Canada’s first BioHub opens at Concordia University

District 3’s co-working lab merges science and business

Where can scientists who are looking to bring their research to life go? District 3 has opened a state-of-the-art BioHub at Loyola Campus. The BioHub features wet and dry laboratories and a collaborative working space, with the goal of equipping researchers with the necessary tools for finding their research-market fit.

Based out of Concordia, District 3 offers programs and services for experiential learning. Through a collaborative business model, they aim to foster innovation, form communities, and have a global reach.

“The BioHub was created so that scientists can build their prototypes and products by having access to a state-of-the-art wet lab,” said Xavier-Henri Hervé, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of District 3 Innovation Centre. “Through our programs and coaching, they also gain the knowledge, skills, and network to build a viable business with the potential for global impact in biotech and healthcare.”

Through various programs, such as the Launch & Grow Program, District 3 enables scientific entrepreneurs to build their product, assess their place in the market, and “scale their startup for global impact,” via one-on-one coaching, workshops, and access to labs.

“Many scientists want to have an impact through their research,” said Ana Fernandez, PhD Life Sciences and BioHub Coordinator at the District 3 Innovation Centre. “Entrepreneurship gives them an outlet to have a faster and more direct impact through commercialization of their research.”

Co-founded by Collin Horner and Claudia Penafuerte, Cura Therapeutics is a BioHub startup in the Launch & Grow Program. They are focusing on developing innovative immunotherapies to cure cancer and infectious diseases that prevent relapses and disrupt tumours’ blood supplies.

“[Cura Therapeutics’] technologies harness cytokines to create multi-functional proteins with potent anti-cancer and anti-viral properties,” explained Penafuerte. Cytokines are signaling molecules that regulate immunity by stimulating the movement of cells towards an infected area.

Our Immunotherapy can be used alone or in combination with a wide range of targeted therapies or cell-based therapies” said Penafuerte.

Cura Therapeutics recently announced the closing of their $1.55 million pre-seed financing round. Pre-seed funding, which takes place early on in the stage of product development, is money raised to help develop prototypes of products.

“Building a biotech startup is extremely challenging and requires people with different specialties to succeed,” said Horner. “An ecosystem is everything; having the support from District 3 is invaluable for us.”

Open to all scientific entrepreneurs in Quebec and across Canada, District 3 will help from the beginning of their idea, all the way through to the final stage of building a business with a global impact.

“At District 3, we are building the backend for the burgeoning bioeconomy through collisions with talent, research, government and industry,” said Hervé. “Our vision is for Quebec and Canada to be global leaders in this revolution.”

The BioHub Program begins Oct. 12, 2020. Scientific entrepreneurs completing or holding a Masters, PhD, or Postdoctoral degree in STEM fields can apply at


Graphic by Lily Cowper.

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