The fund, which will focus primarily on early stage drug development and life sciences company opportunities, enables a new investment model in Quebec, involving the formation by the fund of single therapeutic asset companies. The fund, domiciled in Montreal, is expected to benefit the entire local life sciences ecosystem of researchers, entrepreneurs, business partners and service providers.
"There are many challenges today in financing early-stage life sciences innovation,” said Darren Carroll, vice president of corporate business development, Eli Lilly. “We are hopeful that the project-focused company model will allow for greater cost efficiency, thus focusing development efforts on the most promising therapeutic products.
The fund meets the three key requirements set by Teralys Capital to successfully invest in the life sciences sector and to better support businesses in Quebec: an optimal fund size of at least $150 million, the reach of a proven international network and the participation of key strategic partners. Teralys Capital and Lilly are joined in the fund by leading institutional investors including Fondaction, BDC Venture Capital and Advantus Capital Management, a subsidiary of the Minnesota Life Insurance.
As part of the arrangement, Lilly will establish a Canadian unit of Chorus in Montreal. Chorus, an autonomous unit of Lilly, is a global-early-phase drug development network that focuses on designing and executing lean and highly-focused development plans that cost-effectively progress potential medicines from candidate selection to clinical proof-of-concept. Chorus draws on internal Lilly skills, CROs and external consultants with very specific areas of expertise. Chorus Canada will work with development service providers across the province and elsewhere to offer development services to project-focused companies based primarily in Quebec.
“This new investment will support a more efficient way to develop innovation in Canada and will hopefully lead to improved outcomes for individual patients around the world,” said Michael Mason, president and general manager, Eli Lilly Canada. “Establishing a Chorus division in Montreal illustrates Lilly's commitment to 'research without walls' and to investing in research and development in Canada. We are proud that Chorus Canada will employ scientific experts in Montreal, and contribute to job creation and ongoing employment within this industry in the province and Canada."