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Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator - Accel-Rx

$16 million for 2014-21
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Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$27.5 million

Vancouver, British Columbia

President and CEO
Natalie  Dakers Natalie Dakers

Board chair
David Main David Main

Building a critical mass of health sciences companies in Canada

The opportunity

Canada’s support of basic and applied research has built a strong foundation for the commercialization of health research. Many of these discoveries are turned into new businesses. Unfortunately, too many of these firms have failed, left the country or were sold to foreign companies because of an inability to raise new funds. Canada’s life sciences industry is showing positive signs of maturity, but access to capital, strategic partners and experienced entrepreneurs continues to constrain the sector’s success. In response, a group of health-related Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECRs) backed a national centre with the scale, resources and partnerships to focus specifically on growing start-ups and creating a new generation of strong health sciences anchor companies based in Canada.

How Accel-Rx is seizing the opportunity

Accel-Rx leverages the expertise and infrastructure already created at seven CECRs (the Centre for Drug Research and Development [CDRD], MaRS Innovation, the Vancouver Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development, the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, NEOMED and the MedDev Commercialization Centre) to aid in identifying technologies from across the country. Accel-Rx then employs a highly-qualified and diverse panel of experts to aid in the further screening and evaluation of these opportunities in order to select the top 3-4 companies per year with the highest technical and commercial potential to become part of the Accel-Rx Growth Platform. The selected companies receive an investment of up to $1 million in seed funding from Accel-Rx and funding partner BDC Capital – to be matched by other investors – as well as support services to ensure their development into Series A investment ready companies.

Among the results

  • Since its inception in 2014, Accel-Rx has screened more than 200 early-stage health science companies across Canada, selecting 10 for investment. These high potential companies are developing technologies with great promise to make a significant impact on the healthcare landscape. A few highlights include the development of:
    • a novel target for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease (ImStar Therapeutics);
    • the first drug therapy to prevent hypoglycemia in people with diabetes (Zucara Therapeutics);
    • a novel approach to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (KalGene Pharmaceuticals); and,
    • shockwave therapy to break through total occlusions in arteries and address unmet needs in cardiovascular therapy (SoundBite Medical Solutions).
  • With an investment of just $5 million in 10 start-ups, Accel-Rx has enabled $44.6 million in co-investment. That’s a public to private leverage ratio of 8.9, with an average deal size of $4.96 million. Of the ten start-ups Accel-Rx has fostered, two have successfully achieved a Series A financing (Soundbite Medical Solutions and KisoJi Biotechnology), raising an additional $39.7 million in follow-on funding.
  • Accel-Rx has developed effective relationships with 40 investors to date and is continuing to build new connections with investors in Asia, Europe and the US to ensure companies in Canada are well capitalized in the ecosystem.
  • Accel-Rx support goes beyond funding. The company regularly holds top-tier investment forums, networking and educational events, as well as CEO roundtables. Accel-Rx has also developed the Accel-Rx Mentor Program (AMP), a national team-based mentoring program that matches a team of seasoned industry executives with early stage start- ups. These initiatives form the company’s Growth Platform which adopts a customized approach for each portfolio company to ensure investor-readiness.

Connect with Accel-Rx


Accel-Rx and BDC partnership to grow life sciences companies
September 2, 2015
Canada has embarked on a bold and proven approach to turn the country’s $6-billion investment in basic health research into successful and well-managed companies that attract investment, generate profits and create jobs for Canadians. Read more