San Francisco’s Rock Health startup accelerator held its fourth semi-annual Demo Day at UCSF’s Genentech Hall Wednesday afternoon. Investors and journalists heard pitches from 14 startups working to introduce new health-related services for consumers and new ways to improve the efficiency of the U.S. healthcare system.

On the consumer side, one intriguing presenter was Beam Technologies, which is building a toothbrush embedded with motion sensors to detect how long a person has been brushing. A Bluetooth radio sends the data to a smartphone app. (Perhaps it should have been called the Bluetoothbrush.)


Some of Silicon Valley's most prominent billionaires are making a big push to guide the tech world's entrepreneurs into biotech.

Backing the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences are Yuri Milner; Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki; and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

Fittingly, they're making the announcement at the University of California at San Francisco's Genentech Hall, a building named after one of the Bay Area's biotech standouts.


The University of Maryland's Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program today announces it is awarding $4.7 million to Maryland university researchers to help 16 local companies develop technology products.

The projects, which team companies with universities across the state, include gene-silencing for cancer treatment, a new cardiovascular diagnostic device, advanced chemical detection, distributed heating and cooling, fertilizers and soil amendments made from both fish waste and other mixtures, agricultural stormwater treatment, an heirloom tomato juice production system, temperature-detecting gel, a drug to treat lung fibrosis, advanced oyster seeding system, electronic baseball home plate, mobile solar milk chiller, and both a vehicle and sensor technology for inspecting bridges.


The “valley of death” is a common term in the startup world, referring to the difficulty of covering the negative cash flow in the early stages of a startup, before their new product or service is bringing in revenue from real customers. I often get asked about the real alternatives to bridge this valley, and there are some good ones I will outline here.

According to a Gompers and Lerner study, the challenge is very real, with 90% of new ventures that don't attract investors failing within the first three years. The problem is that professional investors (Angels and Venture Capital) want a proven business model before they invest, ready to scale, rather than the more risky research and development efforts.


Life sciences research is a strong economic driver, even if it leads to few patents

As the economy continues to flounder, many cities are looking for ways to replicate Silicon Valley's financial success. When seeking to catch the magic of those biggest successes — Apple, Google and Facebook — the word "innovation" gets thrown around frequently. And as intellectual property is taking on a larger and larger role in how companies do business in the Bay Area, many have equated innovation with patents.

A recent Sun article about innovation in Baltimore and Maryland focused on just that. It lamented that the Baltimore metro area came in 116th out of 360 metro areas for the number of patent applications per capita, and that the number of patents granted to Baltimoreans remained flat over the past decade. The article seemed to suggest that this lack of intellectual property growth was at least partially responsible for Baltimore's lack of job growth.


Montgomery officials are under no illusions about the county’s image among the Washington region’s young: boring.

“We’re a little sleepy,” said County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda). “We go to bed early.”

For all its prosperity and family-friendly suburban appeal, Montgomery is in the throes of a midlife crisis. That angst has led to a new item at the top of the public policy agenda: a yearning to be hip.

Johns Hopkins University

On Friday, the Department of Defense announced that it has awarded The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory a five-year, sole source, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity task order contract to conduct research, development, engineering, and test and evaluation work for programs "throughout the Department of Defense."

The contract envisions Hopkins scientists performing up to 11,964,743 staff-hours' worth of research and development work through September 2017. Work would be performed in "core competency" areas such as "strategic systems test and evaluation; submarine security and survivability; space science and engineering; combat systems and guided missiles; theater air defense and power projection; and information technology (C4ISR/IO), simulation, modeling, and operations analysis."


The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University's nationally recognized entrepreneurship initiative, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the #4 Best U.S. Graduate Entrepreneurship program per the Princeton Review.

In its 13th year, 42 teams from around the world will compete on campus April 11-13, 2013 for more than an expected $1 million + in cash and prizes in front of over 250 judges, primarily venture capitalists and other investors.   More than 1200 teams applied to compete in 2012 and the competition was supported by more than 130 sponsors.   More than 133 past competitors have successfully launched their business after competing at Rice, are still in business today, and have raised more than $480 million in funding. 


The Department of Health and Human Services SBIR/STTR grant solicitation aimed at supporting small business innovation research is now available.

Through the PHS 2013-02 SBIR/STTR Omnibus Solicitation, U.S. small businesses are encouraged to submit investigator-initiated SBIR/STTR grant applications in response to a variety of identified topics related to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the Administration for Children and Families.

The SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 and the recently released SBIR and STTR policy directives have brought about numerous – and often times, complicated – changes. In an effort to keep the small business research community aware of the impending modifications, the NIH has set up a new website providing a detailed overview of its implementation plan. In addition, HHS intends to revise or re-issue the Omnibus solicitation later this year. To stay informed, download a copy of the current solicitation and request to be updated as changes are made.


Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) dropped by Rockville on Monday for lunch with the Montgomery County Council, where much of the hour-long meeting focused on the looming federal government sequester.

Mikulski said she realized the effect across-the-board spending cuts and furloughs of federal workers could have on the county, home to 17 agencies, 32,000 employees and the many contracting firms that work with those agencies. There has been little recent movement on avoiding the sequester on Capitol Hill.


Innovate Health Tech NYC invites software and hardware developers and other innovators living or working in New York City to create new commercially viable technologies that solve urgent health care problems. Individuals, teams, and companies with 10 or fewer employes can compete, and will be required to demonstrate a functioning prototype of a pre-commercial technology in their submission. Technologies may include, but are not limited to, healthcare analytics tools, clinical workflow management tools, mobile health applications, and wireless health monitoring devices. Contestants are encouraged, but not required, to address healthcare priority areas identified by New York City.


PILOT Health Tech NYC is an exciting new program which provides funding of up to $100,000 each to 10 innovative pilot projects to take place in New York City. The program seeks to match early-stage healthcare technology companies ('innovators') with key NYC healthcare service organizations or individuals ('hosts'), including hospitals, physician clinics, payors, pharma companies, and nursing associations. Each pilot project will be focused on addressing defined needs of the healthcare industry and testing a technology prototype in a healthcare setting for a period of approximately 3-6 months.


United Therapeutics Corporation announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged the resubmission of the new drug application (NDA) for treprostinil diolamine extended release tablets (oral treprostinil) for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. The FDA classified the resubmission as a complete, class 1 response to FDA's October 23, 2012 complete response letter and the FDA set a user fee goal date of March 31, 2013.

Qiagen lilly

Diagnostic products maker Qiagen NV said Wednesday that it will work with Eli Lilly and Co. to develop new tests that could identify patients who could be helped by Lilly's drugs.

The companies did not disclose terms of the new collaboration, but described it as a "broad" partnership that will cover "all therapeutic areas."


A piece in Forbes this week calls attention to a recent trend in technology commercialization at universities: the use of crowdfunding.

The article focused on a collaboration between the University of Utah’s Technology Commercialization Office and the crowdfunding site RocketHub, which resulted in the University Tech Vault, a portal specifically for projects that come out of the university.


As Valentine’s Day approaches the occasion begs the question: what does it take for two companies in the biopharmaceutical industry to merge? Of all the things that could come between them, how do a biotech startup and suitable partner find each other in this crazy, mixed up world?

Like any good marriage, the reasons that bring a couple together span of a good merger is more than meets the eye. The companies involved share similar goals and work hard to ensure the union endures. But there are all sorts of things That was the gist of an insightful panel discussion at the BIO CEO conference in New York. Among the panelists were: Michael Margolis, a managing director with ROTH Capital Partners, Effie Toshav, partner with Fenwick & West H.Thomas Watkins, former president and CEO of Human Genome Sciences until it was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, Michael Gilman, a senior vice president at Biogen Idec and Corrine Epperly, the director of strategy, alliances and transactions at Bristol Myers-Squibb (NYSE: BMS)


The Cambridge Innovation Center, a longtime fixture of the Boston-area startup scene, is expanding its entrepreneur-friendly office space business to new cities—just as it continues to build a larger footprint in its hometown.

The CIC, which rents office space and related services to more than 500 companies in seven floors of a building near MIT, has been advertising for a general manager at a new Baltimore location. And CEO Tim Rowe says that’s not the only place the CIC is eyeing for a possible expansion.


The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development said 71 startups that entered its InvestMaryland Challenge have been selected from more than 250 applications to advance to the competition's next round.

Eventually, three companies will win $100,000 and a chance to pitch their business to potential investors.The $100,000 prizes will be awarded in three categories: life sciences, information technology and general business.


For years, U.S. life-sciences startups have sought to avoid some of the problems in their industry–including a scarcity of investment funding and a sometimes-daunting regulatory process–by raising funding or commercializing overseas.

Nowadays, foreign organizations and governments are the ones making the overtures, hoping that American life-sciences companies can create jobs and stimulate the life-sciences industries in their countries.


Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE: EBS) announced today that a member of the company’s senior management team will provide a corporate overview presentation at the Cowen and Company 33rd Annual Health Care Conference in Boston on Monday, March 4, 2013 at 3:30PM Eastern.

A webcast of this presentation will be available both live and by replay, accessible from the Emergent website under “Investors”.


The steady departure of pharmaceutical industry jobs in recent years has helped other states, but hurt the standing of the nation’s medicine chest. As more companies take root in far-flung locations, the New Jersey and New York City region has dropped significantly in the national ranking of life sciences markets, according to a recent report on commercial real estate.

Last year, the region slipped to seventh place among metropolitan life sciences clusters from second place in 2011, according to the latest annual report from Jones Lang LaSalle, the commercial real estate firm. The reasons cited for the slide: ongoing consolidation following big mergers and the simultaneous efforts among such cities as San Diego to offer competitive environments.


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has announced $10M in funding for up to 10 new awards in FY2013.

The Phase IIB Bridge Award is designed to support the next stage of development for promising NIH-funded SBIR Phase II projects in the areas of cancer therapeutics, imaging technologies, diagnostics and prognostics, or interventional devices.


A University of Maryland, College Park fundraising campaign that began in 2006 has reached its goal of $1 billion.

It was the largest fundraising drive ever undertaken by a public institution in the Washington and Baltimore region and the largest campaign of any public university in Maryland.

The school said it raised $1.008 billion from nearly 130 million individuals, companies and foundations, including 125,000 alumni.


We all know that venture capitalists help entrepreneurs create and grow great companies. Those great companies create jobs and improve our standard of living. Yet what many don’t realize is that the traditional venture industry is consolidating.

Washington area private firms, such as New Enterprise Associates, Grotech, New Atlantic Ventures and Novak Biddle, that raise money from third-party investors are becoming fewer and farther between, with just over 500 such firms in the U.S. last year. Yet, our country’s most promising start-ups continue to get funded in part because of the rise of corporate venture capital.


Startup Maryland (, a state-wide initiative FOR Entrepreneurs…BY Entrepreneurs, today announced a partnership with CoFoundersLab ( to provide the Maryland entrepreneur community with a free way to find a co-founder/business partner.  To meet this need Startup Maryland and CoFoundersLab combined efforts and brands to develop a TeamFinder portal – which is also unveiled today as a new Resource at:  

The branded TeamFinder portal is the first component of Startup Maryland’s Connection initiative.  Connection joins Celebration, Coaching and Capital as four primary Areas of Concentration for Startup Maryland throughout 2013 and beyond.  These four guiding initiatives were officially announced last week at a White House reception during which Startup Maryland highlighted past successes and future plans for Presidential advisors and officials from several government agencies.

Vaxin Inc., a clinical stage vaccine development company today announced the appointment of David Brake Ph.D. to its Board of Directors.

“Vaxin has a long history of product development in animal health. It will be great to have someone with David’s expertise in this area joining our Board,” said David J. Drutz, MD, Vaxin’s Chairman. “Vaxin has significant ongoing collaborations with Drs. Henry Baker and Nancy Cox at Auburn University in the development of a vaccine to sterilize dogs and cats and with Dr. Haroldo Toro also at Auburn University in the development of influenza and other vaccines for poultry. We now have someone to help provide valuable product development and business insights on these initiatives.”


Startup Maryland (, a state-wide initiative for Entrepreneurs … by Entrepreneurs, will be recognized today during a White House briefing that corresponds with the two-year anniversary of the Startup America Partnership, a national entrepreneurship initiative in which Startup Maryland is a leading region.

Startup Maryland co-chairs Julie Lenzer Kirk and Michael Binko will join officials from Startup America, entrepreneurs from other high-performing regions, as well as Region Champions from three startups that represent the rich diversity of Maryland’s innovation economy:

  • Brian Murphy, founder/CEO of Smith Island Baking Co. (
  • David Troy, CEO of 410Labs Inc. (
  • Johnny Shockley, Co-founder, Hooper’s Island Oyster Aquaculture Co., (


The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) was recently named as the 5th "Best Value in Public Colleges" by Kiplinger, trailing only the College of William and Mary, the University of Florida, the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Maryland was ranked 5th for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state.

The annual Kiplinger study bases its ranking on a combination of financial factors, including total cost-per-year and cost after need-based aid for in-state students, total cost-per-year and cost after need-based aid for out-of-state students and average debt at graduation. Kiplinger also factors in the schools' admission rates and four-year-graduation rates.


US venture capital (VC) funding in the life sciences sector, which includes the Biotechnology and Medical Device industries, dropped 14 percent in dollars and 7 percent in deals during 2012 according to a new PwC US report, "Double-digit dip" that includes data from the MoneyTree™ Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.  Venture capitalists invested a total of $6.6 billion in 779 Life Sciences deals during the year, compared with $7.7 billion in 836 deals during 2011. The number of Life Sciences companies receiving VC funding for the first time reached the lowest level since 1995 with only 135 companies receiving funding in 2012.

Compared to the prior quarter, Life Sciences venture funding rose 11 percent in Q4 2012 to $1.9 billion. Deal volume also increased, rising 12 percent to 187 deals compared to the prior quarter.


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the British pharmaceutical company, reported lackluster fourth quarter earnings for 2012 this morning, with a 3.5% drop in revenue. But the company’s performance would have been much worse if it hadn’t successfully avoided a looming threat that every brand-name pharmaceutical maker faces from time to time: the end of a patent on a blockbuster drug.

GSK’s Advair inhaler (called Seretide in most of Europe and India)—used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—lost its patent at the end of 2010. Ordinarily, a cheaper, generic version of a patented drug comes out shortly after the patent expires, and the generic quickly eats away at the marketshare and revenue of its branded progenitor. But Advair still brings $8 bln in sales to GSK, making it the third highest grossing drug worldwide. The only other off-patent pharmaceutical in the top ten is Lipitor, used for treating high cholesterol, which earned its maker, Pfizer, less than half as much in 2012 as it did in 2011, the year its patent expired (in spite of Pfizer’s unprecedented campaign to keep Lipitor a top-seller by strategically slashing prices).


Congressman Michael Honda (D., Calif.), who has been representing Silicon Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past 12 years, recently submitted a bill asking for Congress to create and fund a new office at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would be called the Office of Wireless Health.

The office would be tasked with regulating the growing number of mobile, wireless health gadgets and applications, which have been proliferating wildly since the start of the smartphone craze.


Julie Lenzer Kirk, Executive Director of the Howard County Economic Development Authority’s Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and Co-Chair of Startup Maryland, will brief White House officials during an event intended to celebrate entrepreneurship and the Startup America Partnership. The briefing, by invitation only, will be held at 3 p.m., February 5 at the White House.

The Startup Maryland team was invited to share how their efforts have developed over the past year, as well as highlight the group’s themes and areas of concentration for the future. As one of the most active state-based regions over the past year, Startup Maryland has attracted more than 500 startup participants in the eight months since officially launching. In addition to Kirk, other Maryland participants include Startup Maryland Co-Chair and CEO of kloudtrack®, Mike Binko; Brian Murphy, founder/CEO of Smith Island Baking Co.; David Troy, CEO of 410Labs, Inc; and Johnny Shockley, Cofounder of Hooper’s Island Oyster Aquaculture Co.