Feature

Three NB Biotech Companies Prepare for BioInnovation Challenge

HALIFAX–Three New Brunswick companies will travel to Halifax in October to compete with five other semi-finalists in the 2016 edition of The BioInnovation Challenge, a pitch competition that is part of the annual life sciences industry event BioPort Atlantic.

The challenge will take place over two days in October when semi-finalists will present to a panel of judges. The top three presenters will then pitch again to judges and to the conference audience. The winner will be announced on the afternoon of October 26.

The New Brunswick companies participating include Somadetect (diagnostic technology for dairy producers), Biopharm Nexus (a portable liver disease diagnostic kit) and Chinova Bioworks (an antimicrobial agent from fungal-sourced chitosan biopolymer).

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SomaDetect’s Nicholas Clermont and Bethany Deshpande

Semi-finalists recently finished up a boot camp in Halifax in preparation for the competition. Bethany Deshpande of SomaDetect says the boot camp was a great opportunity to get to know other biotech companies and refine their pitch.

“It was an ideal moment for SomaDetect to be involved in that because we didn’t have a pitch developed at all before attending,” Deshpande said. “We learned a lot and we were really excited to move forward, not only in terms of bioinnovation but also with what we’ve built around the rest of the project.”

Deshpande explained that while she has built pitches for others and coached them through pitches during her work with the SHAD program in Quebec City, she has never built and delivered a pitch for her own initiative.

SomaDetect is currently trying to connect with dairy farmers and anyone in the industry who can give them a hand with their project.

Biopharm Nexus co-founders Laboni Ahsan and Kateryna Hryniw

Biopharm Nexus co-founders Laboni Ahsan and Kateryna Hryniw

Biopharm Nexus co-founders Laboni Ahsan and Kateryna Hryniw, who both have science backgrounds, said the boot camp helped them out with the business side of things.

“We’re both new to the business aspect of this,” Hryniw said. “It was really interesting to learn a lot about how to do the perfect pitch and how to do the presentation and what investors look for and so forth. We had some financial training as well as marketing training.”

Biopharm Nexus is now trying to get their product onto the market and are seeking out funding. They then need to secure Health Canada regulation approval and do commercialization and marketing first in Canada and then in the US.

Chinova CEO Natasha Dhayagude and COO David Brown

Chinova CEO Natasha Dhayagude and COO David Brown

Chinova Bioworks recently finished the three month IndieBio accelerator in Cork, Ireland. CEO Natasha Dhayagude says the combination of pitch training they received there and the BioInnovation Challenge boot camp training has given her a lot to work with.

“Everyone, I find, has their own formula of what makes a great pitch so I’ve been taking different aspects of everyone’s training and putting them together to make one big pitch,” Dhayagude said.”

“It’s just to try to grow the company, try to focus on our research, trying to please our clients. That to me is my number one goal for the next few months, to work with our clients and come up with the best product, optimize that product to the best of our ability.”

The winner of the BioInnovation Challenge will receive a $15,000 seed investment and a package of support services and mentoring valued at more than $30,000. The second and third place finalists will receive services valued at over $5,000.