Invention to Innovation: Demystifying Commercialization

Invention to Innovation: Demystifying Commercialization is the SickKids-exclusive commercialization education series presented by the Industry Partnerships & Commercialization (IP&C) office.

Throughout this series, attendees can expect to learn about the translation and commercialization path for innovations going from the Research & Development lab to patients. Join us for presentations from industry experts and hear success stories from entrepreneurs in our own ecosystem.

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Session 1 | Turning SickKids Discoveries into Solutions for Patients

Session one, Turning SickKids Discoveries into Solutions for Patients, took place on September 21, 2023 and featured a variety of presenters from the IP&C department who delved into the fundamentals of commercializing a discovery at SickKids. Our presenters also outlined some of the support and opportunities that IP&C can provide to innovators interested in bringing their innovations to market to benefit patients.

Session Speakers from IP&C:

Konrad Powell-Jones 

  • Director, Business Development

Konrad applies his extensive pharma and tech transfer expertise to lead IP&C’s business development team. With over 25 years of combined experience as a Biotechnology Commercialization Manager for institutions such as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Sinai Health System, and over 15 years as a Contracts Specialist for CAMH and other hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto, he brings a broad spectrum of knowledge to commercializing early-stage discoveries out of our institution.

Kamran Rezai, MSc

  • Business Development Analyst

Kamran supports the IP&C office with identifying and evaluating new intellectual property, performing market and competitor analysis for invention disclosures and developing marketing materials for outreach and partnering purposes. Before joining IP&C, he worked at SickKids as a Contracts Specialist negotiating research funding agreements and site budgets for industry-sponsored clinical trials.

Kamran also held the position of Venture Associate at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) where he gained experience evaluating technologies in Cell & Gene Therapy for enabling therapeutics, improving existing platforms and company creation. Kamran received his Master’s of Science in Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto, and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa.

Stephanie Tammam, PhD

  • Business Development and Alliance Manager

As IP&C’s Business Development and Alliance Manager, Stephanie plays a crucial role in facilitating the successful transfer of research discoveries developed at SickKids to the commercial sector. She uses her expertise to promote research at SickKids both internally and externally, maximizing the impact of our intellectual property and ensuring ideas move from the bench to the bedside. This includes developing business plans and commercialization strategies, identifying and establishing partnerships with external organizations, leading deal negotiations as well as post-transaction relationship management.

Stephanie received her BSc. Honours (Biochemistry) and MSc. (Structural Biology) from the University of Calgary and has been at SickKids for over 15 years. First as a Ph.D. student and then as Lab Manager for the Howell Lab in Molecular Medicine.

Session 2 | Commercializing AI and Machine Learning-Enabled Innovations

This session offered SickKids’ staff the opportunity to learn about the commercialization of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) innovations that are transforming health care. It also highlighted key market trends, explored effective commercialization strategies, and dove into the nuances of IP protection for AI/ML technologies. Our panel of industry experts addressed critical questions and offered guidance for navigating the evolving landscape of AI in health care while safeguarding innovations.

Session Speakers:

Anil Bhole, LLB

  • Founder and Managing Partner, Bhole IP Law

Anil is a lawyer, Canadian patent agent and trademark agent who is also qualified by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to file and prosecute U.S. applications on behalf of Canadian applicants. Anil specializes in comprehensive IP strategy which comprises patent, trademark and design registration, transactional work, enforcement and value generation. He often partners with universities and health care institutions in Canada to strategize, prosecute, and commercialize intellectual property which, in many cases, lends itself to immediate commercialization through spin-offs.

Anil has developed numerous patent portfolios, primarily building them from the ground up. He has particularly strong experience in the areas of cryptography, neural networks/machine learning, including foundational machine learning technologies as well applications including image processing, natural language processing, and analytics.

Anil received his Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He also holds a bachelor’s in computer engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Sanjana Basu, MBA

  • Investor, Radical Ventures

Sanjana Basu has been an Investor at Radical Ventures since 2019. Sanjana believes strongly in the deeply disruptive power of AI to create massive value across sectors. She focuses on technically differentiated teams, building applied AI businesses across verticals and has led some of the firm’s Healthcare AI investments.

She has been involved with Radical’s investments in Lisa Health, PocketHealth, Signal 1, Synex, and Ubenwa.

Before joining Radical, Sanjana invested in various deep tech and consumer tech businesses at the Venture arm of the Global Indian Conglomerate, the Tata Group. Before that, she was an Investment Banker at Barclays in Mumbai.

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, she completed her MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, and her undergraduate in Economics & International Relations from Tufts University in Boston, US.

Dr. Devin Singh

  • Founder and CEO, Hero AI
  • Paediatric Physician and Lead for Clinical AI and ML, Division of Emergency Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Devin Singh is a practicing Paediatric Emergency Medicine Physician from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Western in Medical Sciences and went on to work for the Ontario Provincial Government as a business analyst. He then attended medical school at the University of Sydney, Australia, and completed his paediatric residency and emergency medicine subspecialty training at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

Dr. Singh’s research focuses on the use of machine learning to solve some of the largest problems in health care. He is the Physician Lead for Clinical Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at SickKids for the Division of Emergency Medicine and holds a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Toronto.

Most recently, Dr. Singh founded Hero AI, an innovative health tech start-up dedicated to empowering patients and health care providers with AI.

Session 3 | Navigating Drug Development for SickKids’ Discoveries

In this engaging session for SickKids staff, Charles River Labs and the SickKids Industry Partnerships & Commercialization team explored the drug development journey and how it relates to commercializing SickKids’ discoveries.

This expert-driven session covered the various stages of the drug development process and unpacked the significance of strategically reducing risks and enhancing the value of a technology to attract potential pharmaceutical partners. Attendees also got the chance to learn about some of the internal resources available at SickKids to support and facilitate drug discovery initiatives.

Session Speakers:

Samuel S. Chuang, PhD

  • Director of Scientific Advisory Services, Charles River Labs

Sam has over 25 years of academic, biotechnology and nonclinical CRO research experience. He leads a team of seasoned scientists with extensive regulatory and scientific experience in drug development. Sam collaborates with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, advising and monitoring nonclinical regulatory safety program as well as medical device development. He provides scientific and regulatory expertise covering a variety of areas including drug classes (new chemical and biological entities, advanced therapies, etc.), medical devices and therapeutic areas.

Oksana Goncharenko, PhD, MBA

  • Director of Licensing and Industry Partnerships, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Oksana brings vast experience in commercialization of early-stage technologies. She has worked in a variety of technology transfer offices, including UPEI, U of S, and UHN. Oksana has also worked in the biotechnology industry, with her recent role being Director of Partnerships, IP and Licensing at Lucid Psycheceuticals, a subsidiary of FSD Pharma. Oksana combines her science experience and business knowledge to promote early-stage discoveries developed at SickKids. She is passionate about early research and is eager to help with its adoption to advance health care. Oksana holds PhD in oncology (National Institute of Cancer, Ukraine) and MBA with the specialization in biotechnology management (University of Saskatchewan, Canada).

Session 4 | Guiding Health-Care Innovations Through Start-Up Creation

This session explored what it takes to transform ground-breaking discoveries at SickKids into successful start-up companies, wrapping up this season of the Invention to Innovation education series.

Attendees gained invaluable insights from a seasoned researcher turned entrepreneur, a corporate lawyer specializing in health innovation, and an early-stage life sciences investor in this engaging panel discussion. From identifying market potential to assembling a multidisciplinary team, SickKids staff were equipped with the strategic know-how needed to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape in the life sciences.

Session Speakers:

Jean-Philippe Julien, PhD

  • Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
  • Scientific Co-Founder, Radiant Biotherapeutics

Dr. Jean-Philippe Julien is a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Research Institute, and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Immunology at the University of Toronto. He is also the co-founder of SickKids spin-out company Radiant Biotherapeutics, a revolutionary antibody platform company developing multi-valent, multi-specific therapeutics.

In addition to these roles, Dr. Julien is also the Canada Research Chair in Structural Immunology and a Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Julien’s laboratory characterizes the mode of action of antibodies to guide the design of new vaccines and immunotherapies. His research is supported by several grants, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Canada Institutes for Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Dr. Julien and his team strive to translate the discoveries made at the molecular level in the laboratory to advance biotechnologies.

Lily Yi Li, PhD

  • Managing Director, Sixty Degree Capital

Dr. Lily Yi Li serves as the Managing Director of Sixty Degree Capital, where she has established herself as an accomplished leader within the health care sector, specializing in drug discovery and healthcare services across Europe, the United States, and Asia. Lily brings deep operating and scientific capabilities to Sixty Degree Capital, enabling her to lead successful portfolios, programs, and teams.

Since joining Sixty Degree in 2017, Lily has been at the forefront of health care investments, overseeing a remarkable portfolio of companies. Prior to her role at Sixty Degree Capital, Lily garnered invaluable experience as a pharmaceutical scientist, specializing in formulation, CMC, pharmaceutical modeling, and GMP system/plant design. She holds a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science, with a primary focus on Alzheimer’s Research, from the University of Toronto. Both her undergraduate and master’s degrees were also earned at the University of Toronto.

Jay A. Lefton, LLB

  • Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Jay Lefton is a partner in the Toronto office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP where he provides corporate and securities advice predominantly for companies and persons in the technology and life sciences sector. Jay also represents universities, hospitals, research institutions and researchers in connection with establishing and financing spin-off and start-up companies. He is one of six Canadian lawyers recognized in the global edition of Who’s Who Legal in the category of “Life Sciences (Transactional)”.

Jay sits on the Startup Companies Committee of the Hospital and is a former member of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Securities Advisory Committee.  Jay has previously taught at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.