Dr. Michael May, President and CEO, CCRM
Dr. Michael May, President and CEOOften heralded as the future of healthcare, regenerative medicine, including cell and gene therapies (CGTs), are widely pursued from an R&D standpoint, paving the way for breakthroughs.

Unfortunately, investors consider it high risk. As a result, many of these initiatives never see daylight, and their commercial potential is never fully unlocked.

This is where the Toronto Canada-based CCRM makes all the difference. The not-for-profit centre of excellence is a public-private partnership at the forefront of incubating, promoting, and investing in new companies in regenerative medicine and CGTs in the Canadian landscape.

Backed by more than ten years of industry experience, CCRM understands the cardinal value of linking the emerging gene/cell therapy initiatives with the right receptors. To this end, CCRM has developed academic, industry and investor networks that serve crucial roles.

“Focusing on stakeholder engagement, CCRM has embedded itself in the innovation ecosystem,” says Dr. Michael May, President and CEO of CCRM.

CCRM’s strategy for launching new ventures amalgamates their deep knowledge of cell/gene therapy with their strong network of academic and industry experts and investors. The organization identifies promising intellectual property through its academic consortium. In parallel, CCRM also supports its own early-stage concepts, bundles those together and evaluates them against market needs and potential. The centre then generates critical proof of concept to get go/no go decisions. It acts as an investor and encourages other investors, including venture capitalists, to fund these ventures.

CCRM sources inventions and intellectual property from academic institutions and then de-risks them, facilitating outside investors to better support such endeavors.

CCRM: A Premier Incubator of CGT Companies

This enhances the quality and quantity of the deal flow in the ecosystem and helps accelerate investment in emerging biotech companies.

Not stopping there, CCRM helps incubated companies scale their products for clinical trials and future commercial-scale manufacturing processes. For its portfolio companies and external customers, CCRM delivers contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) services in a fee-for-service modality. “We have a Good Manufacturing Practices [GMP]- compliant facility to manufacture cells and viral vectors for phase one and two clinical trials,” says Stacey Johnson, Director Communications and Marketing at CCRM. Such multi-pronged capabilities translate promising therapies, procedures, and related technologies to life-changing health outcomes for patients.

Our journey of over ten years has resulted in an incredible expansion of our global reach, helping build Canada’s reputation as a global leader in cell/gene therapy

Notch Therapeutics is one such company that CCRM supported from conception to launch. This startup develops off-the-shelf T cell therapies from renewable stem cell sources for immune cell therapy. The technology for Notch was sourced from academic consortium members University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Research Institute. CCRM carried out critical proof of concept for manufacturing in house, in partnership with the principal investigators of the technology. CCRM incubated the technology and, along with Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP) and investors like Lumira Ventures, supported its launch. It was one of the largest Series A investments in the Canadian biotech landscape. CCRM envisions Notch Therapeutics as a robust commercial partner for future manufacturing endeavors.

Also enabling CCRM to incubate winning biotech startups is their dedicated workforce of more than 200 scientists and engineers and a highly tech-savvy business development team. This allows CCRM to cater to every manufacturing/technology development need. Taking the next big leap in their CDMO business, the CCRM recently spun out a new, for-profit called OmniaBio Inc. to provide commercial-scale manufacturing for the startups incubated by CCRM, and therapy developers around the world looking for a CDMO partner.

With more than 90-percent funding from the Government of Canada at its launch in 2011, CCRM now receives less than 10 percent from federal funding. This has occurred through a 50-percent growth rate over a decade. “Our journey of over ten years has resulted in an incredible expansion of our global reach, helping build Canada’s reputation as a global leader in cell/gene therapy,” concludes Dr. May.