The nonprofit volunteer mentoring organization is inviting all Richmond-area entrepreneurs and start-ups (new businesses up to one year old and that haven’t won money or tangibles in a business competition in the same time frame) to apply as contestants. Nonprofits also are encouraged to apply.
“Participants’ presentations will be evaluated by a distinguished panel of Richmond business community leaders” said Art Mattox, a SCORE mentor and the competition spokesman.
All contestants will submit a written analysis of their business idea by the end of February. During March, the judges will select six semifinalists, who will present their business models Apr. 26. Judges then will select three finalists, who will make their final presentations at Virginia Biotechnology Research Park May 17.
The first-place prize includes $5,000, plus one year of free office space at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building on East Franklin Street. Second place will be awarded $2,500 and third place, $1,000.
All contestants will be teamed with a SCORE mentor who can guide them through the process and, if requested, will continue to provide support after the competition.
“The competition isn’t really as much about the money as it is giving a business or startup the boost it needs to get to the next level” said Mattox. “Win or lose, all contestants will receive valuable guidance on maximizing the potential of their businesses and an opportunity to forge a productive, long term mentoring relationship with one or more expert SCORE Mentors”.
In the past twelve months, Richmond SCORE has helped more than 900 local entrepreneurs and supported the creation of more than 400 new jobs.
Applicants may register for the competition online beginning Jan. 3 by visiting http://www.richmond.score.org. The number of contestants will be limited. A $50 fee will be required at registration.
Training sessions for participants are planned for early February.
Of those, 12 also have landed backing from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
The companies, located in 13 communities across the state, will use the money to develop new products, hire employees and buy equipment and materials.
The program provides state grants to match federal funds awarded through the highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Those federal programs help companies develop new and innovative technologies that have high potential for commercialization.
Data show that the One North Carolina program helps young technology companies survive and remain in North Carolina. Since the program’s creation in 2005, 85 percent of grant recipients are still in business, and 98 percent of the surviving companies are still based in North Carolina, according to the state.
Reflecting North Carolina’s strengths in bioscience, 86 percent of the awards this past quarter went to businesses in this sector: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, general medical, medical software and hardware, and advanced materials.
Several of the funded companies have previously received loans from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to support their research, development and business activities.
The Office of Science, Technology & Innovation, part of the N.C. Department of Commerce, is still accepting grant applications for the 2017 fiscal year. Eligible applicants must receive a federal SBIR/STTR grant between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
The program awards funds on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are exhausted. For additional information, see the current solicitation.
One NC grant recipients
(Those with * have also received NCBiotech funding)
That’s the business mission of a new Wilmington company, Optima BioEnergy, that is aiming to capture renewable natural gas from swine manure that would otherwise decay and pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.
The company’s first project, undertaken by its limited liability company Optima KV, will generate natural gas from 60,000 hogs at three farms in nearby Duplin County, the heart of North Carolina’s 9-million-hog pork industry. The gas will be sold to Duke Energy to generate electricity.
“Optima is excited about this partnership with Duke Energy and North Carolina swine farmers,” says Gus Simmons, a partner in Optima KV who designed the biogas system. “Our on-farm digesters will integrate with and support the farmers’ existing operations. By centralizing the gas processing, we can take advantage of cost efficiencies and provide carbon-neutral fuel for Duke’s existing power plants. It’s a great benefit for the environment and for the economy.”
The project will be the first of its kind in North Carolina to inject renewable natural gas into the natural gas system, says Mark Maloney, founder and CEO of Optima BioEnergy.
The project will benefit from $6.5 million in federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) that reduce interest rates on debt for energy-conservation projects. Maloney says the North Carolina Biotechnology Center helped the company acquire unused QECBs.
“The Biotech Center has been tremendous in supporting Optima KV,” Maloney says. “They have assisted with introductions, referrals and assistance in obtaining QECB allocations from neighboring counties who were not using theirs.”
Operational by Summer 2017
Construction of five waste digesters on the Duplin County farms is expected to begin in December and be completed by June 2017, Maloney says.
The digesters will be situated in large pits called lagoons that hog farms use to store animal waste. The lagoons will be covered to keep oxygen out.
The oxygen-free environment will allow anaerobic bacteria to grow and feed on the waste. As the bacteria digest the carbon in the manure, they will give off methane, or natural gas, and carbon dioxide.
Pipes and pumps will carry the captured biogas to a central facility where it will be cleaned and injected into the natural gas pipeline system.
Duke Energy will burn the gas at two power plants in Wayne and New Hanover counties, generating 11,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power about 880 homes annually.
“We see continued advancement in this technology in North Carolina,” says David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “This project has environmental benefits and is cost-effective for our customers.”
The power will be carbon neutral compared to the emissions that would result if the hog waste was left to decay using current methods, Duke says.
North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), enacted in 2007, requires utility companies to generate certain amounts of their electricity from renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and biomass. A small fraction of electricity must be derived from swine and poultry manure.
North Carolina has about 2,100 hog farms and 5,700 poultry farms. It is the nation’s second largest pork producer and third largest producer of broiler chickens.
In March Duke Energy announced another swine-waste-to-energy project with Carbon Cycle Energy of Boulder, Colo. Duke will burn hog-derived biogas at four power plants in North Carolina.
Set on 152 acres in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, the nonprofit institute is a pillar of Alabama’s biotech industry and, beyond that, a global leader in genetics and genomic technology.
HudsonAlpha brings scientists, entrepreneurs and educators together to collaborate at one site. The campus includes more than 30 bioscience companies, is responsible for almost 1,200 direct and indirect jobs and has an estimated $1.3 billion impact on the state economy.
Among the institute’s latest projects is an effort to identify genetic diagnoses for children with intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. The project recently hit a key milestone when it diagnosed more than 100 children, and the work continues.
Also this fall, HudsonAlpha played host to about 200 top researchers from around the world for the fourth annual immunogenomics conference. Immunogenomics involves the intersection of immunology and genomics and explores ways human genomes interact with disease.
“Traditionally, we study the genomic DNA you get from your parents to see if you have genetic diseases and mutations, but this is different,” said Dr. Jian Han, a faculty investigator at the institute and organizer of the conference. “Rather than study the DNA from your parents, we are studying your genomic DNA interacting with the environment, and that is your immune system.”
“Everything is related to the immune system,” he said. “Our immune system is the smartest and best doctor around, and if we can learn from the best, we can be better.”
Han, who came to the U.S. from China in 1986 and earned a doctorate in medical genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has started four molecular diagnostic companies, all in Alabama.
He credits HudsonAlpha for fostering an attractive environment for biotech entrepreneurs like himself.
“HudsonAlpha offers a lot of benefits, such as access to next-generation sequencing technology and access to a wonderful community that is so supportive. There are a lot of angel investors willing to take a risk and invest in our ventures, which allows us to hire scientists and technicians,” he said.
In addition, the institute is supportive of spinoffs and flexible when it comes to licensing technology and other financial terms.
Han has sold two of his companies, while the other two, iCubate and iRepertoire, are based at HudsonAlpha.
“We often get asked, ‘Why Alabama? Why not the Bay Area? Why not Boston?’ because of the biotech clusters that are there,” Han said. “But people don’t realize Alabama also has a biotech cluster, ongoing research at a high level, a low cost of living and a wonderful environment.”
HudsonAlpha President and Science Director Richard Myers said the immunogenomics conference, as well as others held at the institute, not only showcase its assets to a wide and diverse audience, but they also put Huntsville and North Alabama in the international spotlight.
“The researchers who attend the conference, spend time at HudsonAlpha, tour the area and dine under the Saturn V rocket are very impressed with all we have to offer, and we want them to share those experiences when they return home. We enjoy seeing them return to the immunogenomics conference as well,” he said.
The fifth immunogenomics conference will take place Oct. 2-4, 2017.
For Greg Cooper, the institute has provided the perfect backdrop for his work in diagnosing children with unexplained neurological conditions.
Cooper is a HudsonAlpha faculty investigator who is involved in the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) project, which is helping end a diagnostic odyssey for many families.
Some conditions, such as Down syndrome, have an obvious genetic cause. But there are other overlapping symptoms and disabilities that also have a genetic origin, and they are not as easy to pinpoint.
“With genetics, we’re hoping to go after those underlying causes,” Cooper said. “A major advancement has been our ability to go from looking at whole chromosomes to being able to look at every bit of those chromosomes. CSER looks at whole genome sequencing to look at every piece of a child’s genetic code.”
And while the diagnoses don’t come with a cure-all for the children, they do offer direction on medication, therapies and support groups. Parents say that simply having an answer is invaluable.
David and Miranda Ainsworth of Florence spent eight years going to countless doctor appointments searching for a diagnosis for their daughter, Anna Brooke. In February, she was diagnosed through the CSER project with Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS), a rare genetic developmental disorder.
“This has been such a long journey for us, and we were just thrilled to have an answer,” Miranda Ainsworth said. “We can deal with whatever, but to get an answer that puts it all together, this is what we needed. We needed that for our family.”
CSER is funded by a National Institutes of Health grant, and Phase 1 will end next year. But HudsonAlpha is applying for Phase 2 funding to continue the work. Most of the children involved are from North Alabama, but some hailed from other parts of the state and surrounding states. More than 100 children, and counting, have been diagnosed.
In a similar effort, the institute is partnering with Alabama’s Children’s Rehabilitation Service and recruiting families from South Alabama to participate.
“I never dreamed 10 years ago that we’d be using genetics on a daily basis and actually be doing something that not only was contributing to our general knowledge about how genetics shapes our health, but in fact contributes in a very direct way to a particular person or particular family,” Cooper said.
“It’s very gratifying to make these kinds of discoveries, and it’s also motivation to work harder.”
Bio economic development
HudsonAlpha also provides other services to the community in the form of genetic testing. A current effort, a partnership with Kailos Genetics and Redstone Federal Credit Union, is free breast and ovarian cancer genetic testing to 30-year-old men and women living in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan counties.
HudsonAlpha, which opened in 2008, was designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development.
Its mission is fourfold:
“The unique collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb across both NASH and HCC will ensure that we are able to further provide the hepatology and oncology community with important insights across multiple conditions affecting the liver, especially as these conditions continue to develop into growing public health issues,” said Meg Powell, Pharm.D., CEO of TARGET PharmaSolutions. The impact of the TARGET platform will help pharmaceutical partners better understand multiple elements of disease etiology, treatment modalities, and outcomes.
TARGET-NASH’s first patient enrollment occurred August 1, 2016. The company plans on enrolling up to 15,000 patients, at up to 100 sites worldwide. TARGET-HCC’s first patient enrollment is set for Q4 2016. The company plans on enrolling up to 5,000 patients worldwide, at up to 75 sites in the US and Europe.
TARGET PharmaSolutions was formed in February 2015 and currently has four disease communities: TARGET-NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), TARGET-PBC (primary biliary cholangitis), TARGET-HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma), and TARGET-IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). The TARGET model is based on the success of HCV-TARGET, a case study in Hepatitis C. Formed in 2011 by Drs. Michael Fried, MD (University of North Carolina) and David Nelson, MD (University of Florida), HCV-TARGET has enrolled over 10,000 patients and has generated data that has been used by physicians, payers, and regulatory agencies around the world.
About TARGET PharmaSolutions
TARGET PharmaSolutions is a privately held clinical data company that provides pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners a more efficient way to generate data that can be used to better understand the natural history of diseases, including treatment outcomes in the real world setting. TARGET PharmaSolutions is based in Chapel Hill, N.C. For more information, visit www.targetpharmasolutions.com.
The organ transplant solutions company announced the acquisition Wednesday, saying Vivo’s unique technology will add to LifeNet’s growing emphasis on personalized medicine.
Founded in 2004 by cancer researcher Raj Singh, Vivo Biosciences created and patented its HuBiogel technology, which Singh likens to a glue used for holding cells together. The cells bounded by HuBiogel are developed into tumor models, which Vivo then uses to test drug efficacy and toxicity.
According to a release, LifeNet Health will fold the HuBiogel tech into their newly created Life Sciences division, which will focus on personalized medicine. Vivo’s tumor models can help drive down costs for pharmaceutical companies testing new drugs.
“These advances will enable researchers to better predict which medicines will be effective in fighting diseases such as cancer, saving time in treatments for patients,” said Rony Thomas, president and CEO of LifeNet Health. “We hope we can give physicians and drug companies better ways to develop, and predict the effectiveness of current drugs and drugs in the pipeline.”
Vivo Biosciences regularly collaborates with UAB on cancer tumor research, and LifeNet says they have no plans to end that relationship. Singh will also stay on with LifeNet.
“LifeNet Health can now provide the strategic infrastructure, support and direction to bring our valued technology to the marketplace and to patients,” Singh said in a release.
Based out of Virginia, LifeNet has facilities in North Carolina, Florida and Washington. It provides a range of transplant solutions like organ procurement and cellular therapies.
The partners seek to genetically modify cells to stimulate release of GP96 in order to activate dendritic cells and induce an immune response, which can be directed against cancer or infectious diseases. In 2013, researchers at the university led by Natasa Strbo showed a GP96 vaccine generated an immune response in the mucosa, and led to a 73% reduction in the risk of viral infection in macaques challenged with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The Journal of Immunology published the results.
Wolf said that basic research for the Zika vaccine will take place at Strbo’s lab and Heat will perform translational work.
Heat has formed a subsidiary, Zolovax Inc., to exclusively develop GP96-based vaccines targeting Zika, HIV, and other infectious diseases. Heat has GP96-based vaccines in clinical development for lung and bladder cancer. Wolf declined to disclose milestones for the Zika program.
“Start-up companies are focused on advancing their research,” said Opus Biotech cofounder Dan Eramian, “but unless they can compellingly articulate the value of their unique stories to investors early on, they risk leaving their technology in the lab.”
Eramian and cofounder Charles Craig have a combined four decades experience in public relations, investor relations, government affairs and reputation building.
“Start-up companies live in a highly competitive environment,” said Craig. “They must prove now not only that their science works, but also convince a price sensitive health care system to adopt it.”
Eramian served as the first vice president of communications for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) during the industry’s transformation from fascinating science to global health care innovator. He has managed challenging communications and investor relations at public and private biotech companies and served on their management boards. Eramian was also chief spokesman for two national federal agencies, the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration.
Craig has been on the front lines of the biotech revolution as president of Georgia Bio and as a writer, editor and communicator for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), BioWorld Today and annual Ernst & Young Global Biotechnology Report. During his 30-year career, he also worked as a writer and editor for mainstream newspapers, magazines, and television news.
For more information on Opus Biotech Communications visit www.opusbiotech.com and contact Dan Eramian at 425-306-8716 email@example.com; and Charles Craig at 404-245-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Over the last four years, axial has curated the country’s most comprehensive database of evidence-based best practices for pain treatment,” said Nancy Brown, Venture Partner at Oak HC/FT. “The rate of opioid misuse, abuse or overdose underscores the need for a smarter, information-driven approach to pain treatment that payers, providers and patients can use. axialHealthcare has pioneered evidence-based pain management solutions and is leading the way in addressing barriers to safe and effective pain treatment. I am excited to join their Board of Directors to continue to solve these issues.”
John Donahue, chairman and CEO of axialHealthcare, said, “We are excited to welcome Oak HC/FT into the axial family and look forward to leveraging their extensive healthcare expertise. Oak HC/FT’s funding comes as we build out our operational and clinical teams, continue to innovate and enhance our capabilities, and move to operationalize on our substantial pipeline of clients. We look forward to continuing our mission to mitigate opioid misuse and improve the care and well-being for patients in chronic pain.”
Pain treatment is a $330 billion annual spend category for payers and has escalated into an epidemic as opioid use has increased 400 percent in the last 10 years. In response to this situation, axialHealthcare was founded in 2012 to identify and address the drivers of poor clinical outcomes and escalating costs of pain management. The company has since assembled the nation’s largest data repository of patient pain claims and outcomes, as well as created the only evidence-based criteria for pain clinics.
axialHealthcare’s suite of pain management capabilities includes: predictive analytics; a decision-support platform that delivers pain population analytics, provider dashboard and content, network performance monitoring, and PharmD consultation for providers; and the nation’s only mobile patient app for patients experiencing chronic pain. axialHealthcare’s team of physicians, pharmacists, scientists, technologists and healthcare operators are uniquely positioned to ensure that patients in pain are provided with personalized, evidence-based care from informed practitioners. The company began deploying its pain care offerings with industry-leading client partners last year.
Under the terms of the offering, the Company will sell approximately 17.3 million shares of its common stock at a purchase price of $0.81 per share, which was the consolidated closing bid price of the Company’s common stock on October 11, 2016.
The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund clinical development and other research and development activities and for working capital and general corporate purposes.
The shares of common stock described above are being offered directly by GTx without an underwriter or placement agent pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Such shares of common stock are being offered only by means of a prospectus, including a prospectus supplement, forming a part of the effective registration statement.
This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities described herein. There shall not be any offer, solicitation of an offer to buy or sale of securities in any state or jurisdiction in which an offering, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.
GTx, Inc., headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecules for the treatment of cancer, including treatments for breast and prostate cancer, and other serious medical conditions.