AWARD SPOTLIGHT: BDC Industrial Innovation Fund ‑ Winner of CVCA's 2022 VC Regional Impact Award for Western Canada for Precision NanoSystems Inc.
When Joe Regan was recruited to head BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund in 2019, the first company he wanted to invest in was Vancouver-based biomanufacturing pioneer Precision NanoSystems (PNI).
“It was a little outside the original thesis of the fund but given my background in life sciences investing and their biomanufacturing focus, I knew what they were doing was pretty pivotal work in an emerging field of biotherapeutics and be instrumental in providing solutions for disease,” says Regan, the managing partner at BDC Capital.
Four months later, BDC Capital co-invested in PNI’s Series C financing, alongside two other U.S. venture funds.
PNI is a global leader in ushering in the next wave of genetic medicines for infectious diseases, cancer, and rare diseases. The company develops technologies and solutions for genetic medicines, including mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. Its Genetic Medicine Toolkit helps speed up the development of genetic medicines.
CEO James Taylor, who started the company with three other co-founders in 2010, says the pandemic highlighted the need for biopharmaceutical manufacturing in Canada.
He says having BDC on board as an investor was helpful for PNI to land a partnership with the federal government to help develop a $50-million biomanufacturing centre in Vancouver.
PNI received a $25.1‑million contribution from Ottawa’s Strategic Innovation Fund for the biomanufacturing project, which is dedicated to the production of ribonucleic acid (RNA) lipid nanoparticle vaccines and genetic medicines. Taylor said the centre will expand Canada’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness capacity and enable PNI to expand its development and manufacturing services to support the clinical development and supply of new medicines.
Last year, PNI announced it was being acquired by Danaher Corporation’s Life Sciences platform. The deal was awarded the CVCA’s VC Regional Impact Award for Western Canada.
“PNI has advanced a number of exciting innovations and we’re thrilled to welcome this talented team,” Emmanuel Ligner, Danaher Group Executive, said in a statement announcing the deal last June. “As mRNA has matured as a successful technology in some COVID vaccines, we’re seeing huge potential for this technology to accelerate other therapies.”
Taylor said joining Danaher’s Life Sciences platform will help his team expand its work and provide more expertise to manufacture transformative medicines for the global population.
“It’s a really wonderful fit,” Taylor says. “Danaher is one of the most successful companies in providing technologies to pharmaceutical companies, so it’s very attractive for us to take what we have and significantly augment our vision and accelerate our ability to impact the world by enabling drug companies to make genomic medicine.”
PNI and Danaher continue to rapidly grow PNI’s operations and build its world-leading team in Vancouver.
The company currently employs more than 225 people, doubling its headcount since 2020. It focuses on hiring employees locally who have a background in STEM.
“It’s a key focus of mine that the company continues to be built out here in Vancouver,” Taylor says, adding the company’s new 75,000 square-foot headquarters in the city will be ready in stages starting later this year and into 2023. PNI’s new genetic medicine GMP Biomanufacturing Centre will also be housed at the site.
“We’re looking to continue to grow, hire a tremendous number of people, and become the world leader and enabling solutions that make these medicines,” Taylor says, while also describing it as a “once-in-a-generation revolution in medicine.”