SFU Venture Labs
Lesley Esford is currently a trusted advisor to start-ups and organizations. She is currently the Executive Director of SFU Venture Labs a science based accelerator of growth stage companies located in Vancouver BC. She also founded a horse health company in 2020 called Durwell Equine Naturals. In 2019 she formed a Is a boutique consulting group that provides business development, corporate partnering, business planning and investment advisory services to companies and organizations in the Life Sciences sector. Prior to that she was the past President and CEO of LifeSciences BC, a not-for-profit industry association that supports and represents the life science community of British Columbia through leadership, facilitation of investment and partnering, advocacy, and promotion of the province's world-class science and industry.
Before LSBC, Lesley was the Director of Programs for Accel-Rx, a national Canadian health sciences accelerator based in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she managed Accel-Rx investment competitions. Before joining Accel-Rx, Lesley spent over 15 years in academia, industry, and government in positions supporting the growth of the life science sector, including 9 years as an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) with the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). As an ITA, she invested $2.5 Million each year and had an active portfolio of 50 -75 companies that she worked with. She assisted life sciences companies through every aspect of the innovation process from concept to product, providing technical and business advice including competitive technical intelligence (CTI), referrals, and other services as needed.
As a special initiative while working at NRC-IRAP, she organized the Lion's Den, giving life science companies an opportunity to pitch to a select group of investors. She organized the event to ensure that the investors' in addition to indicating their interest in the opportunity'would give the companies valuable feedback, helping the companies become investor-ready more quickly.
Education, Personal, and Fellowship
Lesley is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, where she obtained her PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. In addition, she has degrees in both business administration (BAdmin, with Honors, in finance) and science (BSc, MSc) from Brock University.
A member of Class 20, Lesley served her fellowship at the LifeSciences BC under the mentorship of Ela Borenstein (Class 17), a Managing Partner in the Healthcare Fund at BDC Capital. She began her fellowship at Accel-Rx.