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YM BioSciences was incorporated in 1994 as one of Canada's first "receptor companies" designed to advance the novel biotechnological basic research from academic institutes through the development process to regulatory approval. Virtually all universities outside the United States either lacked or had impoverished programs for commercialization of the monumental amount of money invested annually in basic research. Over the course of its existence YM licensed or joint-ventured with a number of universities in Canada and internationally concluding acquisitions of development stage companies in the United States and Australia.


YM became aware of the extraordinary advances in numerous areas of human and agricultural biotechnology in Cuba, whose output was largely unpublished and unknown in developed markets. YM became the first company in a major market country to joint-venture with the Cuban Government fulfilling the latter's aspiration to commercialize the output from its enormous investment in human, veterinary and agricultural biochemistry and bioengineering. The prospective value of its epitomic achievements would partially mitigate the vast economic loss from the Soviet withdrawal concluded in 1992.


YM proposed to provide the bridge for Cuba’s scientific excellence to the capital markets, to finance and undertake the clinical development in Europe, North America, Japan, Australasia and other geographies in order to advance the prospect of partnerships with multinational pharmaceutical companies.


Canadian and Barbadian subsidiaries of YM were established as joint ventures to hold the commercialization rights to certain intellectual property initially from five of Cuban’s leading scientific centers – CIM, CIGB, CNIC, CBQ and CENSA. Each joint venture had shared boards of directors and management teams from of YM and the Center. The joint venture and licensing agreements proposed by YM were approved by the Cuban Council of State in May 1995(1).

As a consequence of the unique achievement in structuring foreign-domiciled joint ventures, YM became:


  • The first major-market company to conclude commercialization agreements with the Cuban government for its biomedical  innovations and discoveries

  • The first and only major-market company to joint venture in Cuba’s biopharmaceuticals

  • The first pharmaceutical company in a capitalist country to appoint a senior member of the Cuban establishment to its board of directors

  • The first to achieve a US FDA orphan drug designation for a Cuban-origin drug - 2004

  • The first to receive FDA clearance for a clinical trial in the United States with a Cuban-origin drug - 2005

  • The first to treat US patients with Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals and to recruit multiple leading hospitals across the USA - 2006

  • The first biotechnology company in North America to list on the London Stock Exchange/AIM - 2002

  • The first company with Cuba-related businesses to finance in the US - 2003 - clear a prospectus with the US SEC and list on a US Stock Exchange (NYSE-MKT) - 2004 - completing a number of US-based financings and M&A transactions (US$ 273 million) 

  • The first biotechnology company in a  major-market country to clinically develop a passive and active immuno-oncology approach to the same target 

      (1); The saga of Cuban Biosciences 

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