Investor conference for B.C. life sciences sector draws record turnout

The LifeSciences BC Investor Summit attracted a record turnout on November 6, according to organizers | Photo: Tyler Orton

What happened: A record number of attendees and presenters hit the annual LifeSciences BC Investor Summit in Vancouver

Why it matters: There’s a strong demand for capital on the West Coast among early stage companies looking to grow

Gamblers at downtown Vancouver’s Parq Casino weren’t the only ones looking for a jackpot on Wednesday (November 6).

A few floors above the flashing slot machines and green-felt tables, investors and business development scouts from the U.S., Europe and Asia were inside a Marriott hotel ballroom scoping out local early-stage companies at the annual LifeSciences BC Investor Summit.

Life Sciences BC president and CEO Wendy Hurlburt told Business in Vancouver this latest summit was a record year, drawing 200 attendees and attracting 85 applications from companies wishing to present to investors.

Thirty companies eventually made the cut, but organizers usually field applications from 30-35 companies any given year.

“That’s also an indication of the great innovation that’s emerging and standing within that marketplace,” Hurlburt said, adding demand for investment is growing in the province’s life sciences sector.

“What’s great is we have a lot of familiar investors in the room that are taking a lot of notes and taking the opportunity to connect with those that have presented.”

At least one investor, she said, was prepared to take a closer look at some of the companies they had seen present before because of how far the companies have come since then.

“While an investor may not be ready to invest today, they might watch them and monitor them over the next little while,” Hurlburt said.

“All of the investors who are here are pretty open to offering feedback to those who’ve presented.”

Presentations kicked off in the morning with Agartee Technology Inc. CEO Behzad Behrooza recounting how his grandfather passed away after forgetting to take his medication.

Behrooza’s company has developed hardware and software that monitors users’ health and provide doctors with better data and analytics.

“I’m increasingly enthusiastic about the life sciences sector here in British Columbia and its potential,” B.C. Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston said during the morning keynote.

“Future growth, not only for British Columbia as a province, but for other parts of the world rely on the ability to attract investments to transform opportunity into success. Without capital, your forward progress is inhibited.”