The recently concluded Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) Investment Summit 2024 brought forward the much-needed discussions around scalability, investment readiness and the overall landscape of the life sciences sector in Canada. A premier event, this year’s summit saw investors from all over the world, ecosystem partners amplifying and bolstering the life sciences sector, and Canadian companies with innovation that knows no bounds. Our Venture Growth Advisor, Dr. Martin Smith, participated with other top leaders in this industry and shares more about the latest trends, opportunities and challenges brought forward in this three-day summit.  

Focused on connecting global investors directly to some of Canada’s scaling MedTech and healthcare ventures, the Summit began with early morning pitches leading to 1:1 conversations with investors and investment meetings. Showcasing their companies at this global platform included TechAlliance’s stellar members – Vessl Prosthetics, an adjustable prosthetic socket innovator; Tenomix Inc., a venture innovating pathology; and FluidAI, a MedTech venture transforming post-operative care. Presenting a pre-vetted, high quality deal flow to prominent investors, the OBIO Investment Summit has helped companies raise $1.6B since 2018 and has given a platform for visibility to over 200 companies. With this edition of the summit, OBIO continued to replicate the same, also inviting Honorable Nina Tangri and Honorable Victor Fedeli to talk about upcoming investment opportunities, resources and the state of innovation and tech in the healthcare sector. With the announcement of revitalizing the Life Sciences Innovation Fund, Canada will see more small and medium sized businesses in this space, making moves from the conceptual to the commercialization phase.  

With the focal point of the Summit set around innovations in patient care and healthcare delivery, Dr. Smith observed that platform and digital health data technologies are going to be a big focus in the coming years. This has primarily been the case due to the changes in the way healthcare is now delivered since the pandemic. According to a recent study by Government of Canada on the Canadian Life Sciences industries, global trends also suggest that remote monitoring technology such as telehealth will take precedence simply due to its inherent convenience. Another trend that Dr. Smith witnessed was different applications and further advancement in the Magnetic Resonance Solutions (MRI) technologies – thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI).  

There is a healthy pipeline of MedTech companies looking for investment. The key here will be actually supporting their investment journeys by following up with investors and advocating for them.

Dr. Martin Smith, Venture Growth Advisor at TechAlliance

However, while trends, businesses and investors are hopeful, like every other coin, there is a flip side. “Some entrepreneurs struggle with the level of interest from Canadian investors. It’s possible that these discussions were in the early stages, or perhaps it reflects a cautious approach to investment currently taken by Canadian investors,” shares Dr. Smith. Persistent challenges in the MedTech, Life Sciences and healthcare sector include talent retention, and access to market barriers, but funding gaps was one missed opportunity that was constantly highlighted through conversations. Access to capital and the associated challenges/struggles with it comes as no surprise to us. This remains a critical factor for startups and early-stage companies looking to bring innovative healthcare solutions to commercialization. Afterall, fueling growth and innovation also relies on enhancing access to funding through venture capital, angel investors, and government grants. 
As the sector continues to evolve and innovate, TechAlliance aims to provide more opportunities of collaboration, investment, and advocacy for better regulatory support to drive sustainable growth and transform the future of healthcare delivery through innovation and tech.