the world’s top spenders on healthcare, both per capita and as a proportion of GDP. However, the sector has long been plagued by lengthy wait times, staffing shortages, and challenges in long-term care homes, all of which were exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, the responsibility for improving the health and quality of life for Canadians rested solely with medical device and drug companies. But to address the current challenges, we need to go further. Canada needs innovative solutions that provide better access to data and insights, enabling more informed decision-making throughout the healthcare ecosystem. This is what we refer to as “Health IT.”

While Canada is home to many fantastic investors in biotechnology, few are focused on Health IT specifically. This is mainly because Health IT investments require unique expertise in healthcare, healthcare systems, and technology development.

When launching PTIF II, we sought to address this gap by focusing on B2B software companies that aim to improve healthcare delivery, whether it’s in clinical decision support, software for drug development or patient data management.

Our investment team has decades of combined investment experience in Health IT. Our first fund, PTIF I, comprised a portfolio of health-tech pioneers, such as Jane Software, Clarius Mobile Health, DrugBank  and Swift Medical. PTIF II has also already invested in one Health IT company: DistillerSR (formerly Evidence Partners), and we expect Health IT will comprise at least half of all PTIF II investments going forward.

“We are thrilled about this announcement,” says Meryeme Lahmami, principal at Pender Ventures. “Health IT remains relatively underfunded and underserved by the Canadian VC community, and we are committed to finding and partnering with innovative companies that drive tangible impact across the healthcare ecosystem.”

Why now?

The healthcare industry is grappling with various challenges that impede its ability to offer the best possible care—outdated legacy systems, increasing complexity, rising costs, government and regulatory limitations, and concerns around patient trust and privacy.

In light of these challenges, we believe that the healthcare industry is ripe for innovation and disruption, and we believe three key factors are contributing to this momentum:

  1. Patients are driving the liberation of their own health data, which is incentivizing providers to catch up and use that data to offer better care.
  2. Life science advancements, coupled with machine learning and artificial intelligence, are poised to tackle healthcare industry challenges in genomics, digital epidemiology, and personalized medicine.
  3. The pandemic has both accelerated the adoption of technology and exposed underlying challenges in our healthcare system, ultimately paving the way for increased openness to new technologies.

Driving healthcare innovation

Building off the factors above, we plan to target investment opportunities in the following areas:

  • Research and development: solutions that accelerate the discovery and creation of new treatments
  • Screening and diagnosis: solutions that improve identification of disease
  • Prediction and prevention: solutions that enable early outcomes and cost efficiency
  • Care delivery: solutions that drive better care
  • Administration: solutions that increase operational efficiency

Alongside our investments, we also have plans to launch a national conference this year and will invite investors, founders, executives from hospitals and large enterprises, and other ecosystem players to collectively discuss and tackle the critical challenges facing our healthcare system through the lens of technology. Stay tuned for more details!

Thank you to Minister Mary Ng and the Government of Canada for recognizing the value of investing in IT solutions that support the entire life sciences industry. We’re thrilled to continue being a part of this exciting and growing sector.

If you’re interested in reading more about Pender Ventures’ approach to Health IT, we invite you to check out our 2022 Health Tech Report, compiled by Meryeme Lahmami and a recent op-ed from our managing partner, Maria Pacella, on some of the current challenges surrounding health-tech adoption in Canada.

Also see: Federal Government Names Six Funds To Distribute $50 Million VCCI Life Science Financing and Ottawa picks six funds for $50M program to boost life-sciences venture capital.

Follow Pender Ventures on Twitter and LinkedIn for more news and insights on Health IT and Canadian healthcare innovation.

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