Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bioscience View from Southwestern Virginia

There are challenges to developing good lifescience companies anywhere, but they can be reasonably overcome if the basic building blocks are good: good science and good people. Southwestern Virginia is beginning to distinguish itself with an ability to grow and support bioscience in this area.

Several factors play into this ability. First and foremost is a community desire to be successful. Residents of regions such as Hampton Roads or Northern Virginia which is already growing at a good clip don't wake up in the morning with economic development on their minds. In this area, however, leaders from the Roanoke Valley, New River Valley, and surrounding jurisdictions share a common desire to help businesses grow locally and often come together to provide the resources for them to do so.

Recently that desire for economic development has resulted in an increased availability of capital. Lack of money is often bemoaned as a reason why more early stage companies do not grow. In Southwestern Virginia, however, there are active angel and VC networks that seek to get the best and brightest opportunities funded. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Angel Network and the $12 M NewVa fund are two examples of organizations focused on all businesses, including lifescience, and which actively review and invest in small and growing companies.

This area is also fortunate to have as its economic and intellectual pillars the Carilion Health System and Virginia Tech. These two employment and development leaders are key to many of the bioscience and growth initiatives in the region. Virginia Tech, in addtion to being a nationally recognized research university, had the foresight to establish the VT Corporate Research Center which today houses more than 100 companies and 1800 employees in growing technology and life science companies. Carilion, in addition to being a $1.2 B healthcare system with ten hospitals, actively supports growing medical companies, established the Carilion Biomedical Institute, and created Riverside Center in downtown Roanoke as a new 27 acre village for biomedical and business growth within an already successful city.

These factors have helped create a growing stream of lifescience focused companies in this region and an ability to fund and grow many more. For every Luna Innovations, TechLab, Intrexon, and American Biosystems already established here, there are many more small companies just forming and looking for the opportunities that will help them grow into a next generation of successful biotech companies.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Area Life Science Companies Chosen to Make Presentations for Venture Funding at 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio

Fifteen Companies Represent Various Industry Sectors, Stages, and Geography;
Two Virginia Companies on Deck: Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC and DiaKine Therapeutics, Inc.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifteen companies demonstrating the diverse cross-section of the mid-Atlantic bioscience industry have been selected to present before venture capitalists at 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio: TheConference for Industry and Investors, the region's premier biotechnology forum scheduled from October 26-27 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

The majority of companies selected are from the hosting states of Maryland and Virginia, with the balance coming from the two other leading biotech states in the mid-Atlantic, New Jersey and North Carolina. Selected companies represent a cross-section of industry sectors, with most coming from thetherapeutic sector and the remainder focused on the diagnostics and tools categories. Regarding investment stage, most of the presenting companies are from the early/preclinical and clinical stages, with three seeking funding for expansion.

"The principal criterion for the companies we chose was that they be quality companies that represent fundable opportunities reflective of the current interests of investors," said Don Rainey, a partner in the Reston, Va. office of Intersouth Partners, who co-chaired the Selection Committee withMatt Zuga, managing director of Red Abbey Venture Partners, Baltimore, MD.

"The slate of presenting companies provides a glimpse into the entrepreneurial environment of the mid-Atlantic biotech region. We are seeing more seasoned management teams with compelling science, intellectual property, technologies and business ideas which speak to the growth of this industry in the mid-Atlantic region."

"The diversity of the selected companies' investment stage and sectors reflects positively on the growth occurring within the life sciences industry," said Julia Spicer, Executive Director of MAVA. "We are pleased with the quality and strength of the companies that were chosen by our investor-driven selection committee. The Selection process and the overall investor portion of the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio conference was bolstered by the strong leadership and participation of veteran venture capital firms including:Anthem Capital, Boulder Ventures, The Carlyle Group, Emerging Technology Partners, H.I.G Ventures, Intersouth Partners, Maryland Venture Fund, MedImmune Inc., New Enterprise Associates, Quaker BioVentures, Red AbbeyVentures, Tall Oaks Capital, and Toucan Capital Corp."

The companies selected to present at 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio are:

* A&G Pharmaceutical, Inc. (Columbia, Md.)
* Cerionx, Inc (Pennsauken, NJ)
* Cylex Inc (Columbia, Md.)
* DiaKine Therapeutics, Inc. (Charlottesville, VA)
* Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC (Charlottesville, VA)
* GlycoMimetics, Inc. (Gaithersburg, Md.)
* Intradigm (Rockville, Md.)
* MacroGenics (Rockville, Md.)
* MaxCyte Inc. (Gaithersburg, Md.)
* NeoDiagnostix (Rockville, Md.)
* PharmAthene (Annapolis, Md.)
* SCYNEXIS (Research Triangle Park, NC)
* Sensors for Medicine and Science (Germantown, Md.)
* Sequoia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Gaithersburg, Md.)
* TissueGene, Inc (Gaithersburg, Md.)

The conference is a jointly-hosted regional event for the bioscience industry and the investor community, combining components of a regional industry convention and investor conference under one roof dedicated to promoting the growth of biotechnology in the Mid-Atlantic region. Mid-Atlantic Bio is hosted by four of the region's most influential bioscience andinvestor associations: The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA), the TechCouncil of Maryland (TCM), the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VaBIO), and MdBio.

As part of the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio program, executives from presenting companies are participating in several pre-conference programs, including a networking event and a one-day boot camp session to help prepare for the formal presentations before investors. This effort by the organizers was made to encourage collaboration beyond the one-day presentation.

Event information, registration, presentation, and sponsorshipopportunities are available at http://www.midatlanticbio.org/. Additional information is available by calling 703.683.5698.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Medical Device update #1

Intelliject LLC was named one of Richmond's companies to watch at last week's Greater Richmond Companies to Watch (CRCTW) Event. Congratulations to Eric, Evan and the Intelliject team for building value in another Virginia device company. Intelliject is an example of how moving into an incubator can assist a start-up be sucessful. Could it be the right move for your company? If you want to learn more you should check out a series of rountables being sponsored by the Virginia Business Incubation Association :

"Small Business Incubators are an effective community economic development tool. These roundtables will provide a forum for information sharing among incubator staff and board members, local and regional economic developers and PDC staff. The goal is to strengthen existing alliances and to forge new ones in an effort to help promote incubation and in turn job creation and investment in our communities"

Events are scheduled:
OCTOBER 27, 2005
Franklin Business Incubator
601 N Mechanic St
Franklin, Virginia
Cathy Davison

NOVEMBER 3, 2005
@ VATech
2200 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, Virginia
Jim Flowers

NOVEMBER 10, 2005
Fairfax Innovation Center
4031 University Dr
Fairfax, Virginia
Judy Barral

Email Morgan Bird (mbird@franklinva.com) for more information.

If your company is looking for new sensor technologies you may be interested in attending this year's SensorsGov 2005 conference. It's being held will be held on December 6-8, at the new Hampton Roads Convention Center (www.theHRCC.com) in Hampton, Virginia. There are two sessions on Human Health Monitoring on Wednesday (Dec. 7).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

North Carolina's Biotech Money--$25m a Year Forever?

How can Virginia compete with states such as North Carolina when, in addition to the significant public contribution to fund the life sciences, there are also private sector billionaires who are committed to building wetlabs and fund research? In addition to David Murdock's money, the state is on the hook for about $25 million a year... for perpetuity. Here is the link to an article on MSNBC:

That is also the theme of a new article in the Triad Business Journal. Here is a link:

The opening section of the article identifies the remarkable situation in North Carolina:

While Research Triangle Park dominates the biotech scene in North Carolina, the state is eager to build other life science clusters to replace the disappearing manufacturing base. With Winston-Salem's Piedmont Triad Research Park bankrolled primarily by the private Wake Forest University, the state's public universities plan to spend $25 million helping to launch Kannapolis' N.C. Research Campus, and $16 million for operations each year.

Other states are boosting biotech as well beyond their best-known location. While the big tax money in the industry is the billions granted through federal government for research every year, states support the industry by funding infrastructure initiatives in the hope of generating high-paying jobs.

For example, North Carolina's 2005-2006 budget includes $4.9 million for biotechnology initiatives at N.C. Central and N.C. State universities, and $3 million in support of statewide biotech training initiatives, among other projects.
What about Virginia? Here is the next section:

North of the border in Virginia, its biotech capital is also the state capital of Richmond, location of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. The park opened for business in 1995, the product of a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University, the city of Richmond, and the state. Park President and CEO Robert Skunda said Virginia has indeed been trying to grow additional biotech clusters in other parts of the state, including Blacksburg to the west, Charlottesville near the center, and Prince William County to the north.

"Most of the money has gone to the universities (in those areas) to invest in research buildings, that they hope will eventually translate into economic activity in research parks" established by the universities, Skunda said. That amount is substantial, he added, probably totaling up to $100 million over the past decade.

However, direct state funding to help establish research parks around those outlying universities has been "right around zero," Skunda said. As in many other states, he said, the administration of Gov. Mark Warner has been scrambling to overcome budget deficits, making extra funds for park development hard to come by.

"It's going to be very difficult to compete looking at places like Kannapolis," where a private individual will pick up a large part of the startup tab, Skunda said. "It's just phenomenal to have somebody come forward with that kind of commitment. The challenge there will be building the accompanying base of research."
Yikes! Bob Skunda is right about the state's commitment. Rumors continue to fly about Governor Warner's outgoing budget. Will he support any of his own Biotechnology Commission recommendations? Even one?

Monday, October 10, 2005

November 4: First in Life Sciences Luncheon Series in Charlottesville Announced

Biotech Patents and Licensing: First Luncheon in Series Starts Friday, Nov. 4 in Charlottesville

The Virginia Piedmont Technology Council and VaBIO are teaming up to co-host quarterly Friday luncheons in Charlottesville. These informal sessions are targeted at those forging the way in the life sciences -- be it bioengineering, biomedical, biotech, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, or healthcare.

The November Life Sciences Luncheon -- the first in the series -- will feature MaryAnne Armstrong, Ph.D., a partner with the intellectual property law firm Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch LLP, as the guest speaker. Dr. Armstrong will demystify the federal legislation known as CREATE Act, signed into law last December. The act amends existing patent law to permit the patenting of inventions made through joint research among multiple partners if certain conditions are met.

Dr. Armstrong will also provide updates on the intellectual property considerations surrounding the Bayh-Dole Act. In her practice, Dr. Armstrong works with inventors, companies and university technology transfer agents in the fields of immunology, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, biotechnology, medical devices and others.

The event will be held on November 4th, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Connected Communities building, 999 Grove Street in Charlottesville. The event is free for VaBIO and VPTC members. Non-members pay only $15 per person.

Lunch and beverages will be provided thanks to our generous sponsor: Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch LLP.

Register online with the VPTC (sorry, registration has closed as the event is full)

University of Virgina Said to Lag Behind Nation in Biomedical Funding

According to an article in the Daily Progress published October 8, 2005, UVa is said to lag behind the Nation in biomedical funding. The article states that biomedical research funding in the U.S. nearly doubled between 1994 and 2003 and that UVa's research funding increased 49 percent between 1996 and 2005.

To read the full story, click here:


Friday, October 07, 2005

Tim Kaine on Biotechnology

As noted below, we are taking a look at what each of the three candidates for governor have posted on their campaign websites (or in media releases) about biotechnology or issues such as tech transfer, R&D tax credits, venture capital, etc.

The relevant page on Tim Kaine’s site is located here:

On that page, dedicated to economic development initiatives, the Kaine Campaign does not seem to have much listed on biotech, except in one reference to projects in Roanoke. Here is the full quote:

Roanoke and New River Valleys

* Support safety and capacity improvements to Interstate 81
* Invest in Virginia Tech, Radford, and the Roanoke Higher Education Center
* Support biotech research through the development of the Carilion Biomedical Institute, a public-private collaboration of Carilion Health Systems, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia
* Support arts and cultural attractions that attract tourism

There is a separate page dedicated to higher education located here:

Elsewhere on the Kaine Campaign site, we did find a media release congratulating the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park on the Philip Morris R&D facility deal. Here is the link for that:

While the websites may not have much detail on biotech issues, it is clear that the candidates are aware of the challenges faciling the industry. When the lieutenant governor spoke at the 2003 Virginia Biotechnology Summit (pictured above), he was able to draw upon his experiences as Richmond's mayor working with the development of the biotech park. Jerry Kilgore also spoke at that same conference, addressing the achievements of forensic science and Virginia's investments in the DNA database.

While it would be great if biotech-related economic development issues had more prominence in the platforms of the candidates, it could also be a double-edged sword. In some other states, biotech policy has been overshadowed by divisive issues such as cloning and stem cell research.

If anyone has other links to the Kaine Campaign’s biotech agenda, please add it to the comments below.