Eli Lilly is participating in a new investment fund which will focus primarily on early-stage drug development opportunities in Canada as a whole and Quebec in particular.

The fund, which will be operated by investment investment group TVM Capital, will have an initial size of $150 million. As well as Lilly, other backers include Teralys Capital (which is putting in $65 million), BDC Venture Capital, Fondaction and Advantus Capital Management.

A Chorus for Canada

The project involves "a new investment model in Quebec", which will involve the formation by the fund of "single therapeutic asset companies and benefit the entire local life sciences ecosystem of researchers, entrepreneurs, business partners and service providers", the consortium claims. As part of the arrangement, Lilly will establish a Canadian unit of of its Chorus early-phase drug development network.

Chorus works as a virtual model using "internal Lilly skills, contract research organisations and external consultants with very specific areas of expertise", the company noted. The autonomous model is designed to cost-effectively progress potential medicines from candidate selection to clinical proof-of-concept.

Michael Mason, president of Eli Lilly Canada, said the new investment "will support a more efficient way to develop innovation in Canada". He added that establishing a Chorus division in Montreal "illustrates Lilly's commitment to 'research without walls' and to investing in R&D in Canada".

Jacques Bernier, managing partner of Teralys, said that "we value TVM Capital's ability to work with local entrepreneurs and the entire ecosystem to source the best assets available from strategic partners such as Lilly, as well as universities, development corporations, centres of excellence,and existing biotech companies".