It was what you could realistically call a ringing endorsement of TEC Edmonton’s new TEC Health Accelerator, from Canada’s top health care investment banking firm, no less.
“Quite frankly, we first came to Edmonton secretly dreading the pitch we thought we’d hear from TEC,” said Brian Bloom, co-founder and president of Canada’s leading health care investment house, Bloom Burton & Co. Bloom was the keynote speaker at the launch of the TEC Edmonton TEC Health Accelerator, Nov. 27, 2014 in Edmonton.
Bloom is not one to pull his punches. “We regard many such (accelerator) projects as massive wastes of public dollars, as sinkholes of money. But TEC Edmonton’s TEC Health Accelerator is doing the right things. This is all about supporting winners, providing advisory services, mentoring, creating market awareness, networks and introductions so the cream can rise to the top.
“This is what accelerators should be doing, creating a faster path for the best companies to grow.”
Brian Bloom and Jolyon Burton have worked together for more than 12 years, and they formed Bloom Burton & Co. in 2008. Bloom Burton raises capital for health care companies, offers merger and acquisition advisory services, provides equity research with “analysts who aren’t afraid to call crap ‘crap’ and good stuff, ‘good stuff’ ”, directly invests in companies, and supports company creation and incubation through its consulting work.
Academic commercialization, bringing ideas and innovation to market that will ultimately improve health care delivery to patients, isn’t that hard to figure out, Bloom said.
Commercialization of health research should have higher priority within universities, he said. “Only a small sliver of academic curiosity-driven research has some commercial potential to start with.”
Industry and investors, he says, should be actively engaged with faculty researchers and inventors to determine market needs. Researchers and inventors, Bloom said, should be rewarded for their interest in commercialization. “Commercialization shouldn’t work against a researcher. It should count towards tenure.”
The $64,000 question in his business, said Bloom, is trying to judge the future, given the commercialization process takes years and years. “What the cholesterol market will look like in 10 years is a qualitative judgement. Trying to calculate value is tough!!”
In his talk, Bloom had fun dispelling myths about academic commercialization.
“They say ‘commercialization is difficult.’ Well it’s supposed to be difficult.
“ ‘Government should do more.’ Government already does a lot!
“ ‘The ‘valley of death’ is killing great ideas. Not it’s not! The ‘valley of death’ is a lovely place for ideas to shrivel up and die. Extraordinary ideas don’t die. They eventually find funding and support.
“As for the notion that there’s no money out there … the truth is there’s more money than there are good ideas worth investing in.”
He’s blunt. “Ninety percent of basic scientific research has no commercial potential. And most of the remaining 10% have the wrong plan to market or the wrong people. This can be fixed! This is where TEC Edmonton TEC Health Accelerator can contribute.”
His praise holds high value. “Bloom Burton will be working closely with the TEC Edmonton’s TEC Health Accelerator,” says Bloom. “We’re proud to be strategic partners.
“I would not attach our company’s name to any organization that we had any doubts about. We think the TEC Health Accelerator business model has got it right.”