Gowling WLG advises on deals aimed at bolstering disease prevention, including COVID-19

19 February 2021

Paul Armitage, partner and head of Vancouver’s Technology Industry Group, recently advised Precision NanoSystems, Inc. (PNI) on a pair of multimillion-dollar deals that will help bolster the company’s disease prevention endeavours, including for COVID-19.

Based in Vancouver, PNI is a world-leader in accelerating the creation of transformative medicine. Among other endeavours, the company’s Genetic Medicine Toolkit enables researchers around the world to effectively translate new disease insights into non-viral genetic medicines. PNI markets its products to global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as a number of leading academic institutions.

Last fall, PNI received a commitment of up to $18.2M from the Government of Canada to help develop a COVID-19 vaccine. PNI is using the investment, offered under the Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s (ISED) Strategic Innovation Fund, to advance a best-in-class COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate to clinical trials.

In February, the company received an additional contribution of $25.1M through the Strategic Innovation Fund. This round of funding will help support a $50M push to establish a bio-manufacturing centre in Vancouver. Slated to open within the next two years, the 40,000-square-foot facility will feature multiple suites with manufacturing lines for the end-to-end production of vaccines and genetic medicines.

The Vancouver-based centre will also support the Government of Canada’s national bio-manufacturing strategy, which involves expanding production capacity of critical medicines for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as COVID-19.

“Clients such as PNI are doing incredibly valuable work, and it’s a privilege to serve them,” said Armitage, who led the firm’s efforts to close both deals. “In a broad sense, it’s incredibly gratifying to have the firm involved in work that will have a lasting impact on global disease prevention efforts. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here with PNI.”

Both deals were closed at a particularly crucial time, as much of the world continues to grapple with the medical, logistical, and economic challenges of an ongoing global pandemic. Armitage, who has more than 20 years of experience in technology licensing, channel distribution, life sciences collaborations, and related areas, was instrumental in navigating the complex legal challenges stemming from each deal.