The procurement problem in Canadian healthtech

Plus: The latest stats on Q1 startup funding.

The BetaKit Town Hall provided Canadian tech with different vantage points on the current climate. This week, we dug deeper into those perspectives: check out what MedEssist’s Joella Almeida, Cohere’s Ivan Zhang, Transformer Lab’s Ali Asaria, and Socratica’s Jocelyne Murphy had to say. 

But BetaKit’s work shining spotlights on the ecosystem doesn’t stop when the event ends. Also this week, I spoke to Bronwyn Bridges, a young female founder who wants to help those living with Parkinson’s disease. Her company, PragmaClin, uses an algorithm to assess a patient’s symptoms through a camera, then generates a report for the doctor to review and finalize treatment options. We talked about her company and some of the issues she’s facing in this current climate.

Interestingly, like MedEssist’s Almeida, Bridges noted regulatory hurdles in Canada that cause procurement problems. Bridges has decided to skip past Health Canada, looking straight to the US to launch her tech first. Getting the “gold standard” of FDA approval will make it easier to get approval elsewhere, she said. 

Stories of Canadian healthtech companies going south of the border aren’t new. Almeida noted that Canadian healthcare is “federally procured but distributed provincially.” Ontario is allocating funds to healthtech procurement, as Josh Scott reported in March, which might be one way to keep homegrown companies here. But are provincial solutions to a national problem enough to sway founders from pursuing the gold standard? We want to know.

Thanks for reading on and ‘til next week, 

Bianca Bharti

Newsletter editor


Q1 Canadian VC funding posts mixed results as PE market rebounds, CVCA reports

Nearly $1.3 billion CAD in total VC financing was deployed into Canadian technology startups across 128 deals during Q1, per data collected by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA). Both declined relative to Q4 2023.

In terms of total dollars invested, this represented an eight percent increase relative to the first quarter of 2023, fuelled by financings from artificial intelligence startups like Ideogram, Spellbook, and Borderless AI, healthtech companies including PocketHealth and Flosonics Medical, FinTech firm Helcim, and last-mile delivery provider UniUni.

In a statement, CVCA CEO Kim Furlong noted that in Q1, investors continued to focus on “supporting resilient companies with demonstrated financials.”

(Read more)

Lightspeed stock jumps as Dax Dasilva stays put, posts positive Q4 earnings

Montréal-based Lightspeed Commerce saw its stock jump 15 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange at market open Thursday as it reported strong year-over-year revenue growth in the fourth quarter and announced founder Dax Dasilva would remain as its permanent CEO.

The point-of-sale and e-commerce software provider generated nearly $230.2 million USD in total revenue for the period ending March 31, 2024, a 25 percent year-over-year increase. Lightspeed also reported full-year revenue for the 2024 fiscal year grew 24 percent to $909.3 million USD.

“Fiscal 2024 was a milestone year for Lightspeed with the company exceeding our previously-established revenue outlook and achieving a full year of positive adjusted EBITDA for the first time,” CFO Asha Bakshani said in a statement.

(Read more)

ThinkLabs AI spins out of GE with $6.8 million CAD to simplify electrical grid management

Two years after selling his last cleantech company to General Electric, Toronto-based technology entrepreneur Josh Wong has spun his next one out of GE’s energy business, GE Vernova, and secured $6.8 million CAD ($5 million USD) in seed funding to fuel its launch.

With his latest startup, ThinkLabs AI, the Opus One Solutions and Toronto Hydro alum aims to help utility firms contend with an already complex electrical grid that is becoming even more unpredictable and challenging to manage amid the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

“My job is not done,” Wong told BetaKit in an interview. “I’m very mission-oriented and feel the grid remains at the centre of the energy transition. To decarbonize, we need to electrify. To electrify, we need the grid … [and] the grid really must modernize.”

(Read more)

Report: Canadian corporate venture capital funding is dismal compared to the United States

Canadian corporate venture capital (CVC) funds “punch below [their] weight” compared to their counterparts in the United States, according to a new report published Tuesday by Deloitte Ventures and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Of the 214 Canadian public companies that generated more than $1 billion in annual revenue, only six percent directly participated in a venture capital (VC) deal in 2023, the report stated. By comparison, that figure rises to 40 percent for equivalent US companies.

Canadian CVCs also mostly invest abroad, the report found.

“Canadian tech startups represent a very small percentage of the overall global startup ecosystem, which means that from a Canadian CVC perspective you need to have a global focus if you want to be on top of the latest technologies and products,” Deloitte Ventures managing partner Talia Abramowitz said in an email.

(Read more)

The best place to aim AI? The mirror

Zoho Canada recently hosted a webinar on the topic of generative AI in business intelligence and how the tool can be deployed to make organizations more data-driven.

The discussion offered four key insights for startups thinking about applying generative AI within their operations, and featured Matt Aslett, director of research, data, and analytics at Information Services Group’s Ventana Research, and Zoho Canada’s Chandrashekar Lalapet Srinivas Prasanna.

(Read more)

Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs

VAN – CloudMD to go private by CPS Capital
MOU – Gatik – $41M CAD
CGY – Bōde – $4M CAD
KWL – Nfinite Nanotech – $8.9M CAD
TOR – Baseline – $2.2M CAD
TOR – Diversio acquired by CCDI Consulting
MTL – Relocalize – $2.3M CAD
NYC – ThinkLabs AI – $6.8M CAD

The BetaKit Podcast

Gradient Ventures’ Darian Shirazi on where AI value will accrue

“I think that there are two types of investors right now. There are ones that are being thoughtful about it and steering clear of investments that could cause harm. And then there are some that are wading into them and don’t care at all.”

General partner Darian Shirazi joins to identify the AI moat, match the progress of AI with other tech eras, and differentiate Gradient Ventures from AI VCs who “don’t care at all.”

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Feature image courtesy Clay Banks via Unsplash.

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti is the newsletter editor at BetaKit, where she spearheads coverage and analysis of tech news in related products. Before BetaKit, Bianca covered the nexus of markets, industries and policy in a variety of formats as a reporter for the Financial Post. There, she won silver in SABEW's 2021 Best in Business Journalism Awards in the personal finance category for one of her pieces. In her free time, she enjoys swapping her reporter hat for a baseball cap to hit up some hiking trails with her dog. She also weirdly loves debating monetary policy.

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