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Cannabis start-up now valued at over $100m

Cannabis start-up now valued at over $100m

Helius Therapeutics has raised a further $20m from private investors, with New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company achieving a market capitalisation of $105m.

Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics, Paul Manning, says importantly the company remains 100% Kiwi-owned.

“At the very heart of our business, we are about unlocking the potential of cannabis to improve the quality of life. We’re building a medicines company and realising this ambition demands a certain amount of capital. So, we’ve taken Helius from a start-up to a $105m company inside two years, and that’s an important achievement for our team.

We’ve pulled together world-class talent, we have a clear vision with large market potential, a state-of-the-art GMP certified facility and, most importantly, we’re investing to solve big health problems,” says Mr Manning.

Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer JP Schmidt who led the capital raise says the latest success and valuation reflect the advanced stage Helius has achieved with its cultivation, production and manufacturing capabilities.

“We were nearly two times oversubscribed on the day we presented to prospective investors, validating our value. It was great to see such strong interest, not only from our existing shareholders who reinvested, but also from a wider group of New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors. Attracting these new shareholders is a great reflection of what Helius has achieved, our team, and our strategy,” says Mr Schmidt.

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The announcement marks the second group of New Zealand investors to back Helius, after Kiwi businessman Guy Haddleton, who is also Chairman of the Helius board, led a $15m investment into the company in 2018.

Chairman, Guy Haddleton, says it is not just about securing a high-potential investment. Importantly, Helius is driven by the belief that every New Zealander has the right of a pain-free existence.

“I have been impressed with the company’s vision from the outset. This latest transaction recognises the extraordinary talent, and Helius’ advanced-stage of progress, as it prepares to go to market in one of the world’s newest and fastest-growing industries.

“Medicinal cannabis is a capital-intensive business. This raise ensures Helius has the resources it needs to deliver for patients. Later this year, we will be in a position to begin dramatically improving the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Kiwis,” says Mr Haddleton.

The substantial capital injection for Helius comes just after the Government confirmed New Zealand’s much-anticipated Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. The regulations are set to take effect from 1 April this year, at which time Helius will transition from a solely research-based company to a vertically-integrated enterprise.

Paul Manning says investing heavily in clinical studies is what’s needed to give doctors confidence to prescribe medicinal cannabis and, thereby, improving quality of life for patients across the country.

“This additional funding enables us to expand our operations and conduct the first clinical trials, here in New Zealand with kiwi patients. It’s no secret that clinical studies come at a significant cost, and will take time to complete, but they are critical to our mission of innovating the world’s safest and most efficacious cannabis medicines,” he says.

Mr Manning says the company is well-placed to develop a new generation of novel medicinal cannabis products, for local and export markets. What’s more, he believes there’s a significant opportunity for New Zealand to become a medicinal cannabis innovation hub for the Asia-Pacific region, with Helius planning a major role.

Helius was one of the first companies in New Zealand to gain a licence to cultivate cannabis back in 2018 and the first to be certified ‘New Zealand Grown’. Now with over $35m invested, it is by far the best-funded, which will be necessary in order to meet the needs of New Zealand’s healthcare professionals and their patients.

The company has attracted top scientific and pharmaceutical talent from New Zealand and around the world. It already has a substantial, precision-controlled cannabis cultivation operation in East Tamaki, Auckland. The company is nearing completion of its GMP medicines manufacturing facility, which includes cannabis extraction, processing and packaging. Helius holds a License to Cultivate, Licences to Import and a License to Deal in Controlled Substances.

Helius is also the foundation sponsor of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis conference, MedCan Summit 2020, coming up next month on 18-19 March at SkyCity.

By 2025, medicinal cannabis is forecast to be a US$55 billion global industry.

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