There’s a story going on in biotech venture capital, and it’s about a slow and painful death. Four years after the start of the Great Recession, and after a decade of too much promising and too little delivering, the majority of biotech VCs are struggling to stay afloat. Firms are shutting their doors, forcing partners out in brutal political battles, or quietly fading away as they fail to raise new funds.

This ongoing theme resurfaced in the past week, when I wrote about the demise of Kirkland, WA-based OVP Venture Partners, the $750 million venture fund that has been betting on high tech, biotech, and cleantech companies for 30 years. This firm, like many others, waited and waited for a home run to save its portfolio, but it never happened. For OVP, Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics (NASDAQ:GNOM) was the one that just never came through in the clutch.


Maryland launched the InvestMaryland Challenge today. This is a national business competition that gives seed and early-stage companies a chance to pitch their business and win $300,000 in venture capital funding. Winners can get a $100,000 top prize in three categories: life sciences; IT (hardware and software); and general business. They'll also get access to resources like incubator space and legal services. Applications are due by December 13. Judging will occur in late February and the winners will be announced next March.

Only small(ish) companies are eligible -- ones  with fewer than 25 employees and annual revenues of less than $1 million. The IT and life sciences categories are open only to Maryland-based companies; companies outside Maryland may compete in the general category but if they win they'll have to relocate their business to Maryland


Iverson Genetic Diagnostics has entered into a licensing agreement with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for a molecular diagnostics test, designed to help physicians to assess cardiovascular risk in men and women, and infertility risk in women.

Under the agreement, Iverson gained marketing rights for the product which determines the healthy cholesterol fraction, HDL, and its partner protein, scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI).


This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) issued by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) invites applications to conduct functional analyses of identified genetic variations related to heart, lung, blood and sleep phenotypes, using amenable in vitro or animal model systems. Exploratory/Developmental Phased Innovation (R21/R33) grant applications should identify and justify the genetic variants that they propose to test for functionality, the phenotype(s) the variants are associated with, and the functional measures that will be used to validate them.  This FOA provides support for two years (R21 phase) for research planning activities and feasibility studies, followed by possible transition of up to three years of expanded research support (R33 phase). The total project period for an application submitted in response to this FOA may not exceed five years. This FOA requires measurable R21 milestones. 


GlaxoSmithKline committed to provide researchers with unmatched access to patient-level data from its clinical trials--including studies that failed. The move is among several steps the London-based drug giant announced today to promote open innovation and collaboration with external groups. Yet commentators are skeptical about whether fellow drugmakers will be as bold in opening their data vaults to outsiders.

While GSK is taking an unprecedented step to make its clinical trial data transparent, not everyone is likely to gain unfettered access to its clinical trials info. Glaxo is forming a panel to judge the scientific merit of requests for the anonymous patient data, which is far more detailed than any of the clinical trial information and results posted on the company's website.


With creative funding schemes picking up steam and nontraditional funders taking an interest in biotech, what can universities and start-ups expect in their right first-round financing structure? At the BIO Technology Transfer Symposium, a panel examined various funding sources as well as the factors that influence investment decisions and the ins and outs of early stage financing deals.

William Tucker, executive director, Innovation Alliances and Services, University of California Office of the President, moderated a discussion with:

Ron Lennox,  partner with CHL Medical Partners; and

Dr. Heather M. Snyder, senior associate director with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Medimmune logo

MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, announced today it will present four abstracts at the Influenza Vaccines for the World (IVW) International Conference at the Palacio de Congresos de Valencia, Valencia, Spain, October 9-12, 2012. These abstracts advance the body of existing data and knowledge surrounding influenza vaccination, highlighting MedImmune's continued leadership in helping to improve patient health.


Angel investors funded 27,280 entrepreneurial ventures in the first half of this year, up nearly 4 percent from the number of businesses funded during the same time a year ago.

That's according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. Angel investments in the first six months of 2012 totaled $9.2 billion, a 3 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The average deal size was $336,390.


Supported by a five-year $7.4 million National Science Foundation grant, experts at The Johns Hopkins University are partnering with teachers and administrators in Baltimore City Public Schools on a program to enhance teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and math in city elementary schools by making STEM a community affair.

The program, called STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools – SABES for short — not only will benefit more than 1,600 students in grades three through five in nine city elementary schools, but could also become a national model for science, technology, engineering and math education.


GlaxoSmithKline and the non-profit biotech group Aeras are to assess an experimental tuberculosis vaccine in "proof of concept" tests in Africa and India, marking a step forward in the hunt for new ways to prevent the killer disease.

The partners plan to launch a mid-stage Phase IIb clinical study in Kenya, South Africa and India next year, following successful initial tests with the GSK product, Aeras said on Wednesday.


MedImmune said Tuesday it has inked a deal with two nonprofit cancer institutes that will advance three of the Gaithersburg biotech's antibodies through the clinic.

Under the deal, the Cancer Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, both based in New York, will conduct clinical trials of the early- and mid-stage therapeutics, each of which is designed to harness the body’s immune system to target tumors. The trials will involve combinations of different immunotherapies.


University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship is expanding its annual Cupid's Cup Business Competition to find the country's top student entrepreneurs. Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, partnered with the Dingman Center eight years ago to launch Cupid's Cup and is now taking the competition to a national stage for the first time. Applicants will compete for a transformative prize package including $70,000 in cash prizes, coaching from a team of successful entrepreneurs, in kind services from leading edge companies and the prestigious Cupid's Cup. In an added twist, Plank will grant the 2013 grand prize winner exclusive access to a member of his professional network.


The National Capital Planning Commission has approved final details of the first phase of a $300 million intelligence campus being developed at the former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters in Bethesda though additional details and plans still need to be worked out there.

NCPC Executive Director Marcel Acosta signed off on final portions of the project’s first phase Sept. 28 including landscaping, site security and lighting for the multi-building project at 4600 Sangamore Road. The commission previously voted July 12 to approve the project on the condition that Acosta review the additional details.

Montgomery County ED

 Friday, November 2, 2012

The Gateway to Innovation, a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer presents:

Innovation 2 Commercialization:   Making Tech Transfer Count!    

The full-day conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to:

  • Learn from three panels focusing on Commercialization, Innovation, and Financing; 
  • Speak with exhibitors from federal and academic tech transfer offices, business resources, educational programs, and funding resources; 
  • Conduct on-site 'MeetUps'; and 
  • Join in some great networking!


When many people think of the National Capital region and the businesses that call it home, a handful of industries come to mind. Certainly the largest of which is government contracting.

Between the Pentagon and individual civilian agency headquarters, the Washington, D.C. region is home to a majority of the decision makers and influencers in the federal government. It’s for this reason that contractors with a wide range of specialties, from professional services and staffing, to homeland security and technology, call the area within and around the Capital Beltway home. In addition to these contracting companies are the financial services and banking companies, legal firms and other organizations that service that industry.