Sunday Briefing | #120

The Georgia Straight: "Ex-UBC prof Carl Hansen now worth more than $4 billion following spectacular AbCellera Biologics IPO"

Welcome to this edition of the Vancouver Tech Journal Sunday Briefing, your bi-weekly roundup of Vancouver innovation stories and insights.

Last week, reporters explored the steep drop in local venture financing; the Vancouver company providing a crucial piece of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine; B.C. tech startups’ french connection; and why insiders are buying up shares of this Vancouver tech stock.

Read on for more.

Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith reports that ex-UBC prof Carl Hansen (pictured above) is now worth more than $4 billion following spectacular AbCellera Biologics IPO.

On the first day, investors pushed the stock up from US$20 to US$58.90 at the closing bell. According to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Hansen owns 61,827,830 common shares of AbCellera Biologics. Doing the math, Hansen's shares are worth more than US$3.6 billion. Convert that to Canadian currency and it adds up to $4.61 billion.

He immediatly ranks in the top 20 of Canadian billionaires.

Vancouver, B.C. startup Picovoice raised a $500,000 investment from Seattle-based Founders’ Co-op for its platform that lets companies build their own voice-enabled experiences. Per Geekwire:

Developers at Whirlpool, LG, Telenav, and other companies use Picovoice to create voice assistants with custom wake words that run on-device without internet connectivity. It’s similar to saying “Alexa,” or “Hey Google,” to activate Amazon and Google devices, but custom-designed for a specific use case. 

Picovoice is led by Alireza Kenarsari, a former Amazon and Avigilon engineer.

Parallel Domain, a Palo Alto, Calif.- and Vancouver, BC-based synthetic data generation platform, raised $11m in Series A funding.The round was led by Foundry Group, with participation from Calibrate Ventures and existing investors Costanoa Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, and Toyota AI Ventures. The startup’s platform is meant to power and accelerate the development of autonomous systems.

Vancouver- and LA-based Creative Labs, a digital studio co-founded by Creative Artists Agency, has secured a $5 million investment commitment from Japanese entertainment brand Dream Link Entertainment. Launched in 2017, Creative Labs incubates and develops tech-based consumer products and “companies backed by celebrity influence and intelligence.” Most recently, the company launched Fit52, a wellness platform in partnership with singer Carrie Underwood.

Business in Vancouver reports that Q3 venture capital activity in Vancouver and B.C. has dropped 59% compared with the same period last year.

A new report from Inc., commissioned by SVB Financial Group, reveals West Coast companies raised $287 million during the third quarter of 2020.

That’s compared to $696 million in 2019. The number of funding rounds also dropped to 23 from 82.

Jill Barber’s live performance in computer-generated Vancouver nightclub could be a model for concerts in a COVID world. The singer “performed in front of a massive green-screen [with] her band wearing motion capture monitors.”

Using animation technology usually associated with video games and motion pictures, Barber was transported from a sterile suburban studio into a once-legendary Vancouver supper club, The Palomar, torn down more than 60 years ago.

A cast and crew of about 50 people took six weeks to pull it off, around 4,000 fans tuned in.

Variety magazine spotlights Vanouver-based Casting Workbook, which developed a Virtual Casting Room to help ensure the safety of movie talent and casting professionals in the midst of the quarantine. Also showcased is Daniel Domachowski, CEO of Vancouver’s Circus (, a platform that’s moving HR and payroll services to the digital domain.

This is Dr. Thomas Madden, CEO of Acuitas Therapeutics, the Vancouver company providing a crucial piece of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine: “As a private company we’d elected to remain under the radar,” Madden told Sean Silcoff of The Globe and Mail. “When we were involved in the development of COVID-19 vaccines … we thought it was important to let people know that a Canadian company and Canadian technology was playing a critical role.”

Headline of the week

From recycling bins to hygiene wins: B.C. tech aims to make COVID life safer

Still covid

B.C.-designed sport masks prompted by Henry's COVID-19 innovation call-out


Vancouver-based gaming studios Thinking Ape and IUGO Mobile acquired by Swedish firm

Covalent acquires Vancouver blockchain startup Byzantine Labs

WELL Health Technologies has acquired cybersecurity company Source 44

International affairs

It’s a Chimed Life: Meet Steve Mynett, engineering manager at fintech Chime, which recently announced its Vancouver expansion

French city reaches out to B.C. technology startups

Vancouver-based Phoenix Labs, maker of “Dauntless,” expands to Montreal and Los Angelos


Putting the 'virtual' in virtual learning: SFU instructors create immersive classroom using virtual reality

Show you the money

Talk Shop Launches $30,000 Women in Fintech Grant

Boast.AI raises $30m as B.C. tech firm hones in on R&D tax credits for others

Are we heading into a Canadian venture capital “ice age” in 2021?

Building back better

Unsung Heroes in Canadian Cleantech: The Financial Sector Steps Up to Fund the Future

Harbour Air commits to net zero by 2040 becoming the first Canadian company to sign a "climate pledge" spearheaded by Amazon


How to protect your business from work-from-home cybersecurity threats

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond confirms ransomware attack


Vancouver’s ‘Sneaky Sasquatch’ Named One of Apple’s Best Apps of 2020

Health tech entrepreneur and UBC MBA alum wins coveted Forty Under 40

Nucleus Research names Vancouver’s Visier as a Hot Company to Watch in 2021

In case you are living under a rock

Vancouverite Stewart Butterfield’s Slack sold to Salesforce for US$27.7b


Video Q&A: Julie Angus, Women of the Year 2020 winner – Innovator

Trulioo Parody Video Implores ‘Don’t Stop Verifying’ Online Identities

Get to work

These Vancouver companies are currently hiring in December


Hootsuite promoted Tara Ataya, previously the company’s VP of people, to serve as chief people and diversity officer

Insiders are buying up shares of BBTV

New B.C. minister aims to secure ‘fair share’ of federal innovation funding

TELUS L-Spark has revealed the eight startups participating in its new medical technology accelerator program 

Ideas and opinions

Jonathon Narvey, CEO of Mind Meld PR, writing on the New Ventures BC blog: How Ventures Can Get Reporters to Tell Their Story

Greg Smith, CEO of Thinkific, writing at Fast Company: 4 unexpected ways to turn imposter syndrome into an advantage

Boris Wertz, founder and partner at Version One Ventures, writing on his firm’s blog: The pros and cons of “digital by default”

Ryan Holmes, founder and chairman of Hootsuite, writing on The Helm: I Asked 1.7 Million People About Remote Work. Here’s What They Said

Tech writer Kate Wilson and Dan Burgar, co-founder at Shape Immersive, writing in TechCrunch: Despite limitations, 3D and AR are creating new realities in retail

Kirk LaPointe, publisher and editor of Business in Vancouver, writing in his publication: 10 ways Vancouver city hall can help small business survive the pandemic

George Psiharis, COO of Clio, writing on Techcouver: Silicon Valley May Not be King for Much Longer

Matt Toner, co-founder of Shred Capital, writing at Georgia Straight: Matt Toner: It will take capital to move the needle on climate change 

Ray Walia, CEO of Launch Ventures, writing at Forbes: The Importance Of Reeducation In Sparking Economic Recovery

Christina Ng, marketing coordinator at Foodee, writing on her company’s blog: 5 Ways Companies Are Safely Bringing Food Into The Office

Mark Longo, partner, emerging and high growth companies at Osler, and Tara Folk, an associate, writing on their firm’s blog: Canadian technology sector M&A activity accelerates into 2021

Jeff Booth, technology entrepreneur, writing on LinkedIn: Monopoly IRL Is No Game: My Second Statement At the House Of Commons


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Times change.