The Climate for Early-Stage Life Sciences Startups—And 12 Companies Seeking Weather-Proof Investors

4/1/09Follow @bbuderi

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3 years to aid development of cancer therapies, cancer imaging technologies, and cancer diagnostics. Beylin said the program, which requires at least a 1:1 match by a third party investor, corporate partner, foundation, state fund, etc., saw a 30 percent spike in applications last December. The first projects funded under the program will be announced soon.

—On the positive side of the ledger, this is great time to hire talented, qualified (even over-qualified) employees in the life sciences. Real estate is also far cheaper. Steinmiller pointed out that space in Cambridge was out of the question for Claros not so long ago. Now it is at least possible. “Not that we want to be in Cambridge,” he quickly added.

—-Entrepreneurs seem to be getting more creative in a down economy. Sandoski said he had seen a doubling of interesting things coming in his door.

—Coming wave of M&A. Big Pharma, medical device companies, and other large concerns are already on the prowl, sensing bargains in cash-strapped startups. Said Sandoski in our pre-conference call, “What I hear from folks is pretty much everybody’s for sale.” Berke, meanwhile, predicted the demise of 30 percent of biotechs and venture firms.

Towards the end of the session, I asked the panelists for take-home advice–should entrepreneurs hold off on their plans in the current climate or plow ahead? No one thought they should put their ambitions on ice, but Berke did say if entrepreneurs are able to incubate their ventures for six months longer in the safe haven of a medical school or university lab, they might find a better climate to come out in.

That said, none of the companies presenting seemed to want to go that route. They were looking for funding—now. Here’s the list of those firms, in alphabetical order, including the university or program each company is associated with, the core contact, and an excerpt of the company’s self description from the conference program (you can find last year’s presenters here):

Acetylon Pharmaceuticals (Harvard University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
Walter C. Ogier, business founder
walter.ogier@verizon.net

“Acetylon is focused on development and commercialization of next generation, selective, small-molecule Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors with enhanced therapeutic efficacy and tolerability versus current alternatives.”

AugmentRx Medical Technologies (University of Vermont)
Stuart K. J. Smyth, president and CEO
Augmentrx.skjs@gmail.com

“AugmentRx was created to manufacture, license and market a new class of bioceramic materials that are microporous and are not brittle.”                   … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • http://n/a arlene arky

    This is the best informative site that I get all day long. It does not have all the same information that all the other sites send out every day. The writing is excellent.

    I wish I was in Boston for this meeting and yes there are exciting new waves of science coming through that will break barriers.

    Thank you for the positive attitude about numerous topics that you share all week.

    Virtual companies have limitations. You need people to bounce things off with and who wants to keep on traveling that much any more to vendors?

    Arlene