In downtown Edmonton, a small company is quietly making its mark.
“DrugBank started as an academic project,” says co-founder Michael Wilson.
The University of Alberta spinoff has created a vast database related to pharmaceutical drugs, selling the information to more than 130 clients around the world.
“Everything from genetic testing to helping pharma companies develop new drugs,” Wilson says.
“We’re expecting to grow very rapidly.”
DrugBank commercialized in 2016 and now has 20 people on staff.
The co-founders are seeking out new financing to further grow the business, which they hope to nearly double in size this year and next.
“One of the things about raising money is, it’s kind of hard anywhere,” says Wilson. “It’s just a hard thing to do because it’s always this chicken and egg problem.
“We’re trying to build an innovation economy here in Edmonton,” Zack Storms says.
DrugBank recently took part in a new investment summit, winning the top prize of $125,000. The money will be directed to the company’s sales and product teams.
The idea for the summit emerged from a weekly gathering of the tech community and other business leaders.
Storms is behind Startup TNT (Thursday Night Tradition), a privately-led initiative.
“We’re just like a catalyst for investing in some of these early-stage companies that have a lot of great potential,” he says.
Storms says aside from a networking opportunity, Startup TNT is also a chance to educate investors about the potential of startups emerging in Edmonton.
“We need to have fun together, we need to support each other; it’s for entrepreneurs, it’s for investors,” he says.
DrugBank is working hard to secure other sources of financing as the company works on new ideas to take to market and grow its customer base.
“It’s really exciting,” Wilson says.