Life Sciences has always been at the heart of London, Ontario. We have the same patients as any other geography in the world and a proud history of innovation. Supported by London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC,) and led by Justin Leushner, Life Sciences London is a forum for ongoing dialogue and updates on regional activity. Justin holds monthly meetings to connect and support the people and groups in this sector; visit http://www.lifescienceslondon.ca to join this diverse group. However, the next level for commercializing innovation is to fund and support it. That is where Launchit Ventures Inc. comes in.
As Justin Leushner explains, initiatives including Life Sciences London are ideally positioned for networking, advisory services, and establishing a community. However, to grow these emerging conversations, ideas, and products, requires incentives and higher stakes. In other words, money! For Justin, there exists a deeper and more focused aspect to the Life Sciences discussion that is driven by improving peoples lives, creating products and services that generate revenue, and creating jobs to help the economy. That’s Launchit Ventures.
Jamie Harsevoort formed Launchit Ventures in 2021, as a modest venture studio with the ability to provide financial, management, and back-office support, and a mandate to fund and support three companies in three years.
Launchit accomplished that goal within its first few months. Since its inception, the fund has reviewed over 150 business ideas from around world and is actively establishing six companies and counting. Justin is one of the initial partners at the fund which includes Jamie and Frank Naus. The three came together with complementary backgrounds in Life Sciences. Jamie Harsevoort, CEO of Webility Solutions, a successful software solutions company in Hamilton, has worked on numerous healthcare projects over the years. With Frank’s background in Clinical Research, Jamie and Frank came together to build out Lumedi Inc., an electronic data capture (EDC) and patient support solutions company. The third member to join the team is London’s own Justin Leushner, inventor, and entrepreneur with a background in genetics. His mandate is to find more technologies for the team’s fund and bring his experience in taking companies public. Today, Launchit Ventures is off and running.
At the core, Launchit Ventures is a different kind of incubator. First, it distinguishes itself as a Venture Studio, which unlike the traditional Venture Capital company provides more than capital. It provides industry expertise and services to take an idea from a thought to a commercialized product or service company. A hidden gem within Launchit is its Shared Services model lead by the fourth member of the group, Peter Neely. Peter joined the team when Webility acquired the company he was heading up, Nuway Software. Launchit Shared Services is a grouping of services provided to each venture as needed to help develop the idea into a full company. The Shared Services offerings are Legal, Product Development, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Administration, Insurance, Quality Management Systems, and Sales. When you partner with Launchit, you are getting an entire support system and a team of experts.
“We fund and operate the businesses with the intent to avoid the innovator having to learn business,” says Justin Leushner, Ivey MBA alum and sessional instructor. “We often see technologies that come from an academic scientist, a computer programmer, or medical doctor who does not want to quit their day job. Launchit Ventures partners with the individual, licenses the technology, establishes a new company, and takes on the responsibilities to resource the company and commercialize the technologies.”
This savvy team is efficient: In less than 12 months, four of the companies are poised to be revenue positive. The company is also expanding and is forming its second Venture Fund with the goal of raising $25 million to support life sciences companies beyond the start-up phase.
London is taking its rightful place on the global map for Life Sciences innovation and commercialization. Justin explains how technologies are coming to Launchit from near and far. “We are in the process of closing deals with two companies in the US with the intent of moving operations to Canada. Canada has a unique public market system that can be utilized to continue to grow companies with the Venture Exchange and the TSX. Forget the brain drain. Through Launchit, we are taking advantage of the shared services model combined with our expert local staff, favourable dollar, tax system, and fantastic standard of living – to attract companies to come north.”
Justin Leushner can be reached at email@example.com