H|T: The Healthtech Times – Canada’s latest big biotech exit

Plus: Google Lens can now search for skin conditions.

The Healthtech Times is a weekly newsletter covering healthtech news from Canada and around the globe.

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Synthetic biology startup Ardra is brewing up big plans with its fermentation technology (BETAKIT)

Ardra Bio, a fermentation startup working to develop ingredients for the natural flavours, perfume, and cosmetics industries by fermenting natural sugars, found itself in trouble at the end of last year.

Its manufacturing partner had gone bust, the backup manufacturer was slowed by a COVID-19 wave, and the venture market looked to be in downturn.

How is Ardra still navigating all this while staying optimistic?

Novartis buys Chinook for US$3.2-billion, latest in string of big exits for Canadian biotechs (THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Canada’s biotechnology sector produced its latest blockbuster exit Monday as Novartis AG agreed to buy rare kidney disease drug developer Chinook Therapeutics, Inc. for up to US$3.5-billion.

The deal for the four-year old biotech startup, which has operations in Vancouver and Seattle and is domiciled in the latter, is one of the biggest acquisitions to date in Canada’s life sciences sector.


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Water sampling, agtech startups among Ontario Genomics’ first cohort for BioCreate program (BETAKIT)

Ontario Genomics, a research organization funded by the provincial and federal governments, has unveiled the eight startups taking part in the first cohort of its BioCreate program.

Each startup will receive $150,000 from Ontario Genomics and go through 18 months of mentorship and gain access to infrastructure for their technology and business development.

Oracle Q4 revenue up 18%, boosted by Cerner acquisition and strength in cloud businesses (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Cerner brought in $1.5 billion in revenue in the latest quarter, boosting strong growth for enterprise software giant Oracle. The health IT company also generated $5.9 billion in revenue for Oracle's 2023 fiscal year, which ended May 31.

Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison told analysts and investors that he expects the company to continue making headway in healthcare with its applications and artificial intelligence capabilities.

Startup Train returns as Startupfest 2023 announces over $300,000 in prizes (BETAKIT)

Startupfest, a celebration of startups in Montréal, has announced the return of its train service, Startup Train, as well as over $300,000 in prizes.

Taking place from July 12 to July 14, Startupfest has revealed several major attractions this year, including investment prizes for startups and an express train for attendees to get to the event from the Toronto area.

Pandemic panic meant huge opportunity and a big mess for Maple (THE LOGIC)

Virtual health-care provider Maple was inundated with patients when COVID-19 hit, and has spent years since cleaning up after its sudden expansion.

CEO Brett Belchetz told The Logic the company made a big mistake in hiring rapidly and throwing bodies at problems that really called for better thinking and processes.

Collision whispers, new AI officer, fundraising landscape the talk of Vancouver Startup Week 2023 (BETAKIT)

Vancouver Startup Week (VSW) finally returned to its in-person format and featured whispers of new Canadian tech events and the advent of a Chief AI officer in Vancouver.

FDA’s letter to medical device maker iRhythm is a warning for the industry (STATNEWS)

The FDA has issued a stern letter to heart monitoring company iRhythm after it made changes to its hardware and to the algorithm it uses to detect cardiac abnormalities without running them by the FDA.

The letter highlights FDA’s growing scrutiny of digital health and patient monitoring tools — as well as the grave impacts even small device glitches can have on patients.

Applications are open for Google's startup accelerators for women and Black founders (BETAKIT)

Google has opened applications for its Black Founders and Women Founders startup accelerator programs.

According to Google, it will select twelve startups from across North America for each program, which are both three-month, virtual bootcamps. Participants will receive mentorship and technical project support, as well as attend workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development.

New test can detect multiple diseases in minutes using your saliva, McGill scientists say (TORONTO STAR)

A team of scientists from McGill University have created a device capable of automatically detecting several diseases in just 13 minutes using one’s saliva — a finding the authors say could prepare us for the next pandemic.

Rhino Ventures leads Twig Fertility’s $8 million Series A to improve fertility experience with tech (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based fertility clinic Twig Fertility aims to fill the gap in fertility care with its newly raised $8 million CAD Series A funding.

The funding will support its growth plans, including the development of its proprietary healthtech platform which will use personal health and demographic data to optimize each patient’s treatment plan and work toward their family-building goals.

Google Lens can now search for skin conditions (TECHCRUNCH)

Google’s enhancing Google Lens, its computer vision-powered app that brings up information related to the objects it identifies, with new features to identify skin conditions.

Uploading a picture or photo through Lens will kick off a search for visual matches, which will also work for other physical maladies that you might not be sure how to describe with words.

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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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