Financial Post: “Great research, horrible commercialization”: Why investors see Canada as a potential hotbed for health tech

By James McLeod

About 13 years ago, Dr. Ralph DaCosta noticed something unusual — a fluorescent glowing red mass of bacteria — while looking at the insides of a lab rat in his microscope as a PhD student in Toronto.

The glowing bacteria wasn’t directly related to his research, but it planted the seed of an idea: what if it was possible to make bacteria visible to the naked eye?

Eventually he filed a patent, but it didn’t really go anywhere until 2014, when a Toronto-based venture capital firm wrote a cheque for $4 million to help him commercialize a handheld fluorescent imaging device.

It’s a three and a half trillion dollar industry, just in the U.S. alone

Analyst Jeff Becker

Today, the MolecuLight is in the hands of doctors in North America and Europe, allowing them to see bacteria on human skin in real time, which allows for better treatment of chronic, infected wounds.

DaCosta’s device is an early Canadian success in a health technology field that had become one of the hottest spaces for startups — and one in which Canada is well-positioned to take advantage, even if access to the massive U.S. health care industry is the primary target for most investors.

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