13 Aug 2022

FACIT pitch competition empowers Ontario’s oncology entrepreneurs

For Dr. Saumik Biswas and the entrepreneurs behind the robotic ultrasound technology code-named the ‘Lymphonator’, the 2021 FACIT Falcons’ Fortunes competition was a valuable learning experience.

Biswas and his team from Western University are experts in their field, creators of a groundbreaking device that detects lymph nodes in surgically removed colorectal cancer tissues faster and more accurately than manual examination. But presenting their innovation to a panel of judges from venture capital and the life sciences industry, with the clock ticking, for a chance at the award and investment, was uncharted territory.

“That was our team’s first pitch competition, and it was a new challenge for us,” Biswas says. “It forced us to thoroughly investigate, understand and communicate our technology and our commercialization strategy in just 10 minutes.”

Although they didn’t end up winning the grand prize at Falcons’ Fortunes, the Lymphonator team left the competition with the ‘Audience Choice Award’ for their engaging pitch, as well as a solid understanding of their commercialization needs and value in the market. The experience helped them win subsequent pitch competitions and put them on track to be awarded critical seed capital – much needed given the early stage of their technology – through FACIT’s Prospects Oncology Fund later that year.

“Our ongoing connection to FACIT has been critical in moving our innovation forward along our commercialization pathway,” says Biswas, who is now CEO, President and Founder of the resulting spin-off company Tenomix Inc. “It has helped us reach several critical milestones in a short period.”

Biswas’ experience is common for participants in Falcons’ Fortunes, FACIT’s annual pitch competition, now entering its 10th year. Attending Falcons’ Fortunes as an audience member, you’ll see some of Ontario’s top innovators pitch exciting new discoveries in oncology for the chance at a game-changing investment. But what you won’t see are the hours these budding entrepreneurs spend working with FACIT to prep their pitches and refine their commercialization plans.

This article appeared on OICR’s website.

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