Vical Developing Vaccine for Swine Flu, Acadia’s Stock Almost Doubles on Biovail Deal, Qualcomm Launches Business Plan Contest, & Other San Diego BizTech News

5/11/09Follow @bvbigelow

Although the financial meltdown has hit San Diego’s venture community pretty hard, Lux Capital’s Larry Bock says he made his most-successful investments during the biotech nuclear winter of the early 1990s. So what areas of venture innovation seem promising today? That’s what Xconomy is here for, my friends. Read on.

— Serial healthcare entrepreneur James Sweeney sees a wave of innovation coming in the field of wireless healthcare, and it might be worth listening to what he has to say. As Xconomy’s Juha-Pekka Tikka reported, one of the eight healthcare companies he founded was CardioNet, which is now regarded as the first commercially successful wireless health company in the United States. Sweeney will discuss his vision for wireless healthcare this Thursday morning at the Convergence Summit organized by San Diego’s Wireless Life Sciences Alliance at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.

—For a company locked in a proxy fight, San Diego’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) did a good job last week of showing it doesn’t need billionaire investor Carl Icahn to cut its costs or to advance new drug products. Amylin said Monday it plans to lay off 200 sales reps, or 11 percent of its global workforce, as part of a sales reorganization. On Tuesday, the diabetes drug developer said it had submitted a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for exenatide, its once weekly drug for type 2 diabetes.

—The price of shares in Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD) more than doubled on Monday, when the San Diego biotech said it stands to get as much as $395 million in milestone payments from Biovail, Canada’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical. Acadia’s stock lost some of its altitude through the week, closing at $1.81 a share on Friday, after trading above $2.60 a share Monday. Acadia has scheduled a conference call this afternoon to discuss its Q1 financial results and drug development programs.

—San Diego’s Vical (NASDAQ: VICL) said it is nearly ready to begin producing a prototype vaccine for the H1N1 influenza, aka swine flu . In a Q1 conference call Thursday, Vical CEO Vijay Samant said the company should be ready to start making vaccines this week that are suitable for clinical trials. “We are talking of production time of six to nine weeks rather than six to nine months with conventional vaccines,” Samant said.

—Spectrum San Diego is ready to introduce its CarScan technology next week at the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration conference in Stafford, VA. Spectrum’s founding CEO Steven W. Smith, who is an expert in digital signal processing and ultra-low level X-ray emissions, told me the car-scanning technology he developed produces clearer images of interior compartments by combining two different types of ultra-low level X-ray emissions. Motorists can remain in the car while it’s being scanned.

—Reva Medical, which got $42 million in venture capital in 2007 after clawing its way back from near death when the market for its metal stent collapsed, is preparing to move to human studies of its fully dissolvable cardiac stent. CEO Robert Shultz told Xconomy’s Denise Gellene the clinical trial will likely include 300 to 500 patients and take two years to complete. While his company is behind competitor Abbott Labs in the race to market, Shultz says he feels Reva is in the right position in an untested market.

San Diego venture investor Larry Bock, principal organizer and a primary sponsor of the San Diego Science Festival, told me that getting to know every science community in San Diego has been one of the best sources of venture deals he’s ever experienced. Bock also said now is an ideal time to invest in startups, despite the collapse of financial markets worldwide.

—San Diego-based data backup and recovery company BakBone Software said it paid $350,000 to acquire the assets of Santa Clara, CA-based Asempra Technologies earlier this week. What BakBone did not say was that Asempra had received more than $41 million in venture funding to develop its technology.

—As a privately held antivirus software developer, San Diego’s Eset doesn’t have to report its annual sales revenue. But Eset CEO Anton Zajac told me the company’s Q1 sales amounted to $60 million, and he expects the company could do $180 million or more in 2009, up from $112 million last year. Zajac said during the conficker worm attacks, Eset’s sales tripled. Zajac, a former theoretical physicist, once told me he had developed a computerized model to help predict the company’s growth.

—San Diego’s Qualcomm said its corporate venture fund has set aside $550,000 to provide early stage funding to the most-promising plans submitted by entrepreneurs around the world. Qualcomm Ventures will select a semi-finalist from China, India, Europe, and North America. The four semi-finalists will each receive $100,000 in funding and an invitation to Qualcomm Ventures’ CEO Summit in San Diego in November to compete for a Grand Prize. There are no entry fees, but Qualcomm’s rules require participants to pay for their own travel and accommodations.

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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