H|T: The Healthtech Times – AbCellera plays the long game despite losses

Plus: The BC telemedicine company that was allegedly a “pump and dump.”

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Despite billion-dollar pandemic boost, AbCellera still seeks ‘escape velocity’

When AbCellera posted a nearly US$150-million annual loss at the end of 2023, it was an abrupt turn for a company seen as the lodestar of Vancouver’s biotech startup scene. For the previous two years, it had been awash in royalties from two COVID-19 therapies it co-developed in the midst of the pandemic.

Yet despite the bleak earnings news and a languishing stock price, [CEO Carl] Hansen seems unfazed. Biotech is a long game, he noted, and companies that reach “escape velocity” – a tech metaphor Hansen often reaches for to describe an elite class of firms able to fuel their own growth through product development – take decades to do so.

(The Logic)

Well Health acquires 10 primary care medical clinics from Shoppers Drug Mart

Vancouver-based digital healthcare company Well Health Technologies has acquired 10 primary-care medical clinics across British Columbia (BC) and Ontario from Loblaw-owned Shoppers Drug Mart.

The banner is made up of 35 physicians across four clinics in BC and six clinics in Ontario, according to Well Health, and will be rebranded under the Well Clinic name.

Well Health said it expects the new clinics to add approximately $8 million in annual revenue, and will look to staff them with more physicians. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


How accused ‘pump and dump’ perpetrators allegedly controlled a B.C. telemedicine company

A Vancouver man thought he was making a savvy investment in a telemedicine company.

Securities regulators now believe he was a victim of a “pump and dump” scheme that netted its masterminds millions while leaving investors out in the cold.

(Investigative Journalism Foundation)

What’s in #Budget2024 for Canadian tech?

The federal government published its 2024 budget this past week and the reaction from Canadian tech was immediate and loud.

Ottawa unveiled new measures on open banking, including an updated timeline on real-time payment rails and new funding allocations to FCAC and the Department of Finance, but FinTech leaders say “the devil is in the details.”

Following calls from Canadian business leaders, Budget 2024 also announced the government’s plan to establish a working group led by former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz aimed at encouraging Canada’s pension funds to make more investments in Canada.

But the biggest reaction came in response to proposed changes to the capital gains tax, which would lift the inclusion rate businesses pay on capital gains from 50 percent to 66.7 percent. Hundreds of Canadian tech leaders signed an open letter calling on Ottawa to claw back the changes, while others said they believe the reaction is a distraction and “hysteria.”

Still haven’t taken a look at #Budget2024?

BetaKit’s roundup has everything you need to know.

Pharmacists at Shoppers file proposed lawsuit against Loblaw, alleging unethical corporate practices

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the company and parent Loblaw Cos. Ltd., alleging the drugstore chain breached their franchise agreements with unethical corporate practices, including putting pressure on franchise holders to bill the health care system for unnecessary services.

The class action alleges the corporate practices imposed by Shoppers Drug Mart are “unsafe” and “unethical” and compromise a pharmacist’s ability to “deliver safe and effective patient care.”

(The Globe and Mail)

DMZ receives $500,000 grant to expand Basecamp program for student entrepreneurs

DMZ has received $500,000 CAD from the Embark Student Foundation’s Major Grant Program to expand its student-focused entrepreneurship programming.

The Toronto-based incubator specifically plans to expand Basecamp, its hybrid summer entrepreneurship program that helps students turn their ideas into tech solutions for social or economic challenges.


Teladoc became a household name under Jason Gorevic. Investors wanted more

Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic dismissed the growing chorus of naysayers, expressing confidence in his company’s trajectory and asserting, “I think that we are probably still underappreciated with respect to our market advantage, the financial performance that we’ve demonstrated, as well as the bright outlook we have in terms of our growth potential going forward.”

Barely three months later, Teladoc announced that Gorevic, the charismatic face of the company for 15 years, was gone, leaving the telehealth pioneer scrambling to appease investors.

In an examination by STAT, analysts and officials who worked with Gorevic said the departure follows a series of missed financial projections, a precipitous decline in Teladoc’s stock price, and an uninspired vision for its future.


As tech talent crunch persists, Indeed’s Iain Hamilton on how companies can fill seats faster

Recent data from Indeed found that as of the end of January, 27 percent of tech jobs in Canada remained open for 60 days or more.

To Indeed’s VP of software engineering Iain Hamilton, it’s an intriguing time in the tech industry.

Despite a less favourable economy, the thirst for tech talent hasn’t waned. In fact, Hamilton said the economic landscape has resulted in fewer individuals actively seeking new opportunities, leading to a tight talent pool, and challenges for businesses looking to fill roles.


What Does the FTC’s $7M Fine Against Cerebral Mean for the Industry?

This week, the Federal Trade Commission hit virtual mental health startup Cerebral with a $7 million fine, accusing the company of mishandling users’ sensitive health data and misleading consumers about cancellation policies.

Cerebral agreed to pay the fine, as well as adhere to a “first-of-its-kind prohibition” that bans the startup from using any health data “for most advertising purposes.”


What Alberta Innovates learned from sending 50 local startups to SXSW

Last month, Alberta Innovates sent a delegation of 50 local tech startups to the conference. This wasn’t the delegation’s inaugural trip; an initial foray in 2023 catalyzed millions of dollars in deals for the startups involved.

According to Tim Murphy, vice president of Alberta Innovates’ health division, the crown corporation had a clear objective going into this year’s conference.

Murphy, who joined the Alberta delegation this year, sat down with BetaKit to talk about Alberta Innovates’ strategy for the 2024 SXSW delegation, how the experience went, and the impact it’s hoped to create for the province’s tech sector.


Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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