After Repare IPO success, Amplitude goes all in on Canadian life sciences sector with CA$200M fund

Amplitude Venture Capital constructed a solid track record over the past year and a half, helping lay the groundwork for Repare Therapeutics to go public, and, now, the Canadian investment firm is doubling down. 

Amplitude closed its oversubscribed $200 million Canadian dollars ($163 million) precision medicine fund Thursday to continue investing in the Canadian life sciences sector, a space that made a big splash last year with three of the largest biotech IPOs in the country’s history. The Royal Bank of Canada, Alberta Enterprise Corporation and Alexandria Venture Investments joined the fund’s 37 limited partners as part of the close.

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Amplitude has deployed part of the fund toward 10 companies already, some of which will be disclosed in the coming weeks. Early investments have gone toward Repare, Deep Genomics and Notch Therapeutics as well as two companies created by Amplitude: Giiant Pharma and Radiant Biotherapeutics, which has attracted former Galera Therapeutics Chief Business Officer Art Fratamico as CEO.

The fund represents the “largest debut in Canadian life sciences history," Partner Dion Madsen told Fierce Biotech. He and partner Jean-François Pariseau launched the fund in November 2019 after working on the healthcare investing team at BDC Capital. Amplitude had reached about 75% of its target last July.

With today’s close, Amplitude has the capital to fund another four to six companies, with the goal of raising them to the capital markets, Pariseau said. Three regions have attracted Amplitude so far: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Madsen said.

Vancouver and the Seattle corridor boast a thriving cellular and targeted therapy scene; Toronto and its American neighbors Minneapolis and Philadelphia provide strong opportunities in next-generation imaging and medical devices; and Montreal and southern partner Boston have built up a rich atmosphere for startups in artificial intelligence and machine learning, according to Madsen.

Amplitude’s fund is double the size of another large investment in the sector last month from CTI Life Sciences Fund, which raised CA$100 million ($81.6 million) in the first close of a third venture fund. BDC Capital contributed to the first close of both Amplitude’s and CTI’s funds. The Canadian government is also pouring large sums of resources into the science ecosystem with more than CA$635 million ($518 million) in investments disclosed Tuesday.

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“We’ve witnessed the recent growth of the Canadian life sciences sector and have been very impressed by both the quality of innovation and pace of venture creation happening nationwide,” said Alexandria Venture Investments' Conley Jones in a statement.

Another Canadian venture firm, Lumira Ventures, has said this growing industry in Canada is the result of years of work. Lumira received an additional CA$22.5 million ($18.3 million) for its fourth fund in February.

“We always believed in the potential of Canada’s life sciences ecosystem and in 2020 and early 2021 we have really seen the maturation and development of that ecosystem not just in terms of financings and preclinical and clinical development progress, but perhaps most importantly in terms of the approval and delivery of products and technologies with the potential to truly impact patient lives not just in Canada, but also around the world,” said Peter van der Velden, Lumira managing general partner, in a statement ahead of BIO Digital.