Spartan Bioscience is hoping to fill its new office on Baseline Road with as many as 80 staff by the end of the year, CEO Paul Lem told the crowd gathered for the office’s grand opening recently.
Much of the growth is due to Spartan’s recent strategic partnership with Canon, as the companies prepare for their DNA diagnostic hardware’s worldwide expansion.
“Our vision was always bring the power of DNA testing to everyone,” said Mr. Lem, adding he wants to see DNA testing streamlined and made more intuitive the same way a personal computer became an iPhone. Spartan Bioscience focuses on integrating DNA collection, extraction and analysis in an intuitive and compact device.
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Several Canon officials joined Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Canon BioMedical’s president and CEO, Akiko Tanaka, said there was good chemistry between the two companies
“I felt a synchronization in our philosophy of helping each other, helping our community, helping the people,” she said.
Canon was already interested in DNA diagnostics, but saw little growth on their own. After the Association of Molecular Pathology conference two years ago, Ms. Tanaka asked for a list of companies that would be good partners for her company.
Spartan came up time and again, she said, adding she and her colleagues at Canon weren’t even aware that Spartan Bioscience was Canadian at first.
Canon was originally meant to be more heavily involved in the biomedical side of technology, but the printers and cameras overtook the business. To Ms. Tanaka, this feels like they’re coming back to their roots.
“Canon is known for bringing high-technology to everyone’s life . . . we wanted to do the same for DNA testing,” she said.
Bruce Lazenby, CEO of Invest Ottawa, said that this is “one more proof point” of Ottawa’s strength in the biotech market.
“We’ve got over 100 companies in the medical device area here in town,” he said. “Who [Spartan is] bringing to town is really important. The relationship they’ve got with Canon is a classic opportunity to leverage other opportunities. Now we can get other Ottawa companies to pitch to Canon . . . because [Canon is] familiar with the area.”
Mr. Lazenby also celebrated the ecosystem in Ottawa and the resources, saying that the ecosystem “helped make this happen”, specifically championing the pool of co-op students which Mr. Lazenby called the “Try before you buy program.”
Mr. Lem is also the founder of the Fresh Founders, a group that style themselves as the ‘Next Generation of Entrepreneurs’. Among that group is also Tobias Lütke, CEO and founder of Shopify.
“At the beginning we were all really young,” said Mr. Lem, “working out of our basements. It’s amazing over the last ten years to see all that success, giving each other advice and seeing each other grow. It’s phenomenal.”
“I remember meeting Tobi when he was working out of his in-laws basement and that was like seven, eight years ago and now he’s a tremendous success. A bunch of companies are starting to come out and really make it big.”
Mr. Lazenby was also quick to heap praise on the Fresh Founders.
“It gives [people] somewhere to go where they can see what success looks like,” Mr. Lazenby said. “If you can’t dream it you can’t do it. When you hang around with guys like this you go ‘wow, if they can do it I can do it’.”