Zymeworks $85 Million IPO Puts Spotlight on Canada’s Biotech Sector

Hailed as Great Step Forward for Life Sciences Companies in Canada

Vancouver, June 1, 2017 — Vancouver-based biotech company Zymeworks has made a splash in both the US and Canada by raising $85 million in its initial public offering. The company – which rings the closing bell this week at the TSE and next week at the NYSE – is the first Canadian venture-backed initial public offering (IPO) in the life sciences sector since Xenon Pharmaceuticals went public in 2014.

“We intend to advance the development of disruptive therapeutic platforms and impactful biotherapeutics, especially in areas of unmet need. By raising funds through our US and Canadian IPOs, we believe we are well-positioned to deliver on our mission. There are great things happening in Canada and I’m glad this helps the world to see it,” says Zymeworks President and CEO Dr. Ali Tehrani.

Canada’s biotech sector has seen an increasing number of development-stage companies trying to bring new drug or medical technology to market, increasing the need for experienced talent and long-term capital necessary for growth.

“We truly believe that Zymeworks’ IPO is a great step forward for life sciences companies in Canada. Together, VC funds and corporates have demonstrated that we have the ability to build and anchor world-class life sciences companies in Canada by leveraging our deep expertise in the health sciences domain,” says Jérôme Nycz, Executive Vice President of BDC Capital.

Nycz confirmed this is the first IPO from BDC’s health care portfolio since 2011 and the first cross-listed IPO for BDC in over a decade. BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada, was an anchor investor in Zymeworks’ last financing round, alongside Lumira Capital.

According to Dion Madsen, Senior Managing Partner of the BDC Healthcare Venture Fund, the groundwork for an outstanding life sciences industry in Canada has been laid and is now coming to fruition. He says Canada has an advantage when it comes to attracting talent in the life sciences industry because of the country’s emerging tech clusters.

“Talent likes to go where there are burgeoning clusters. Over time, biotech clusters have been developing across the country including a next generation imaging and tech-enabled devices technology cluster in Toronto, an AI cluster in Montreal, and a successful tech cluster in Vancouver, building around immunotherapy and antibodies.”

According to a report to be released by BDC Capital at the upcoming CVCA Annual Conference, recent trends indicate solid progress has been made in terms of venture capital financing activity. However, the report also points to a gap in late-stage growth capital in Canada and encourages corporations in the country to play a stronger role in funding innovation.

About BDC Capital

With more than $2 billion under management, BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC, serving as a strategic partner to Canada’s most innovative and high potential firms. It offers a range of equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs scale their businesses into global champions. To find out more, visit bdc.ca/capital.