Despite the COVID-19 crisis and economic instability, it’s time to talk about exports, according to the Sherbrooke Innopole’s Executive Director, Josée Fortin.
That’s what some 100 entrepreneurs will be doing on April 24 at the Times Hotel during the Grand rendez-vous de l’exportation, organized by Carrefour Québec International in collaboration with Sherbrooke Innopole. About a hundred participants are expected.
For Ms. Fortin, it is when a company exports to only one country that a danger arises. “If the country or the continent is hit, the company is necessarily hit as well. If you have a diversification of places where you export, it can compensate for the risks you face,” she says.
If a company only does business in Asia, it is not in a good situation,” she says. However, if it’s in Asia, Europe, North America and maybe even South America, then we can compensate for that. It makes the company less vulnerable. It is like a financial portfolio. »
The Executive Director of Carrefour Québec International, Catherine Gervais, had the same speech. Exports are still relevant and important,” she says. What’s important is market diversification and it’s our mandate to help companies see the opportunities. It’s not just the United States. There are other interesting markets. You just have to adapt your strategy according to the market that will pay off. Every company has its own recipe: just because a competitor is in a market doesn’t mean you have to go there as well. »
Etienne Lemieux, CEO and co-founder of the company Spi Bio, who continuously monitors Legionella Pneumophila in water systems, sees the current situation as a double-edged sword. “There is market uncertainty, so my customers may be less willing to buy,” thinks the entrepreneur, who is currently in the process of selling to New York customers.
“But it confirms that people see a high importance on public health, he relativizes. In 2015, in a single event, legionella sent more than 100 people to hospital and killed 12. Like the Coronavirus, that’s cause for concern. We’re in the same engine: people are afraid, homeowners are afraid of the economic impact it represents and are taking preventive measures. This confirms to me that people are ready to invest in making cities safer, to put measures in place to prevent epidemics. »
For Mr. Lemieux, the experience of exporting can be frightening. It is to combat this fear that the entrepreneur will address the participants of the Grand rendez-vous de l’exportation.
We are often afraid,” admits Mr. Lemieux, who will be attending the event as a guest speaker. We put a lot of energy into finding clients, but it’s because we’re afraid to go into the export business. We have to fight that fear, because if you want to develop a large business, to go from a small business to something bigger, you have to go to your neighbour. »
The employer would like to go from 17 employees to a few hundred.
“The export process is less and less scary. [Now] it makes sense to me. A year ago, it didn’t make sense because there was too much uncertainty,” he says.
Entrepreneurs will be coming to share their marketing experience in different markets, Gervais says. “Concrete results are the networking that takes place, she believes, recalling that this is the third edition of this event. Companies will come out inspired and will network. »
We’re here to explain the customs process or just to find the right market,” she says. For those who are well established in Quebec and looking to grow, the most important thing is to make an action plan. »
SPI Bio, a young biotechnology company based in Sherbrooke, announced Monday the closing of a new round of financing of $1.7 million.
The funds come from local and international investors such as Sherbrooke Innopole, Natural Products Canada, ACET National Bank and Capitall Investments.
SPI Bio has developed a device for the automatic detection of legionella bacteria in industrial, commercial and residential cooling systems.
This patented technology, called BioAlert, includes a biochemical analysis compartment and a data management system that allows daily testing and results to be obtained in less than three hours.
BioAlert simplifies the testing process by eliminating the need for manual sampling and shipping of samples to the laboratory, which can take up to two weeks to provide data.
This system does not replace the monthly tests required by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, but it does make it possible to predict the results that will come back from the laboratories in order to avoid any consequences associated with a bad analysis.
SPI Bio therefore believes that this connected solution helps to better manage microbiological risk and reduce the costs and impact of a potential legionella outbreak.
With more than 25,000 hospitalizations and nearly 4,000 deaths each year in North America, these bacteria are a major public health issue.
The capital raised should enable SPI Bio to accelerate the commercialization of the device. The company hopes to increase its production capacity and develop its distribution network to eventually break into the US and European markets.
SPI Bio also intends to prioritise the industrial, hospital and tourism sectors in 2020.
To deploy its commercial strategy, the company plans to hire five new resources for its administration, production and sales departments.
The team currently consists of 17 employees, all based at the Espace LABz multi-tenant centre in the Sherbrooke Science Park. SPI Bio assembles BioAlert devices on site.
“With this financing, we will have the opportunity to move more quickly towards achieving our corporate objectives. These funds will enable us to move from a start-up to a well-established SME, for which we are more than grateful,” said Étienne Lemieux, co-founder and CEO of SPI Bio, in a press release.
SHERBROOKE, Québec, Canada, December 4, 2019 – SPI Bio, a young Sherbrooke biotechnology company that has developed a device for automatically detecting Legionella bacteria, announced the completion of a round of financing that raised $1.7M thanks to the participation of Capitall Investissements, Natural Products Canada, Sherbrooke Innopole, ACET Banque Nationale and other private investors.
The funds raised will allow SPI Bio speed up the marketing development of its flagship product, BioAlert, the first and only integrated automatic detector in the world designed to continuously perform direct monitoring for the Legionella bacteria in industrial, commercial and residential cooling systems, commonly known as cooling towers.
“We were really pleased to see that so many people believe in the potential of SPI Bio. With this financing, we will be able to move more quickly towards attaining our business objectives. These funds will allow SPI Bio to move beyond the start-up phase and become a true small to medium-sized business with a firm footing in its area and we are more than thankful”, affirmed Étienne Lemieux, cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of SPI Bio.
Capitall Investissements is a fund operating in Montréal and created by specialized attorneys and seasoned entrepreneurs based in the Brittany region of France. It is their first investment in a Québec business project, in partnership with Sherbrooke Innopole.
“This is a strategic investment for the Brittany based group Capitall Investissements, which is putting up $750 000 in financing for the Québec start-up SPI Bio, a company that is destined to take on the world with its innovative concept for detecting Legionella bacteria”, highlighted Frédéric Burot, associate attorney with STRATEYS and representative for Capitall Investissements.
“We have quickly built strong business relationships with Capitall Investissements and its representative Frédéric Burot after our first meeting in January of 2018”, related Josée Fortin, Executive Director of Sherbrooke Innopole. “Right from the start, the group demonstrated a keen interest in investing in local area technology businesses, so much so that only 20 months later, we are tremendously proud to be finalizing this first joint investment in a business with great potential, SPI Bio. This young business, operating in the key Cleantech sector, has the technology, the talent and the ambition to make its mark on the global market. Sherbrooke Innopole is proud to offer its support and financing, through its innovative business investment fund – Fonds d’investissement pour entreprises innovantes.”
Over the course of the last year, the partnership between Sherbrooke Innopole and the group of French investors has also resulted in the establishment of a mentorship programme for setting up technology businesses in North America, whether they are in the start-up phase or already well established. Offered in collaboration with the private entrepreneurship office LEDEN, this programme helps foreign businesses to evaluate and begin their expansion at competitive costs. “Of course, a reciprocal service is offered to Sherbrooke businesses wanting to explore the European market”, highlighted Ms. Fortin.
“It’s encouraging to see a highly innovative Canadian company like SPI Bio solving a critical health and safety issue,” said Shelley King, CEO of Natural Products Canada. “We are thrilled to be a part of the ecosystem supporting them in their development and growth.”
“ACET, who has been mentoring SPI Bio for almost six years now, is quite pleased to be a co-investor, through their ACET Capital S.E.C. fund, in a business that is young and dynamic just like its founders and employees. Their high-tech product, BioAlert, has generated a lot of interest in the marketplace. We are convinced that SPI Bio is looking at a very bright future”, affirmed Ghyslain Goulet, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACET Banque Nationale.
Marketing development phase
This round of financing will allow SPI Bio to structure their marketing development channels, increase their production capacity and deploy validation showcases across North America in order to continue documenting the advantages of its patented technology.
Recall that SPI Bio benefitted from Sherbrooke Innopole’s commercialization support programme VITE (Validation d’innovation technologique à l’essai) in 2018. The Sherbrooke business was at the time able to have a technology showcase at the Palais des sports Léopold-Drolet, in partnership with the City of Sherbrooke.
For 2020, SPI Bio will prioritize developing the industrial, hospital and tourism sectors, in Québec and Ontario among others. The company will also work to develop its distribution network, with a view to making inroads into the American and European markets in the future.
In order to implement its business strategy, SPI Bio foresees hiring five new employees, who in the short term will be assigned to the sales, production, and administration departments. Currently they have 17 highly qualified employees, all based at the multitenant science building Espace LABz, in Sherbrooke’s Parc scientifique. At that location, SPI Bio assembles the BioAlert devices, as well as the associated analysis cartridges.
The BioAlert device consists of a self-loading biochemical analysis compartment as well as a data management and communication system which allows it to conduct daily tests and provide the results in less than three hours. The device makes the analysis process easier by eliminating the need for manual sampling and expediting those samples to a laboratory, which may take up to 14 days before getting the results. While the BioAlert device does not replace the monthly tests required by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, it does allow users to foresee what the official laboratory results will be and take timely action in order to avoid any fallout of a failed test.
Thus, SPI Bio’s innovative and connected solution allows for better management of biological risks at reduced cost, as well as managing or reducing the consequences associated with a potential Legionella outbreak. Legionella bacteria are a serious public health issue, causing over 25 000 hospitalizations and nearly 4000 deaths each year in North America.
About SPI Bio
Created in 2014, SPI Bio launched its first pilot project in the fall of 2017 in order to validate the BioAlert technology under real usage conditions. The benefits of the technology were quickly recognized by their industrial and financial partners, thus equipping the company with the necessary resources for quickly bringing the product to market. Currently, SPI Bio has a multidisciplinary team combining biotechnology and engineering experts, as well as sales and marketing specialists. spibio.ca
About Capitall Investissements
Capitall is a successful French individual and family fund for entrepreneurs, among which some have become leaders in their field of activity. More specifically, our fund allows us to act as a strategic and financial partner with start-ups as well as small or medium-sized businesses to contribute to accelerate their development on the international level. We have a value-added creative vision and a smart money approach to business. Capitall Investissements has a double objective. On the one hand, we aim to facilitate access to venture capital to innovative Canadian businesses in the technology sector at the prestart and premarketing phases, then to mentor and coach them in setting up shop abroad, more precisely in France, thus allowing them to benefit from the strength of our networks and experience, and have a quick and efficient access to European markets. On the other hand, we aim to foster the attraction of and support to French businesses in Canada, more precisely in Québec, following the same active involvement logic.
About Natural Products Canada
Natural Products Canada (NPC) is the driving force behind Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster–a strategic community of SMEs, research institutes, corporations, investors, government departments, and service providers who support the development and commercialization of naturally-derived products and technologies in health and life sciences, natural resources, agriculture and agri-food, and sustainable bioproducts. As part of its role in the Cluster, NPC offers a suite of Commercialization Programs to help companies and researchers advance high-potential products and technologies; provides connection and innovation scouting services to industry and investors through its Innovation Hub; and leverages its Investment Fund to help develop and de-risk promising Canadian opportunities. NPC has over 500 opportunities in its pipeline, has completed seven investments, and has already experienced two exits. Established in 2016, NPC is funded by a range of public and private investors, including the Government of Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR) program, administered by the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Visit www.naturalproductscanada.com.
About Sherbrooke Innopole
Sherbrooke Innopole is Sherbrooke’s economic development arm whose mission is to accelerate the development of businesses in five key sectors – Advanced Manufacturing, Cleantech, Information Technologies, Life Sciences and Micro-nanotechnologies – and to work to make Sherbrooke an attractive and innovative business environment.
About ACET Banque Nationale
Over the years, ACET has garnered a solid reputation and firsthand expertise in the start-up and development of technology businesses, most of which have arisen from research by students and professors at the Université de Sherbrooke. Since its creation in 2011, ACET has supported 90 business ventures in various technology sectors and those projects have generated more than 400 jobs. For more information about ACET and its unique support model, check out acet.ca.
Article found here: https://www.naturalproductscanada.com/en/spi-bio/