PharmAla Biotech Holdings Inc. (CSE:MDMA) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed PharmAla Biotech Holdings Inc. (CSE:MDMA) for a virtual Market Open on January 26, 2022.  

PharmAla is focused on the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients of the substituted methylenedioxy- phenethylamines class (MDXX), including 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). PharmAla also intends to develop novel formulations of MDMA and MDXX, as well as novel drug delivery pathways for these molecules.

CEO Nicholas Kadysh and other members of the amazing PharmAla team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

“We’re very excited to be listed on the CSE and to open the market – not only for ourselves but also for all of the good that we think we can do with MDMA and molecules in the MDXX class,” stated Kadysh. 

CSE CEO Richard Carleton added, “We really have struck a chord with teams that are looking to advance the understanding and application of various compounds for the treatment of a variety of mental health issues – CSE has been there on the forefront and we look forward to helping PharmAla Biotech advance their cause.” 

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Bill Besenhofer on Being a B Corp & Making the Food Chain Efficient | The CSE Podcast Ep10-S2

CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Bill Besenhofer, Co-Founder and CEO of The Fresh Factory, to discuss consumer and investor “appetite” for plant-based, clean-label food, becoming a B Corp, and how technology plays a role in how they serve emerging and existing brands in this space. The conversation also highlights Bill’s thoughts on where he sees the clean food landscape going.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Bill discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Background of The Fresh Factory and COVID-19’s impact
3:44 – Achieving brand loyalty
4:31 – What it takes to be a B Corp
9:46 – Technology’s role in how they help brands
17:26 – Hurdles for companies in this space
20:05 – Will The Fresh Factory be joining the metaverse?
20:50 – The Fresh Factory’s team and stakeholders
22:50 – Where the clean eating landscape is going
26:50 – What investors can expect from The Fresh Factory

About The Fresh Factory
The Fresh Factory is a vertically integrated company focused on accelerating the growth of the plant-based, clean-label food and beverage brands of tomorrow. The Fresh Factory owns or partners with emerging brands in the plant-based space to develop, manufacture, and sell products made from fresh produce and recognizable ingredients. It operates from its centrally located manufacturing facility near Chicago, serving customers across the US. As a B Corporation, The Fresh Factory is ESG-focused, driven to make a lighter, greener impact on the environment and a stronger, positive impact on local communities and the food supply system as a whole.

Learn more about The Fresh Factory at The Fresh Factory B.C Ltd. | CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange (thecse.com)

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Planet Based Foods Global Inc. (CSE:PBF) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed Planet Based Foods Global Inc. (CSE:PBF) for a virtual Market Open on January 19, 2022.  

Planet Based Foods is focused on producing natural, low processed, and nutritional choices that are better for people and the planet. They currently offer a high quality, cost-efficient vegan meat alternative derived from hemp proteins that includes burgers, breakfast sausages, burger crumbles, and sausage crumbles.

CEO Braelyn Davis and other members of the amazing Planet Based Foods team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

“Planet Based Foods represents another welcome addition to CSE’s stable of plant-based food companies who are leading the charge toward a healthier and more sustainable future,” noted CSE CEO Richard Carleton. 

Davis added, “We are thrilled to be listed on the CSE and share our sustainable hemp superfoods with the world!”

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Adriana Kertzer on Representing the Power of the Plant | The CSE Podcast Ep9-S2

CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Adriana Kertzer, Co-Founder of Plant Medicine Law Group, to discuss the unique aspects of representing clients in the cannabis and psychedelics sectors, ongoing policy and regulation issues, and what makes their law firm different from others in this space. The conversation also highlights Adriana’s thoughts on how she sees the plant medicine landscape evolving.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Adriana discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Introducing Adriana Kertzer and Plant Medicine Law Group
4:13 – Client segments across the psychedelic and cannabis industries
7:43 – A diversity of opinions on plant medicine policy
15:40 – Legality and the psychedelic ecosystem
23:49 – Unique differentiators of Plant Medicine Law Group
28:28 – Going public and being part of a larger community

About Plant Medicine Law Group
Plant Medicine Law Group expands equitable and legal access to plant medicine by helping companies in the psychedelic and cannabis industries thrive in a complex, emerging market. Their strategic expertise empowers clients to successfully launch, fund and scale their business.

Learn more about Plant Medicine Law Group at https://www.plantmedicinelaw.com/

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Mindset Pharma: Pursuing breakthroughs in the psychedelics field with the help of “hard science”

Psychedelic drug researchers have moved mountains over the last 30 years, helping to show that these misunderstood substances have vast potential to benefit people, while being safe and non-addictive.

Today, psilocybin is in Phase 2b clinical trials, MDMA is in Phase 3, and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has given both trials breakthrough therapy status. There is tremendous momentum behind getting psychedelic drugs approved against a backdrop of two frustrating trends in North America: the opioid crisis and the negative effect of COVID-19 on mental health.

Mindset Pharma (CSE:MSET) saw early on that there would be a wave of interest in using psychedelic drugs as medication, but that ultimately there would be even more interest in next-generation drugs delivering greater benefits as medication with full patent protection.

From the outset, the company’s goal was to apply drug design, behavioural pharmacology and medicinal chemistry, which are essentially the tools of modern pharmacy, to try to harness the power of psychedelic drugs. 

Chief Executive Officer James Lanthier joined Mindset in early 2020 and was sold not only on the calibre of the scientists involved, but the specific strategy the team had developed.

“We’re applying hard science to these substances to try to create the best possible medications for people – that’s it, full stop,” Lanthier explains. “There’s now tremendous evidence to suggest that psychedelics have a breakthrough role to play to treat psychiatric mood disorders, but in our view, the classic psychedelic drugs did have some shortcomings.”

Essentially, Mindset wants to create new drugs that deliver the same or superior benefit but will work more predictably for the widest possible patient set. The team selected a psilocybin-like compound known as MSP-1014 from its Family Number One of novel drugs. The group of compounds is structurally closer to psilocybin but has the potential to deliver a more pronounced psychedelic experience than psilocybin does at similar doses. Given its higher efficacy, the drug would boast an improved safety profile because, theoretically, a patient could take less of it in order to achieve the same effect.

When Mindset tested MSP-1014 in mice and compared it to psilocybin at a range of doses, the company found that psilocybin reduced body temperature by as much as nearly six degrees, which is hardly a nominal amount. MSP-1014, however, showed no effect on body temperature, an early indication of the compound’s safety profile.

Another interesting piece of data from the lab studies confirmed MSP-1014 was comparable to psilocybin after a drug discrimination assay. In the lab, rats were able to determine the distinction between MSP-1014 and saline, which gives even further credence to the drug’s efficacy. “When we take a drug into clinical trials, you want to have as much confidence as possible that the drug is going to be effective and safe,” Lanthier says. “It’s another strong data point that will help us move forward with more confidence.”

Psilocybin is showing promise in early trials, but its effects can last up to eight hours. Mindset is hoping to tackle that challenge with its Family Four group of DMT analogues, which could offer similar benefits in a therapeutic context but with a much shorter trip of between 15 to 30 minutes. Its lead candidate in that group is MSP-4018, which is being compared against a serotonin analogue known as 5-MEO-DMT found in plant species and toad venom.

Researchers think this could be useful for in-clinic psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Because 5-MEO-DMT results in a total duration of experience of between 10 minutes and two hours, it would mean less time to spend in a clinic and fewer resources needed to treat a patient. 

Mindset’s research uncovered meaningful safety improvements with MSP-4018. “We saw signs of serotonin syndrome at a whole range of doses with 5-MEO DMT, which is a really unpleasant basket of symptoms that can afflict people with high levels of serotonin in their bodies,” Lanthier says. “MSP-4018 showed no signs of serotonin syndrome, but we saw behaviour that suggested that it was just as psychedelic as 5-MEO DMT. It’s really encouraging because it looks like we’ve got a drug that is just as psychedelic but potentially quite a bit safer.”

All of this is a step toward proving the concept behind Mindset to make better drugs than the original psychedelic by applying science. The company is building its value on those tweaks and improvements.

“This is about creating new chemical designs that make changes to the structure of the original drug, and then testing them rigorously to see the effect of the changes,” Lanthier explains.

Essentially, Mindset is changing the underlying molecule, synthesizing the elements of the particular drug. It’s an important distinction from its peer group, as companies can patent protect this type of intellectual property to a much greater degree than a formulation of the original drug.

“If you’re not changing the active pharmaceutical ingredient, but just putting it in a different solution, the level of intellectual property rights is quite shallow,” Lanthier states. “Another group can come along with a slightly different formulation and compete against you.”

In Mindset’s case, they’re getting intellectual property rights on the composition of matter, which Lanthier calls the “gold standard.”

The group has also selected two indications for its lead therapy MSP-1014: treatment-resistant depression and end-of-life cancer anxiety. Both are tragic mood disorders with, sadly, large populations.

Nearly 30% of people who suffer from depression do not find relief from traditional antidepressants or therapy sessions. It’s a field where pharmaceutical companies haven’t brought many innovations in the past few decades, leaving it ripe for psychedelic drugs to fill the void. And potentially, very lucrative: by dollar value, antidepressants represent a $15 billion industry.

Now comes the hard part. Mindset is hoping to move out of the lab and into clinical trials in 2022, which does not come without risks. As all drug discovery companies know, success in the lab doesn’t always translate to success in clinical trials. It takes a while to do all the testing and work through regulatory requirements until the drug gets to a point where regulators are comfortable having them taken by humans. 

But psychedelic discovery is different than many other drug discovery efforts because there is so much data available on how existing psychedelics work.

“Based on all the data, we have a pretty high level of confidence that many of these drugs will have a role to play in treating neuropsychiatric and mood disorders,” Lanthier says. “We’re not reinventing the wheel – we’re simply trying to make changes to the chemical structures that will make them safer and more effective. So, it’s a bit different than a typical biotech venture that’s working on something that’s brand new.”

The goal for Mindset is to stick to what they’re good at: discovering and developing new psychedelic drugs. The firm is positioning itself to partner with other groups, be it pharmaceutical firms or psychedelic companies, that want to get into the space and have the expertise and infrastructure to run clinical trials. 

“We don’t think that we’re going to have to raise billions of dollars to become the next Pfizer and take these drugs through late-stage clinical trials,” Lanthier notes. “We think there will be lots of opportunities for Mindset because we were filing intellectual property early and developing data early.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Mindset Pharma at https://www.mindsetpharma.com/

Iris Bincovich on Exporting Ingenuity and the Importance of Milestones | The CSE Podcast Ep8-S2

CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Iris Bincovich, CEO of InnoCan Pharma (CSE:INNO) to discuss the company’s focus as a specialty pharmaceutical company including the development of products that harness the unique properties of Cannabinoids combined with smart delivery formulations. The conversation also highlights the importance – and impact – that achieving milestones has had on the company’s life as a public company.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Iris discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Re-introducing Iris Bincovich and Innocan Pharma
3:31 – Iris’ background in chemistry and the healthcare industry
5:22 – Exporting Israeli innovation across the globe
8:41 – Going public in Canada and the importance of meeting milestones
13:47 – Opportunities for growth in 2022
16:19 – Accessing Innocan’s products
18:35 – Iris’ favourite restaurant

About InnoCan Pharma Corporation
The Corporation’s business can be described as three distinct operating segments relating to the incorporation in products of CBD in their formulation: (i) research, development, marketing, distribution and sales of InnoCan-branded OTC pharmaceutical products; (ii) research and development of non-pharmaceutical products for third parties in exchange for fees and/or royalties; and (iii) research and development of hydrogels containing liposomes intended for licensing or sale to third party pharmaceutical corporations for manufacturing, distribution and sales.

Learn more about InnoCan Pharma at InnoCan Pharma Corporation | CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange (thecse.com)

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Wesana Health: Leveraging personal and professional experience to help patients achieve better mental health outcomes

Former Chicago Blackhawks enforcer Daniel Carcillo spent much of his NHL career getting inside the heads of opposing teams, making sure they knew that if they crossed a certain line, things could go sideways.

Today, Carcillo is an entrepreneur whose mission is, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of what he did on the ice. Instead of contributing to head injuries, he now seeks to heal them.

The transition from hard charging two-time Stanley Cup winner to source of hope for people with mental health challenges began in 2015 when a seventh diagnosed concussion forced Carcillo into early retirement. At age 30, he entered the most emotional and anguished time of his life.

Years of fierce competition, and having his body repeatedly slammed into the ice, the boards, and competing players, resulted in Carcillo suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI). The undercurrent of anxiety and depression during early retirement got so bad that Carcillo, a husband and father, contemplated suicide.

He spent five years trying different concussion treatments, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. But it was all for naught. Carcillo found he was no closer to improving his brain health and quality of life. He hit rock bottom.

Then in 2019, hallucinogenic mushrooms helped him begin to turn things around. The experience compelled him to start a new journey assisting others suffering TBI-related symptoms. Athletes, soldiers, domestic violence victims and people recovering from serious accidents are among the many types of patients in need.

Healthy once again and with a new team to lead, Carcillo is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wesana Health Holdings (CSE:WESA). His mission with Wesana is to revolutionize the way neurological health and performance is treated through personalized medicine and bringing the promise of psychedelic drug-assisted therapy to the masses using psilocybin to treat TBI and migraines. His company is also working with ketamine through their Wesana Clinics and is in partnership discussions with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to explore the use of MDMA to treat TBI.

“Two and a half years ago, when I was suicidal and in my darkest moments, I used psilocybin in a really responsible setting,” Carcillo explains. “I was able to experience just an amazing recovery. And since then, we have found ways to establish Wesana with an outstanding team. We have this innovation that we think will help millions of people.”

Research suggests that psilocybin can create new neurons and new neural pathways in the brain, stimulating concussion-affected areas and reversing destructive, habitual thought processes. In Carcillo’s case, he started a regimen that includes occasional large doses of the hallucinogen and regular non-hallucinogenic doses, which are helping to produce normal brain scans and bloodwork. 

“You can rewire the brain, break up destructive thought patterns and then create new, positive ones,” explains Carcillo.

But he is realistic about the challenges Wesana faces in a new, undefined and increasingly crowded industry that must engage in a long dance with US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada regulators to eventually bring life-saving products to market.

“As it stands right now, there’s no approved pharmaceutical for TBI-related symptoms. And the number one cause of death is suicide. I know it all too well,” says Carcillo.

“I also know how fragmented everything is in this space, from treatment to research. And there are so many gaps and what makes it hard on the patients is getting a diagnosis. And then number two is finding the treatments. We’re here to make as big an impact as we can to positively influence this process for survivors and make it easier on them and their families and caregivers to understand what’s going on and then get them healing.”

Operationally, Wesana heads into the latter half of 2021 with a $21 million runway and plenty of media attention, stemming partly from Carcillo’s fame and passionate advocacy for psychedelic drug-assisted therapy.

In the product development pipeline, the company is advancing its SANA 0013 through the preclinical stage studying psilocybin to treat TBI-related major depressive disorder. Wesana is making headway with the FDA, as it has scheduled a pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) meeting with regulators around year’s end, to be followed by the opening of the IND in the third quarter of 2022.

While psilocybin remains the company’s focus, it recently staked its claim in the markets for ketamine and MDMA, two drugs far ahead in the regulatory approval process. Carcillo readily acknowledges that bringing psilocybin-based therapies to market will take years, as the drug remains illegal in the US, as does MDMA. The FDA approved ketamine as an anesthetic for humans in 1970.

To further its expansion, Wesana acquired Psychedelitech (known as PsyTech) in September 2021, gaining a chain of mental health clinics that can administer ketamine therapies.

Wesana also picked up a software platform that helps clinicians track patient outcomes in real time and supports a community forum of over 8,000 professionals, many of them respected resources for psychedelic therapy protocols and clinical best practices.

For MDMA, also known as the popular recreational drug “ecstasy” or “molly,” the company has developed a partnership with MAPS, which is mulling an MDMA-assisted therapy program to treat TBI. Wesana has committed to provide an initial US$1.5 million to assess the program’s viability and might establish a joint venture with MAPS.

MAPS’ research has primarily focused on MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an affliction common among soldiers that causes similar mental health symptoms and outcomes as TBI. MAPS says current FDA-approved Phase 3 trials have demonstrated an 88% reduction in PTSD symptoms among participants.

“Using this medicine, MDMA can help alleviate that emotional spike during conversations, so it’s easier to deal with trauma,” says Carcillo, who envisions teaming with MAPS to create a “gold standard” of clinics. “Think of it in the context of why it worked so well for PTSD. And so for TBI, that journey is no different.” 

Laying the groundwork for an even deeper understanding of TBI, Carcillo says Wesana has formed partnerships with the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the University of South Carolina as it seeks methods to prevent, or at least minimize, TBI-related damage during boxing matches and other athletic competitions. Wesana will also be using the RESOLV lab to phenotype the TBI patient population that will be participating in the Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. 

“What can we be doing as far as exercises and supplementation to better protect the brain?” Carcillo asks. “For example, when a WBC fighter knows they’re training for a fight, what can we do to better protect them? What can we implement, as far as supplements, to be neuroprotective before the fight to lessen the damage, and then train for processing speed, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and neck strength that minimize TBI damage on the front end?”

At the university, the company plans to spend $1.5 million to establish the BrainStorm Lab, which will serve as a hub for neurological and cognitive improvement research, with an eye on developing compounds to enhance neural performance and act as neuroprotectants of the brain. The lab will also work with the US military – which has a large presence in South Carolina – on pre-battle protection and acute post-injury scenarios.

Looking ahead, Carcillo says Wesana plans to rapidly expand the acquisition of clinics and develop more partnerships while pushing along its drug development programs. Plans also include publishing two major white papers on TBI with a group of leading scientists, neuroscientists and pathologists. 

Carcillo, in the meantime, continues working to maintain his mental health while remaining busy growing Wesana with Co-Founder Chad Bronstein. But there is more at stake for him on his new personal journey – he is inspiring others through advocacy, action and education.

“It’s definitely a young space, but an exciting space to really impact people, and treat their traumas rather than putting on band aids and trying to manage symptomatology,” Carcillo concludes. “You have to kind of pinch yourself some days. It’s the most exciting thing to be a part of, trying to positively impact that.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Wesana Health at https://www.wesanahealth.com/

Year-End 2021 Interview With Richard Carleton Part 2

Earlier this month, CSE CEO Richard Carleton sat down for an interview to recap an eventful 2021 and what is shaping up to be the CSE’s biggest year ever in 2022.

It is fair to say that the CSE is moving to a new level in the global exchange ecosystem – it’s like the next generation of the CSE. A senior issuer designation is part of this evolution. Can you update us on its status and the importance of the new designation, both to CSE issuers and the Exchange itself?

I think I should start by explaining that there is no such thing as an exchange designation being senior or junior. The way securities regulation works in Canada is that it is the companies that are characterized as being senior or venture issuers.

On December 9, we formally announced a project in the form of a request for comment published by the BC and Ontario securities commissions. What this entails is a significant rewrite to the listings rules of the Canadian Securities Exchange.

There are two major facets to the project. The first one is that we are updating our requirements for junior companies, both at the entry level and to continue to be listed on the Exchange. We have worked with our regulators over the last couple of years to revise these rules.

The second part, which is grabbing all of the headlines, is that we are creating a senior tier of the exchange. This is not a new exchange or separate trading facility, but a designation for a certain number of our issuers who have achieved a certain size and maturity in terms of the development of their business. Do they have revenue? Do they have significant assets? Is their sales trajectory rising? Do they have a significant market capitalization?

We’ve identified some 60 to 80 companies that would qualify to list on similar exchanges in Canada, and we’ve also seen a move by companies to dually list with Nasdaq this year. So, we are creating a rule framework that will regulate these companies, in effect as senior issuers.

The new framework will require these companies to have larger boards, bring more prescription around corporate governance procedures, plus set shorter timeframes to complete quarterly and audited annual financial reporting. There are also a few other measures that the companies will have to abide by, including more supervision of their continuous disclosure to the market.

In return, we believe there are multiple benefits for issuers designated as members of the senior tier. The first is that we have been working with IIROC to ensure these companies will be included on IIROC’s list of securities that are eligible for reduced margin when in dealer inventory. Right now, when dealers are holding CSE issuers in inventory, they have to take a charge against their regulatory capital of 100 cents on the dollar. Companies trading at more than $5.00 per share will only have to have a charge against regulatory capital of 20 cents, which is equivalent to that on other exchanges in Canada that serve as a senior company marketplace. It sounds technical, but it will have a practical impact on reducing the cost of capital for these companies when they are raising money.

We’re also working with international index providers to ensure that these companies are eligible for inclusion in different indices. For example, the US multi-state operators, which in many cases have market capitalizations in the billions of dollars, could qualify for inclusion in one of the MSCI or FTSE US indices. We have companies operating in Israel that would qualify for inclusion in the Israeli indices. We have been working with the index companies to provide for this capability.

We’ll also have, as part of the senior designation, the ability to list SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies), exchange traded funds, and structured products. And that’s important because we know that there are a number of ETF manufacturers that would like to launch products that are US cannabis-oriented, and they could launch those products on the CSE. There may not be much room left to run in the SPAC space, but we also know that there are some interesting structured products that are being developed, and we think we are the logical home for those instruments.

That is all part of the Exchange competition to come, where we will be working with the creators of these products to provide an appropriate home for their new listings.

Read Richard’s latest blog post here to learn more about issuer designations and the request for comments on the CSE’s proposal to revise its listing policies.

The senior designation is obviously going to be a very important development. Considering this, the impressive financing activity, the consistent growth in both institutional and retail investor participation, and other factors we have discussed, can you talk to us more about your views on the CSE’s evolving position within the broader global financial marketplace.

It is very much an evolution. We have been at this for 20 years and have the benefit of a very experienced team, whether it’s on the trading, market information, or listings regulation side, who understand at a very deep level what it takes to provide successful exchange services to the issuer, investor, and trading communities.

What it has really been is a series of efforts by us to eliminate all of the barriers and friction points for our issuers in the provision of those services. If I think back some years ago, we weren’t accessible by the online discount brokers in Canada. That was a huge issue that we devoted a great deal of time and energy to, and then five or six years ago, we managed to overcome that hurdle. Of course, that had a big impact on turnover, accessibility, and the appeal of a listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Now that we have a cohort of larger, highly successful companies that have achieved a significant level of development in their lifecycle, we are looking at the friction points there. I talked about membership in international indices. We also need to improve access for international investors, one example being brokers who provide access to Canada for accounts in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and other regions. We have to ensure they have access to these names.

There are institutional investors who claim they won’t invest in the small-cap space and have concluded that anything listed on the CSE is small-cap in nature. We have to work with these institutional investors to educate them about the success that many of our issuers have had, and the fact that they have attained market capitalizations in excess of a billion dollars in a number of cases.

At the end of the day, it’s a case of keeping our nose to the grindstone. It’s doing the hard work, making the trips, representing the issuers, identifying the hurdles, and developing plans to overcome those challenges.

It really sounds like 2022 is going to be one of the most important years in the CSE’s history. Let’s conclude with your thoughts on what companies listed on the CSE can anticipate in terms of service enhancements in the new year.

In the first part of the year, we are going to be working with the industry on completing the comment period for the new listings manual project. And in conjunction with that, we are going to be quite vocal across a variety of channels, explaining to people that we have succeeded with a number of very large companies, so the marketplace can expect some promotion and information related to that.

As our customer base grows and our regulatory obligations and connection with the framework for the senior issuers grows, we will be enhancing the teams who work with our issuers and their advisors, in our Toronto and Vancouver offices in particular. It is incredibly important that we continue to maintain our service levels, which is a really important part of what we do. I have received tremendous feedback over the years regarding both the personal service levels people feel they get at the Canadian Securities Exchange and the very positive problem-solving culture within our group. And we are certainly looking to maintain that as we continue to build out the team in order to provide high levels of service.

And I know we have talked about it for some years now, but we will see settlement and clearing services from the Canadian Securities Exchange in 2022. In fact, I have just come from a demonstration of the real, live system which is up and running in our testing environment. So, that is something I think will give us a significant advantage, in particular when we are working with the industry on listing structured products and taking advantage of the benefits of tokenizing their securities.

Obviously, there is lots going on. As we know, there is also motion in the global securities world. We’ve got Cboe Global Markets, which has acquired the NEO Exchange locally, and they will be closing that transaction at some point next year. And so that really leaves us as the only Canadian listing venue, along with the TMX Group, being locally owned and operated. That is an advantage we will be continuing to present to the industry in 2022.

Check out Part 1 of the interview here.

Year-End 2021 Interview With Richard Carleton

Anyone keeping an eye on developments at the CSE over the past several years has watched the Exchange go from strength to strength, with the number of listed securities, capital raised by CSE-listed issuers, trading volume, and other performance measures climbing sequentially without interruption.

As exciting as the growth in CSE performance and services has been to date, the Exchange is preparing to take things to an entirely new level in 2022. Key to this is a senior designation for larger issuers who meet certain criteria. The new designation, and the regulatory framework that comes with it, also means that ETFs, SPACs, and structured products will be able to list on the CSE for the first time.

In an interview conducted in mid-December, CSE Chief Executive Officer Richard Carleton discussed these topics and more, giving issuers and investors a preview of what is shaping up to be the CSE’s biggest year ever.

Companies listed on the CSE have enjoyed an excellent response to their capital raising efforts in 2021, with a total of $7.74 billion in financings completed in the 12 months to the end of November. We have seen equity raises of all sizes, and debt is becoming more prominent as well; in October, Trulieve Cannabis successfully marketed US$350 million in senior notes. The listing environment at the CSE is designed to facilitate a low cost of capital for the Exchange’s issuers. As larger fundraisings take place, is that advantage being maintained?

There is a lot of ground to cover there, but I’d begin by saying that the Exchange exists to remove as much regulatory friction from the capital formation process as possible, so there are advantages for CSE-listed issuers generally when they are raising capital. As an example, we don’t charge issuers a percentage fee of the amount raised each and every time they do a secondary offering.

In large measure, the decrease in capital costs we’ve seen is also a function of changing dynamics, in that capital is being provided to large and successful companies, particularly in the US cannabis space. For instance, some of these companies were able to launch debt offerings because they now have substantial revenues to secure the debt against. As a result, they have seen the cost of capital from a debt perspective drop to levels which begin to reflect companies of similar size and growth trajectory in the consumer-packaged goods sector.

It’s thus a function of how we operate as an exchange, but also an indication of how capital providers view many of the companies listed on the CSE.

At the end of November, there were 736 listed securities on the CSE, which is 17% higher than at the same time last year. Talk to us about some of the trends you have observed in companies coming to market in 2021.

The first thing is that we are likely to achieve a record in terms of the number of new companies that join the Exchange this year. Right there, that tells you that the market is very robust for companies looking to raise capital to go public. One of the interesting things is that it has been very broadly based. We have many new themes that people have been interested in.

The sustainable food movement is a good example of a sector where a number of companies have tapped the public markets this year. Obviously, the psychedelics industry has also captured a good deal of investor attention. And then there are long-standing industries, such as mining, which is back in a big way, not only because of the robust nature of precious metals prices but also because investments are being made in various industries to advance the electrification of the economy, or decarbonization if you want to call it that. This has a significant impact on the mining space because the demand for the minerals used to produce batteries is extensive. And, of course, companies are also looking to shorten their supply chains, so investments in projects located within North America, for example, have been accelerated.

We have also had a continuing robust marketplace in the cannabis space. We have seen some new issuers in this sector join the Exchange this year and significant amounts of capital have been raised.

In addition, there has been tremendous investment in technology, which provides us with esports, gaming, and the decentralized finance companies related to blockchain. From my 30 odd years of experience in the capital markets, this is really one of the few times I can recall when virtually every industry sector is firing on all cylinders.

There is potential to challenge another listings record in 2022 and surpass this year’s total. This is a very exciting prospect for me, as it shows there is a high demand for our services.

Explain the role of retail investors in the market in 2021. What impact did they have on trading and liquidity?

In a word, huge. The junior capital markets in Canada are traditionally dominated by retail investors. Retail participants have always constituted an extremely important part of the investing and trading community that supports the work of the Canadian Securities Exchange.

It’s no secret that there was an absolute explosion of retail trading activity, particularly in the first quarter of 2021. We’ve set records in terms of daily number of shares traded, transactions, and value traded. By any measure, we are significantly above any kind of activity levels seen previously. And that growth has been principally driven by the expansion of activity from the retail space.

When we talk to our colleagues, and particularly those in the discount brokerage sector, we’re hearing that a whole new generation of investors has joined the marketplace, and really just since the beginning of the pandemic. These newcomers skew significantly younger than the traditional retail investor population who were in the 55 and up category in the past. We have seen lots of new accounts opened with significant participation from people in their 20s and 30s. These are people who are investing in the markets for the first time, and they bring a different viewpoint. They were enormously important in providing capital to the cannabis industry. They are very focused on issues around sustainability and environmental impact, diversity, and helping create a better world. They want to invest in company stories they believe in and that are helping to shape that better world.

There are a number of longer-term outcomes we will see because of this. Things such as ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting from companies, as well as companies having to pay a significant amount of attention when presenting their stories to where they sit in the world of impact investing. I think it is healthy, it’s positive, and it’s going to introduce some important changes to the way in which companies raise capital and communicate with their shareholders.

Check out Part 2 of the interview here.

Mehran Ehsan on Powering the Future with Oil and Natural Gas | The CSE Podcast Ep7-S2

CSE’s James Black is joined by Mehran Ehsan, CEO of Permex Petroleum (CSE:OIL) to discuss the company’s operations in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico and why Mehran envisions a future where oil and natural gas contribute to world powered by “clean” energy.

Here’s an overview of what James and Mehran discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Introducing Mehran Ehsan and Permex Petroleum
0:45 – Why the Oil and Natural Gas Industry?
1:58 – What is impacting gas prices?
3:50 – The impact of Omicron on price
5:50 – What is Permex’s business model?
7:30 – The role of a junior in the Permian Basin
10:20 – Generating royalty interests
11:45 – JP Bryan’s impact on Permex
13:35 – Addressing “dirty oil”

About Permex Petroleum Corporation
Permex Petroleum is a uniquely positioned junior Oil & Gas company with assets and operations across the Permian Basin of west Texas and the Delaware Sub-Basin of south east New Mexico. Permex  has a current focus on identifying, evaluating and acquiring oil and natural gas assets in North America and enhancing and developing its currently held oil and natural gas assets in Texas and New Mexico. Permex owns and operates on Private, State and Federal land.

Learn more about Permex Petroleum at Permex Petroleum Corporation | CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange (thecse.com)

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