SPI Bio 2019

4 December 2019

Sherbrooke’s SPI Bio completes a round of financing, raising $1.7M

PRESS RELEASESPI Bio, a young Sherbrooke biotechnology company that has developed a device for automatically detecting Legionella bacteria, announced the completion of a round of financing that raised $1.7M thanks to the participation of Capitall Investissements, Natural Products Canada, Sherbrooke Innopole, ACET Banque Nationale and other private investors.

The funds raised will allow SPI Bio speed up the marketing development of its flagship product, BioAlert, the first and only integrated automatic detector in the world designed to continuously perform direct monitoring for the Legionella bacteria in industrial, commercial and residential cooling systems, commonly known as cooling towers.

“We were really pleased to see that so many people believe in the potential of SPI Bio. With this financing, we will be able to move more quickly towards attaining our business objectives. These funds will allow SPI Bio to move beyond the start-up phase and become a true small to medium-sized business with a firm footing in its area and we are more than thankful”, affirmed Étienne Lemieux, cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of SPI Bio.

Capitall Investissements is a fund operating in Montréal and created by specialized attorneys and seasoned entrepreneurs based in the Brittany region of France. It is their first investment in a Québec business project, in partnership with Sherbrooke Innopole.

This is a strategic investment for the Brittany based group Capitall Investissements, which is putting up $750 000 in financing for the Québec start-up SPI Bio, a company that is destined to take on the world with its innovative concept for detecting Legionella bacteria”, highlighted Frédéric Burot, associate attorney with STRATEYS and representative for Capitall Investissements.

“We have quickly built strong business relationships with Capitall Investissements and its representative Frédéric Burot after our first meeting in January of 2018”, related Josée Fortin, Executive Director of Sherbrooke Innopole. “Right from the start, the group demonstrated a keen interest in investing in local area technology businesses, so much so that only 20 months later, we are tremendously proud to be finalizing this first joint investment in a business with great potential, SPI Bio. This young business, operating in the key Cleantech sector, has the technology, the talent and the ambition to make its mark on the global market. Sherbrooke Innopole is proud to offer its support and financing, through its innovative business investment fund – Fonds d’investissement pour entreprises innovantes.”

Over the course of the last year, the partnership between Sherbrooke Innopole and the group of French investors has also resulted in the establishment of a mentorship programme for setting up technology businesses in North America, whether they are in the start-up phase or already well established. Offered in collaboration with the private entrepreneurship office LEDEN, this programme helps foreign businesses to evaluate and begin their expansion at competitive costs. “Of course, a reciprocal service is offered to Sherbrooke businesses wanting to explore the European market”, highlighted Ms. Fortin.

It’s encouraging to see a highly innovative Canadian company like SPI Bio solving a critical health and safety issue,” said Shelley King, CEO of Natural Products Canada. “We are thrilled to be a part of the ecosystem supporting them in their development and growth.”

“ACET, who has been mentoring SPI Bio for almost six years now, is quite pleased to be a co-investor, through their ACET Capital S.E.C. fund, in a business that is young and dynamic just like its founders and employees. Their high-tech product, BioAlert, has generated a lot of interest in the marketplace. We are convinced that SPI Bio is looking at a very bright future”, affirmed Ghyslain Goulet, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACET Banque Nationale.

Marketing development phase

This round of financing will allow SPI Bio to structure their marketing development channels, increase their production capacity and deploy validation showcases across North America in order to continue documenting the advantages of its patented technology.

Recall that SPI Bio benefitted from Sherbrooke Innopole’s commercialization support programme VITE (Validation d’innovation technologique à l’essai) in 2018. The Sherbrooke business was at the time able to have a technology showcase at the Palais des sports Léopold-Drolet, in partnership with the City of Sherbrooke.

For 2020, SPI Bio will prioritize developing the industrial, hospital and tourism sectors, in Québec and Ontario among others. The company will also work to develop its distribution network, with a view to making inroads into the American and European markets in the future.

In order to implement its business strategy, SPI Bio foresees hiring five new employees, who in the short term will be assigned to the sales, production, and administration departments. Currently they have 17 highly qualified employees, all based at the multitenant science building Espace LABz, in Sherbrooke’s Parc scientifique. At that location, SPI Bio assembles the BioAlert devices, as well as the associated analysis cartridges.

The BioAlert device consists of a self-loading biochemical analysis compartment as well as a data management and communication system which allows it to conduct daily tests and provide the results in less than three hours. The device makes the analysis process easier by eliminating the need for manual sampling and expediting those samples to a laboratory, which may take up to 14 days before getting the results. While the BioAlert device does not replace the monthly tests required by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, it does allow users to foresee what the official laboratory results will be and take timely action in order to avoid any fallout of a failed test.

Thus, SPI Bio’s innovative and connected solution allows for better management of biological risks at reduced cost, as well as managing or reducing the consequences associated with a potential Legionella outbreak. Legionella bacteria are a serious public health issue, causing over 25 000 hospitalizations and nearly 4000 deaths each year in North America.

About SPI Bio

Created in 2014, SPI Bio launched its first pilot project in the fall of 2017 in order to validate the BioAlert technology under real usage conditions. The benefits of the technology were quickly recognized by their industrial and financial partners, thus equipping the company with the necessary resources for quickly bringing the product to market. Currently, SPI Bio has a multidisciplinary team combining biotechnology and engineering experts, as well as sales and marketing specialists. 

About Capitall Investissements

Capitall is a successful French individual and family fund for entrepreneurs, among which some have become leaders in their field of activity. More specifically, our fund allows us to act as a strategic and financial partner with start-ups as well as small or medium-sized businesses to contribute to accelerate their development on the international level. We have a value-added creative vision and a smart money approach to business. Capitall Investissements has a double objective. On the one hand, we aim to facilitate access to venture capital to innovative Canadian businesses in the technology sector at the prestart and premarketing phases, then to mentor and coach them in setting up shop abroad, more precisely in France, thus allowing them to benefit from the strength of our networks and experience, and have a quick and efficient access to European markets. On the other hand, we aim to foster the attraction of and support to French businesses in Canada, more precisely in Québec, following the same active involvement logic. 

About Natural Products Canada

Natural Products Canada (NPC) is the driving force behind Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster–a strategic community of SMEs, research institutes, corporations, investors, government departments, and service providers who support the development and commercialization of naturally-derived products and technologies in health and life sciences, natural resources, agriculture and agri-food, and sustainable bioproducts. As part of its role in the Cluster, NPC offers a suite of Commercialization Programs to help companies and researchers advance high-potential products and technologies; provides connection and innovation scouting services to industry and investors through its Innovation Hub; and leverages its Investment Fund to help develop and de-risk promising Canadian opportunities. NPC has over 500 opportunities in its pipeline, has completed seven investments, and has already experienced two exits. Established in 2016, NPC is funded by a range of public and private investors, including the Government of Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR) program, administered by the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Visit

About Sherbrooke Innopole

Sherbrooke Innopole is Sherbrooke’s economic development arm whose mission is to accelerate the development of businesses in five key sectors – Advanced Manufacturing, Cleantech, Information Technologies, Life Sciences and Micro-nanotechnologies – and to work to make Sherbrooke an attractive and innovative business environment. 

About ACET Banque Nationale

Over the years, ACET has garnered a solid reputation and firsthand expertise in the start-up and development of technology businesses, most of which have arisen from research by students and professors at the Université de Sherbrooke. Since its creation in 2011, ACET has supported 90 business ventures in various technology sectors and those projects have generated more than 400 jobs. For more information about ACET and its unique support model, check out

Sources: SPI Bio and Sherbrooke Innopole

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