Volume 1 - September 2012
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the BioSTL Newsletter, a periodic digest about St. Louis' growing bioscience ecosystem.
The St. Louis region is fortunate to have an extraordinary concentration of world-class scientists producing cutting-edge discoveries in the medical and plant biosciences. Community leaders launched BioSTL to increase the region’s capacity to support innovators and entrepreneurs and to champion their efforts. To learn more about the launch of BioSTL, please see our release and a sampling of news coverage on our founding.
This newsletter is one of many ways BioSTL will inform entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policy makers, and others about what's happening in the St. Louis bioscience community. We encourage you to forward this email to others.
For more information, please visit our website, BioSTL.org, and the website of our subsidiary, the BioGenerator, BioGenerator.org. Thank you for reading.
President & CEO
BioGenerator Recruits 4 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence to Advance Existing Portfolio of 30 Companies and to Launch New Additional Start-Ups
Four new Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) have joined the BioGenerator, a nonprofit subsidiary of BioSTL, to create, lead, and support new bioscience companies in St. Louis. The EIRs will work with the BioGenerator's existing portfolio of 30 start-up companies and other companies across the region to further their growth and also with researchers and entrepreneurs to launch new enterprises. Tom Brya, Vijay Chauhan, Nandini Kishore, and Alan MacInnes will expand the capacity of the BioGenerator to support bioscience entrepreneurs as they build their companies, raise capital, and develop their technology for market. To read more about these EIRs, please see our press release announcing their recruitment.
St. Louis Ranked #7 in U.S. for Biopharma
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness cited St. Louis as the #7 Biopharmaceutical Cluster in the U.S. Click here to see the rankings.
St. Louis Earns 2 Competitive National Grants to Accelerate Commercialization
St. Louis was one of six inaugural “i6 Challenge” winners awarded by the Economic Development Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation to reward the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. In St. Louis, the funding provides pre-seed commercialization support to promising bioscience innovations. The region was also awarded one of 20 “Jobs Accelerator” grants to advance high-growth industry clusters that foster job creation, global competition, and regional economic growth.
St. Louis’ i6 Project is a new, regional approach to identifying very early discoveries that with the right assistance, especially from industry experts, can be advanced toward commercial viability. The objective of the winning proposal is to create a more robust pipeline of new bioscience ventures in St. Louis that can potentially grow into significant employers in the future. i6 Project implementation is led by the BioGenerator.
St. Louis’ i6 Project is demonstrating and validating the commercial viability of early discoveries from the region's research institutions as well as other sources of technology. The project employs rigorous commercialization methods, executed and overseen by industry experts, to identify innovations with the most promising commercial potential.
To date, the i6 Project has created 11 new bioscience companies in St. Louis. These companies are pursuing markets ranging from drug discovery contract research to lithium ion battery technologies to the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients to novel pain and cancer medications. The primary end point for technologies supported by the i6 Project was to mature them to first outside funding. Thus far, nearly all of the companies launched through the i6 Project have already secured such funding. Two of the companies have received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards; two others are already generating revenues; and numerous companies secured outside co-investment to leverage their i6 funding.
Below are links to a sampling of the companies launched through the i6 Project.
The St. Louis Bioscience Jobs Accelerator Challenge supports the recruitment of experienced entrepreneurs to support and mentor early stage companies and entrepreneurs; outreach to minority and disadvantaged businesses interested in providing goods and services to bioscience companies; and on-the-job training for newly-created jobs in bioscience companies. The grant is a partnership between BioSTL, the BioGenerator, the Center for Emerging Technologies, St. Louis County Economic Council, the Minority Supplier Development Council, and the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Training Agency, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
3 Bioscience Companies Win Inaugural Arch Grants
Companion Pharma, GraeMatter, and Pharos Scientific each received a $50,000 non-dilutive award during the initial Arch Grants Competition. Companion Pharma was founded by a BioGenerator Entrepreneur-in-Residence and, along with GraeMatter, is also a BioGenerator portfolio company. Companion Pharma and Pharos Scientific are led by graduates of the Bio Entrepreneur Development, or BED, Program. Arch Grants is one of a growing number of groups supporting entrepreneurship and company formation in St. Louis across a range of innovative industries. Such groups include Capital Innovators, Innovate St. Louis, Innovate Venture Mentoring Service, ITEN, and VentureSTL, among others. The expanded activities of these organizations, coupled with increased company formation in the bioscience through organizations like the BioGenerator, played a major role in Missouri’s rise to 6th among U.S. states in the Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited the BioGenerator’s Accelerator Labs in March to highlight the ranking and the State’s commitment to entrepreneurial activities and to visit with entrepreneurs whose companies were launched with investment from the BioGenerator and support of the Missouri Technology Corporation.
New and Expanded Facilities Offer a Range of Labs for Biotech Startups
This summer marked the grand opening of the Helix Center Biotech Incubator sponsored by St. Louis County Economic Council. Additionally, the ITE incubator at the University of Missouri-St. Louis completed upgrades to its labs. These facilities enhance the region’s continuum of available lab space from the shared labs at the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs to additional incubator space at the Center for Emerging Technologies to multi-tenant facilities at CORTEX and BRDG Park science and innovation districts.
For more information about the Helix Center, please see this video, which includes comments from BioSTL President Donn Rubin and BioSTL founding Board Member, Dr. Bill Danforth.
News about the Biosciences in St. Louis
- Genetic Gamble: In Treatment for Leukemia, Glimpses of the Future [New York Times article featuring Washington University School of Medicine]
- Danforth Center Leads $12M DOE Bioenergy Study [Genomeweb Daily News]
- Million Dollar Carrot Dangled As St. Louis Redefines Itself in Tech Start-Up Space [Forbes]
- Sigma-Aldrich to buy BioReliance for $350 million [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Mobius Therapeutics starts shipping glaucoma drug Mitosol [St. Louis Business Journal]
- C2N Diagnostics scores grant for Alzheimer's research [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Theorem Clinical Research, Gallus partner to accelerate R&D [Pharmaceutical Business Review]
- Helix Center Biotech Incubator hopes to nurture life-science startups [St. Louis Beacon]
- Euclises gets $175,000 Arch Angels investment [St. Louis Business Journal]
- EndoStim(TM) LES Stimulation Therapy for Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Receives CE Mark [RedOrbit]
BioSTL Adds Jim Jaacks as Vice President for Finance and Administration
BioSTL announced the addition of Jim Jaacks as Vice President for Finance & Administration to help achieve the mission of promoting economic growth and regional prosperity that capitalizes on St. Louis’ world class medical and plant biosciences.
Mr. Jaacks formerly served as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, and prior to that as Chief Financial Officer, for Mercy Health. Mr. Jaacks joins BioSTL as the young organization’s first Vice President for Finance & Administration. He will also support the work of BioSTL’s nonprofit subsidiary, the BioGenerator, which provides investment funds and management support to launch early stage bioscience companies in St. Louis.
To learn more, please see our press release.
BioSTL Builds Bridges of International Cooperation
St. Louis-Israel BioBridge
Israel is a world leader in technology development and innovation, with 3,000 advanced technology companies primarily in biosciences, homeland security, alternative energy, water technology and agro-technology. Israel has more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country in the world and is third in number of U.S. patents per capita. Several regions and states have established organizations with the sole purpose of facilitating partnerships between their resident companies and Israeli companies or universities and have targeted efforts to attract Israeli companies to establish a US presence in their state or region.
BioSTL, in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Missouri Biotechnology Association, State of Missouri, and Government of Israel Economic Mission to the Midwest, has been exploring ways to facilitate a similar effort for the St. Louis region, under the name St. Louis-Israel BioBridge. Activities initiated by this ad-hoc group have included an inventory of St. Louis company business connections in Israel, attending BioMed Israel, and an information session on competitive BIRD Foundation grants, which fund projects to be jointly executed by a US and an Israeli company. The first St. Louis company to win a BIRD grant was EndoStim, which is collaborating with their Israeli partner on the development of their implantable device to control acid reflux.
To further this effort, BioSTL is organizing a trip to Israel the first week in December, which would include St. Louis companies interested in exploring potential partnerships with Israeli companies. In addition, BioSTL and others from St. Louis will be meeting with Israeli companies who are interested in the possibility of establishing a presence in St. Louis. For more information, please contact BioSTL Vice President, Program Development Marcia Mellitz.
BioSTL Hosts Delegation from Zibo, China
BioSTL hosted a delegation from Zibo, China, led by Mr. Ming Zhuang – Vice Mayor of Zibo and Head of the Zibo National Science Park District, to explore further connections between pharmaceutical companies in Zibo and bioscience startups in St. Louis. The visit included presentations by leading researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Washington University, as well as emerging St. Louis companies. BioSTL was joined by the World Trade Center – St. Louis, the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA), and the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
The delegation visit emerged from an existing partnership between the Zibo science district and BioGenerator company Array Bridge and its founder, Xing Wang, Ph.D.
BioSTL Hosts $5 billion Russian Investment Fund, RUSNANO
The RUSNANO delegation visited St. Louis to learn more about St. Louis’ scientific strengths, especially the region’s strengths in genomics and plant biosciences. During the five-day visit, the Russian delegation met with leaders from BioSTL and its partners, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, BRDG Park, CORTEX, CET and the BioGenerator, as well as leaders from Washington University, Saint Louis University, UM-St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, Monsanto, and a range of start-up companies.
BioSTL Hosts SBIR/STTR Seminar
In June, BioSTL sponsored an intensive, two-day seminar to support start-up bioscience companies and emerging entrepreneurs pursue Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health. The seminar was conducted by Lisa Kurek, Managing Partner of Biotechnology Business Consultants (BBC), a national expert on the topic. Past attendees of this training seminar have funding success of 2-3 times the national average. The seminar presented a highly organized “How to” approach for strategizing, conceptualizing, writing, and submitting successful SBIR/STTR applications.
Seminar participant Rick Dorshow from start-up company MediBeacon said, “With this 2-day course, I feel that I can apply for SBIR phase I grants with some confidence. It has been worth much more than the registration fee.”
“Great program! I feel much more prepared to submit a SBIR/STTR to NIH in the next year,” said Craig Welbaecher, founder of Emergent Sensor Technologies.
Based on the success of this seminar, BioSTL plans to host additional SBIR trainings for NIH and other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Department of Defense. The next seminar will be hosted on October 2-3. To learn more about how to participate, contact Sarah Kogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.