This past year at KASTx Ventures has had many important opportunities and unique challenges for our organization, portfolio companies, and community members. Thank you to everyone who has followed along on our journey as we work to bring impactful innovations to the world. We truly feel this last year has set a strong foundation for us and our portfolio companies, and we are excited for what we have planned for the new year.
To celebrate the last year, we are reflecting on some key highlights, how they’ve shaped us as an organization, and how we’re going to continually raise the bar in the future.
Pure Life Carbon: Celebrating a $13M capital raise and gaining international attention
Like many of our portfolio companies thus far, Pure Life Carbon also experienced a year of exciting and accelerated growth. After deploying their sales team across North America, they started to drum up demand from commercial growers spanning the cannabis and indoor agriculture industries. This growing demand led to the purchase of their first manufacturing facility in Red Deer, AB. This soon-to-be 40,000 sqft facility has already started production processes with aims to expand its capacity in the new year.
This major accomplishment was largely due to the company’s successful fundraising efforts, securing $13 million after their first round of funding. The success of their fundraising and touring grabbed the attention of governments in eastern Canada, who have started negotiations to establish a second manufacturing facility for Pure Life Carbon. Further, the company received attention internationally by a commercial indoor agriculture company who trialed the company’s Charged Carbon product with huge success.
Pure Life Carbon spoke about these accomplishments at their first investor’s event hosted online, closing out the end of the year. The event kicked off their newest round of fundraising to help continue to expand the company, which will be carried into 2022. Contact Pure Life Carbon directly to learn more about how you can get involved.
Lumiio: Transforming into a Global Digital Health Platform
Lumiio celebrated their continued rapid growth over the last year by launching a new brand by starting the year as Dataffinity Health, and evolving into Lumiio, a global digital health company with projects in over 18 countries. In the last few years, the company has more than doubled in size and expanded its projects and global footprint. Following this major announcement, the University of Calgary picked up the news and highlighted Lumiio as an example of successful commercialization of Calgary-grown research and science:
“Lumiio has built collaborative data services across the world, with connections to several of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, patient organizations, and more than fifteen universities worldwide… Working on a global scale has its challenges from a regulatory, technology, and scientific standpoint. Lumiio is providing platforms and services to help health communities navigate these barriers and work towards their common purpose.” – UCalgary News
An important partnership was also announced by Lumiio with Mito Canada to build Canada’s first patient registry for mitochondrial disease. This will create a centralized data collection platform for patients with one of these diseases for the purposes of supporting research partnerships across Canada, advancing patient advocacy efforts, and attracting clinical trials for future drug development. The set of diseases characterized by mitochondrial disorder currently have no treatments, so this registry is fulfilling a much-needed gap for the mitochondrial disease community at large.
Finally, on a very exciting end note for the company, Lumiio announced they have achieved SOC2 Type 1 compliance. Achieving this milestone is a huge win for the digital and data-based company, demonstrating their best-in-class data security standards and measures. Over the course of 2022, the company will be monitored by SOC2 auditors to advance their report to full Type 2 compliance. Learn more about Lumiio.
AazeinTx: Making Headlines & Funding Announcements
After two exciting funding announcements coming out of the University of Calgary’s UCeed Program and the University of Alberta’s Campus Alberta Neuroscience, news of AazeinTx’s promising novel oral asthma treatment spread. The company was featured both by CTV News and UCalgary News, which detailed the revolutionary scientific discoveries behind the company’s treatment.
Soon after, the innovative medical team made the exciting announcement they signed a global exclusive agreement with adMare BioInnovations, giving AazeinTx all rights to the NEO6860 compound. The NEO6860 compound was identified by AazeinTx’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Richard Wilson as a key inhibitor of the TRPV-1 pathway, which has demonstrated promise to rapidly decrease bronchial constriction during an acute asthma attack. Having this licensing was the final step in rounding out the companies robust IP and licensing profile, setting them up for successful momentum forward.
This led to another exciting funding announcement as AazeinTx was named one of the winners of the prestigious NEXSTREAM 2.0 tech competition from the Campbell River Area Angel Group (CRAAG). Most notably they acknowledged the firm foundations the company had set over the year, which gave them confidence in backing the growing biotech:
“Not only do they have an incredible IP portfolio and plan to bring their drug through clinical trials, they also have unparalleled passion to solve the problem of asthma and several other diseases through the application of their experimental drug.” – CRAAG Announcement Release
Further exciting news came out around AazeinTx’s research when the scientists behind the discovery of the TRPV-1 pathway were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. This announcement demonstrates the significance of this pathway, and the discoveries of a wide range of treatments since it was originally identified. AazeinTx’s science is no exception, with Dr. Wilson’s discovery of the role it plays in inflammation during an acute asthma attack.
AazeinTx is moving in 2022 raising funds for phase 2a clinical trials. If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved, contact the company here.
Modelis: Fostering Important Partnerships
Modelis had an important year as the Quebec-based biotechnology company redefined its company vision to continue to establish itself as a platform for drug discovery. To kick off the new year, Modelis was selected for a year-long mentorship program under Amplitude Ventures after a successful pitch at the Effervescence Montreal conference. The mentorship is aimed at helping Modelis scale-up over the year-long commitment and provide support in their mission to accelerate the drug discovery process for rare diseases.
The company also formed a number of important partnerships with organizations dedicated to patient advocacy and research advancement for a given rare disease. Two of these organizations included the LCMD Research Foundation (LMNA-related congenital muscular dystrophy) and Enorev (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia). These partnerships with Modelis means the company will use their innovative platform to test thousands of pre-approved treatments to attempt to identify one that will prove effective against either rare disease. Moving into the new year, these partnerships will prove vital to the growth of Modelis’ reach and the impact of their novel science for patients globally.
Speaking of global, to round out the year, Modelis CEO James Doyle had the opportunity to present and attend the World Orphan Drug Congress Europe. This was exciting opportunity to connect in person with other rare-disease innovators across the world. Learn more about Modelis.
KASTx Ventures: Growing and Connecting Our Portfolio Companies
This last year has seen some exciting growth for KASTx Ventures and our team. We were able to expand from 5 team members at the end of 2020 to 13 team members by the end of the year. The growing needs of our portfolio companies challenged KASTx Ventures to bring experts together to overcome barriers and guide our companies towards success. We were able to share resources between companies so our organizations were able to split costs and access world-class advice.
Further, we celebrate Blaine Penny, who was initially hired as Director, Operations for KASTx Ventures and later transitioned to become full-time CEO of Lumiio after the organization underwent an international search for a CEO. The KASTx Ventures model utilizes our core team to support and fulfill the roles needed at each of our portfolio companies. Many of our core team members are still fulfilling necessary roles, working for both KASTx operationally and providing vital support for our founders and leaders.
We were also able to connect with the leading team at Catalytic Life Sciences to host our very first webinar discussing investing in early-stage biotechnology ventures. The event had a great turn out and provided an opportunity for KASTx to continue to grow our connections with other important partners in the life sciences space in Alberta and Canada at large.
KASTx Ventures also welcomed a new scientific founder into our growing roster of companies with Dr. Geoff Frost, the first ever Commercialization Fellow at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. Frost is a physiatrist (physical medicine and rehabilitation physician specialist) whose work focuses on the gamification of rehabilitation exercises for people with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). More on this company will come in the new year, including some exciting developments already in the works.
Be sure to follow us and keep up to date with all of our exciting plans for the new year! There may even be a couple of new companies that will be joining us as we continue to turn today’s best science into tomorrow’s best medicines. If you’re curious to learn more about who we are and what we do, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch with us through our website.