Nicoya is improving human lives by helping scientists to succeed

Recipient: Nicoya
Region: Waterloo
Total funding allocated: $2.57 million

Scientist uses the Nicoya OpenSPR-2 instrument to analyze protein interactions
Scientist uses the Nicoya OpenSPR-2™ instrument to analyze protein interactions

Around the world, millions of researchers work relentlessly to better understand the inner workings of diseases in order to develop next the generation of drugs to treat them. That critical work would not be possible without the right tools and cutting-edge technology. That is where Nicoya, a biotechnology company based in Kitchener, Ontario, comes in.

By using innovative nanotechnology, Nicoya has created an affordable, easy-to-use, and low-maintenance surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument, a device that measures the interactions between molecules—an essential tool for the development of new drugs to treat diseases. Nicoya's OpenSPR™ is the world's only benchtop SPR, replacing traditionally expensive, high-maintenance and complex devices. For scientists, the OpenSPR™ makes it possible to use a high performing instrument to measure accurate data from the comfort of their own lab—saving time, money and energy. In fact, more than 600 scientists in more than 40 countries currently use OpenSPR™ and are trained and equipped to service and maintain their own devices.

In its pursuit to make critical lab instruments and technology more accessible to scientists, Nicoya sought FedDev Ontario support at a vital time of growth for the company. Thanks to a FedDev Ontario investment of up to $2.57 million, Nicoya is scaling up its operations, growing its team from 21 to 50 with the addition of 29 new employees, and further developing its first-to-market product, OpenSPR™, for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

"Thanks to support from FedDev Ontario, we can keep pushing to be a global leader in biotechnology by investing in research and development to address the needs of our customers," says Ryan Denomme, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nicoya. "It really allows us to stay competitive in global markets long term."

Founded in 2012 as a start-up spun out of the University of Waterloo, Nicoya received its first funding support from FedDev Ontario through a former program geared towards scientists and engineers in business, which the company credits as instrumental to its launch. Early success in business can be attributed to some of the most innovative academic researchers in North America using OpenSPR™ in their daily lab work, including scientists at the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, John Hopkins University, Yale University and Columbia University, to name a few. In fact, Dr. George Espie from the University of Toronto credits Nicoya's benchtop OpenSPR™ in helping him to accelerate his ground-breaking biochemical research and publish within three months.

"We are thrilled that FedDev Ontario has been able to support the growth of Nicoya from inception to scale-up," says Denomme. "These investments allow us to continue to build out a world-class team that will drive growth into new markets globally. For us, FedDev Ontario's collaboration on the evolution of OpenSPR™ has enabled us to continue on our path of developing highly innovative solutions for researchers. It's with this support that we will continuously invent novel technologies to accelerate drug discovery and cure diseases."

Last year, Nicoya launched a new version of its product, the OpenSPR-2™. This novel SPR system builds on established success in the academic research market, while allowing the company to meet the needs of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. And this is just the beginning. With FedDev Ontario's support, Nicoya can continue to provide leading industry scientists with access to affordable, easy-to-use, high-quality instruments that will serve to accelerate the development of breakthrough drugs used to treat many of the world's harmful diseases.

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Thanks to support from FedDev Ontario, we can keep pushing to be a global leader in biotechnology by investing in research and development to address the needs of our customers.
Ryan Denomme, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nicoya