This BC biotech facility will be the first of its kind in Canada | The Sunday Briefing

"Why would Vancouver not be the place where you build a new kind of company that is bringing together these technologies... and helping the industry at scale?" asks AbCellera CEO Dr. Carl Hansen.

Good morning and happy weekend. I hope you all have air conditioning. Because friends, our new Instagram account (@vantechjournal) is going to be sooo hot—and you should definitely follow it right now… And yes, it’s also like, a million degrees out. So, seriously, find a way to stay cool folks.

Welcome to our new subscribers. I invite you to stay connected all week with us, not just on Insta, but also on TwitterLinkedIn and in the 1,300-member Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse app. Skip the Clubhouse line and RSVP to our next show with this specific link.

In this week’s Briefing, I’m excited to highlight the BC company building the future of Canada’s biotech industry, the international economics expert hired to save BC’s economy, and the sneaker community startup that fetched $15.5 million in funding, among 22 other stories.

By the way, today’s Briefing is 1,745 words, a 6-minute read. Enjoy!

- William (@notionport)


🏢 Top story: AbCellera building the future of Canadian biotech in BC

Two months after breaking ground on its new Vancouver headquarters, BC biotech giant AbCellera announced that it’s building a 130,000-square-foot Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturing facility for the production of therapeutic antibodies, a first of its kind in Canada.

Corporate development VP Murray McCutcheon called the news an important milestone and said the facility will help accelerate his company’s programs, as well as reduce risk in the process. “It's going to enable us to make the antibody therapies that we're already discovering, and help us bridge the gap that occurs now in drug development, and help us hold the hands of our partners further along the drug discovery and development pipeline,” he said. ➝ Get the full story.

Bonus: A Twitter thread on what AbCellera CEO Dr. Carl Hansen said when we asked him about his reason for growing his company in Vancouver. 👇🏽


An international innovation expert touches down (virtually) in BC

The BC government has secured the services of Professor Mariana Mazzucato, an international expert on innovation and economics, to help shape the province’s economic growth plan.

The province said Mazzucato will help align public-sector capabilities, financing mechanisms and citizen engagement with a “mission-oriented innovation strategy for building an inclusive and sustainable economy.” Her background appears to mesh well with the “triple-bottom-line” mandate of InBC, the province’s recently announced $500 million Strategic Investment Fund

As to why the government hired an expert from across the pond to contribute to what is supposed to be a plan built on local citizen feedback and engagement, Minister Ravi Kahlon said, “The recovery plan for BC will be built by BC for BC. But it's important to note that we are competing with the world.” ➝ Get the full story.


Vancouver Tech Journal spoke with a number of experts about their thoughts on the biggest cybersecurity threats and trends for 2021.

“Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on software we expect to be engineered like bridges, but are more often than not hacked together like my childhood treehouse,” warned one expert. ➝ Read more of what they had to say.


Introducing #Shipped, a new semi-regular column that will briefly round up the latest product innovation news in the ecosystem.

Read the first edition featuring new products from Hootsuite, Wishpond and CloudAdvisors. Just shipped something? Tell us at william@vantechjournal.com


⏩ Quick takes.


💵 Funding and deals.

Just two months after raising a $2.5 million seed round, Vancouver sneaker community startup SoleSavy raised $15.5 million in Series A funding from a slate of investors including Shopify's president, Dapper Labs' CEO and Diplo.

Sneaker culture has grown dramatically in recent years and is expected to reach $30 billion by 2030. This growth has been matched by an increase in bots, fraud, market manipulation and unfair practices that have negatively impacted consumers. With this funding, SoleSavy hopes to invest in and harness technology to improve the sneaker market experience for consumers. ➝ Get the full story.


Motive.io, a Vancouver-based immersive training platform for enterprise clients, secured seed capital in a round led by Toronto-based venture capital firm N49P.

Several Vancouver-based angel investors also participated in the round. The company said it would use the funds to invest in its engineering, sales, and customer success teams to augment its product for a growing roster of Fortune 500 customers. ➝ Get the full story.


Semantic Health Inc., a health tech startup with employees in Toronto and Vancouver, emerged from stealth with $3.3 million in seed funding.

The round was led by DCVC with involvement from Preface Ventures, Liquid 2, RiSC Capital, Wayfinder VC and others. The startup's product is meant to harness artificial intelligence (AI) to automate manually done tasks and help hospitals unlock value from unstructured data. ➝ Get the full story.


Vancouver’s Semios, a growing agtech company, announced the acquisition of Wenatchee, Washington-based Centricity, a company specializing in data collection for agriculture. 

On June 8, Vancouver Tech Journal reported that Semios’ acquisition of Altrac—a Californian agriculture automation platform—was part of a larger plan. We were told then that the company had more deals on the horizon. Centricity is the next to come into view. ➝ Get the full story.


Vancouver-based Trait Biosciences Inc. raised $31 million through a Series A financing round led by the corporate venturing unit of British American Tobacco, Btomorrow Ventures, and backed by Gotham Green Partners.

The company said the money will be used to support its research and development activities in relation to the commercialization of its proprietary 2XGLY Water Soluble Cannabinoid technology.


🗞️ You should also know that…

BC’s Carbon Engineering is one of two firms that have “begun designing what could become Europe’s largest direct-air-capture plant, capable of capturing as much as a million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year and burying it deep beneath the floor of the North Sea.”

From the MIT Technology Review:

We can’t stop every [source of] emissions,” says Steve Oldham, chief executive of Carbon Engineering, which is based in British Columbia. “It’s too difficult, too expensive, and too disruptive. That’s where carbon removal comes in. We’re seeing an increasing realization that it’s going to be essential.


Leaders in BC’s tech industry are working to increase diversity through various initiatives and funding.

For example, in an effort to bolster this type of work, Nextech AR executive Vivian Chan interviewed 20 vice-presidents and C-suite Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) leaders about barriers facing increased representation within the BC tech sector. Her goal is to increase gender parity and diverse representation on boards and in management.


Through the Start-up Crowdfunding Registration and Prospectus Exemptions, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CAS) has increased the amount crowdfunding issuers are permitted to raise per year from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

These new rules will come into effect on September 21 and will impact Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.


🏆 Accolades


💡 Ideas and insights.

Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO of Victory Square Technologies, argues ‘Canada’s Tech Scene Is Having A Moment: Pay Attention.’

“The first quarter of 2021 saw record investment of venture capital into Canadian companies, with CAD $2.7 billion (USD $2.2 billion) in new VC investments across 178 deals. Investors in the United States and around the world are taking note. And here’s the thing: while recent Canadian valuations may be turning heads, it is just the beginning,” he writes.


Terramera CEO Karn Manhas shares ‘Why We Need An Operation Warp Speed For Agriculture.’

“We have an opportunity for an agricultural system that replenishes the Earth while also feeding our communities. Now we just have to start believing it's possible,” he writes.


Vanedge Capital investor Annika Lewis shares insights on Snowflake and Databricks, two of the world’s hottest data companies, and how they are “looking more and more similar to one another, with increasingly overlapping offerings and ambitions.”

“The stage is being set for quite the competitive dynamic, one that is reminiscent of previous-gen enterprise giants SAP & Oracle,” she writes.


👔 People going places.


🎧 A/V: Watch & Listen


📅 Upcoming events.


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