Volume 2 - October 2012
Ag Showcase Draws Global Innovation Leaders to St. Louis
In September investors, entrepreneurs, industry executives, and government policy makers from around the world descended upon St. Louis for the Ag Innovation Showcase. Now in its fourth year, the showcase has become the premier event for AgTech venture capitalists and corporate strategic partners to connect. Organized by BRDG Park at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Larta Institute, the showcase facilitates dialouge and deal flow between Ag leaders, emerging innovators, and investors in ag-bio, renewable energy, sustainable materials, food production, animal health, and farming technologies. Over the first three years, 73% of presenters found potential investors. These presenting companies have raised $26 million.
St. Louis Startups Raise Series A Funds
Confluence Life Sciences and Kypha have just completed funding rounds. Confluence Life Sciences, a drug discovery company, completed a $4 million Series A fundraising round led by Houston-based venture capital firm DFJ Mercury. Co-investors include Missouri Technology Corporation, Helix Fund, St. Louis Arch Angels and BioGenerator. The money raised will allow Confluence to advance its product candidates of kinase inhibitors to treat cancer and inflammatory disease. Medical device startup Kypha recently raised $1.5 million from local investors Show-Me Venture Fund V, Billiken Angels Network, St. Louis Arch Angels and Holton Capital Group, bringing the total regional investment to $2.5 million. Kypha relocated to St. Louis last year after securing initial investment from the BioGenerator, the Missouri Technology Corporation, and St. Louis Development Corporation. Confluence and Kypha have benefited from the entrepreneurial support system in St. Louis including initial BioGenerator investments and awards of free space in the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs.
Entrepreneur Magazine Ranks Washington University Tops in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Princeton Review ranking of the top 25 undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs in the country has spotlighted the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. The undergraduate program was ranked #5 and the graduate program #6.
Missouri Technology Corporation Funds the Dreams of Missouri Entrepreneurs
The State of Missouri and the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) have long been strong partners in seeding the growth of St. Louis bioscience companies. In particular, MTC’s Innovation, Development, and Entrepreneurship Advancement (IDEA) Funds initiative is a $21 million program that focuses on four areas: TechLaunch, providing pre-seed funding to help high-tech entrepreneurs overcome the principal challenges of launching new start-ups; Seed Capital Co-Investment Fund and Venture Capital Co-Investment Fund, designed to accelerate private investment in Missouri-based start-up companies and increase the overall investment impact; and High-Tech Industrial Expansion Fund, supporting industrial expansion efforts in Missouri that result in significant capital investment and high-paying jobs in its targeted biotech and high-tech sectors. To date, MTC has closed funding on 23 projects totaling $7.5 million. This funding has helped attract nearly $19 million in additional third-party capital.
MTC through the IDEA Funds is a critical co-investor with the BioGenerator and other support organizations. Some examples include: Apse, which is advancing a novel system to produce proteins for agricultural and pharmaceutical applications; RadTargX, which is exploring new approaches to cancer treatment; and Vasculox, which is developing proprietary drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
MTC has an open application round for the IDEA Funds until November 1, 2012 and is planning 2 additional application rounds for January and March 2013.
Looking beyond 2013, BioSTL has worked closely with the State, the Missouri Biotechnology Association, and other statewide partners from Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, and all parts of the state to pass – and now fully fund and implement – the Missouri Science Innovation and Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) as one source of potential funds to continue and expand MTC’s successful programs.
Recruitment of Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Industry Experience Leads to Success for Local Companies
In the last two years, programs implemented by the BioGenerator have supported the creation of 19 new bioscience companies in St. Louis. With this acceleration of new enterprise creation, BioGenerator began recruiting highly experienced start-up CEOs to assist with the ever increasing pipeline and to turn their own ideas into additional startups. The BioGenerator recruited Harry Arader, who has 27 years of life science commercialization experience, as Senior Entrepreneurial Advisor. After learning about the mission of the BioGenerator, the growing support system for startups in St. Louis, and the opportunities in the St. Louis region, Harry elected to move to St. Louis from Chicago and provide leadership to startups in need. Based partly on input and mentoring from Harry, BioGenerator created an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program that has since grown to four EIRs with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.
Once settled in St. Louis, Harry began acting as a mentor for several local companies. In addition, he recently launched his own startup, Companion Pharma, Inc. which is developing medicines designed to increase the lifespan and improve the quality of life for companion animals. Along with an initial BioGenerator investment, Companion has raised $270,000 in seed capital including a $50,000 award in the inaugural round of Arch Grants in May and the receipt of a $60,000 investment from the Missouri Technology Corporation through its TechLaunch program. Harry has also recently started MetaCROM, Inc., a marketing services agency for local life-science Contract Research Organizations (CROs).
News About the Biosciences in St. Louis
- Mallinckrodt swallows CNS Therapeutics' drug pipeline in $100M buyout [FierceBiotech]
- Cortex blueprints sprawling bioscience expansion, eyes 1,400 new jobs [FireceBiotech]
- Mediomics Lands $1M SBIR Award for Biologic Analysis Tool [Genome Web]
- Arch Grants Attracts Entrepreneurs to St. Louis with $1M in 2nd Annual Global Startup Competition [MarketWatch]
- Drought, Food Shortage Cast Spotlight on Ag Innovation Showcase [Forbes]
- Student-Run Consulting Group Aims to Bridge the Gap Between the Bench and Business [Genome Web]
- Three Wash U. scientists land big grants [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Apertus gets OK to make controlled pain drugs [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Helix Center Biotech Incubator Welcomes Two Technology Innovators as First New Tenants [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Sigma-Aldrich® Recognized By Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for Climate Change Disclosure [The Sacramento Bee]
- Veniti came, saw and hopes to conquer the venous industry [St. Louis Beacon]
- Resveratrol supplements may offer little benefit for healthy people [Fox News]
BioSTL and BioGenerator Receive 2012 Mayor’s Award
The St. Louis Development Corporation and St. Louis mayor Francis G. Slay recently recognized BioSTL and BioGenerator for their work by presenting them with a 2012 Mayor's Award. The Mayor's Award is given to organizations that have shown leadership and acted as special catalysts for economic development in the City. BioSTL & BioGenerator were recognized alongside Arch Grants, Capital Innovators, InnovateVMS, and T-REx.
BioSTL Sponsors 2 Awards at StartUp Connection
StartUp Connection’s Annual Showcase and Entrepreneur Resource Fair brought together two key parts of the St. Louis region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: the community of innovative startups and the resource organizations that support them. This year, BioSTL sponsored two awards, $2,000 and $1,000, for presenting bioscience companies. The winner of the $2,000 prize was Dana Fowler of HealthyMe Mobile Solutions and the $1,000 prize was awarded to Matthew MacEwan of Retectix.