Obama’s Stem Cell Reversal Sparks Deals, Qualcomm’s MediaFLO Revealed, Nokia’s Wireless Mapping, & More SD BizTech News

3/16/09Follow @bvbigelow

President Obama’s reversal of federal funding restrictions on research using embryonic stem cells prompted some interesting commentary last week, along with some related developments among local startups. We also have news about the expanding world of mobile media and wireless mapping technologies, so read on!

—No one is expecting immediate and widespread changes after the Obama Administration re-opened the door to federal funding for stem cell research, but some Xconomists say it represents an important new opportunity.

One of the most perceptive commentaries I’ve read about the shift came from Seattle Xconomist Randall Moon, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Washington, and a co-founder of Fate Therapeutics.

—San Diego’s Fate Therapeutics, which is developing drugs to spur stem cells into action, said last week it has recruited a couple of renowned scientific leaders to its roster. The company named Ken Batchelor, a former senior research executive at drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), as its chief scientific officer and Dan Shoemaker, previously chief scientific officer at San Diego-based ICx Biosystems to be its chief technology officer.

—Amid the burst of stem cell news, the timing also was ideal for Stemgent to announce it has raised $14 million in venture funding. The startup based in Cambridge, MA, and San Diego specializes in providing reagents and other materials for stem cell research labs.

—We also had a spate of news on the wireless front. After touring the San Diego-based network operations center of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile TV service, I was impressed with MediaFLO’s ability to provide live news and sports coverage. It would be interesting to see what might happen if Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) MediaFLO could broadcast an extended sporting event—say all the games of the NCAA’s college basketball tournament.

—At the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, CA, the Finnish mobile communications giant is amassing a vast database of information about the comings and goings of cell phone users. This could prove important as Nokia and San Diego’s Qualcomm move forward … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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