Queen’s University has been a global leader in health sciences education and research for over 150 years. The depth and breadth of research expertise at Queen’s continues to grow and the impact of the studies and discoveries have had and continue to have benefits that reach far beyond the walls of the institution.

Jim Banting and Nancy Harrison sit at a desk in Richardson Hall
Nancy Harrison, Venture Partner from Amplitude Ventures (right), takes part in the Fireside Chat with Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal (Research) (left).

Many of these impacts have come about from important partnerships between the university and industries.

Amplitude Ventures, an organization of investors and company builders are experts in bringing the best healthcare innovations to market. Their goal is to develop companies that can bring life-changing therapies to patients, while delivering value to investors.

Recently, Nancy Harrison, Venture Partner from Amplitude Ventures visited Queen's campus to present a unique opportunity for PhD candidates, post docs and MDs. An alum from the Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University (Geophysical Engineering), Harrison is a former Partner with Ventures West and Co-Founder and former President of MSI Methylation Sciences, a company with a focus on the central nervous system. A Venture Partner with Amplitude Ventures is an experienced investor and biotech executive, impacting the sector’s long-term growth across the country.

“Nancy is an innovator. We are excited to have her return to visit Queen’s and share the amazing opportunity for Queen’s researchers to work with Amplitude Ventures and potentially become future leaders of innovative life sciences companies,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal (Research) with Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation.

“We believe the future of healthcare is in the Canadian innovation ecosystem. Our current investment focus is on precision medicine companies with a focus on computational biology. Amplitude has an early stage focus and is investing primarily in companies developing high value therapies with a secondary focus on medical technology such as next generation imaging and robotics.,” says Harrison. “While I’m not the field expert, I have over 30 years of experience in funding and running life sciences companies. Researchers provide the true expertise needed to make these companies successful.”

Amplitude Ventures runs two programs, Pre-Amp and the Amplitude Fellowship Program. The Amplitude Fellowship is a program that invites PhD candidates, post-docs and MDs to explore the “what ifs” in a variety of concepts, as the first step toward creating novel and innovative health-sciences companies. The Fellowship, completed mainly remotely over the summer months, also holds several in-person sessions in their offices in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, but allows the participants to complete their work from their own labs.

Attendees at the presentation also had the opportunity to ask questions about the program as well as what they can be doing as PhD students to prepare for being market ready with their research and/or intellectual property.

“If a PhD candidate, post doc or MD is looking to enter entrepreneurship with their field of research, they’re going to want to be looking at developing assets like a drug (small molecule or peptide), writing IP, even hypothetical or anticipative IP and be thinking outside of the box in how they can use their assets or where they can get samples,” says Harrison. “When looking at Fellowship applications, we are looking at those who have deep scientific or business backgrounds in the life sciences fields and whether they have the creativity and ability to solve complex problems.” The full-time, paid Fellowship gives participants an opportunity to apply their scientific expertise, entrepreneurial talents, and self-starter mentality toward creating new ventures. Calls for applications will be announced in early 2024 with an anticipated deadline in March 2024.

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