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New Arrivo: Triangle Pharma Wizards Put $49M to Work

Here they go again.

A group headlined by blazingly successful life science rainmaker Steve Butts, MBA, is hanging out a shingle in Morrisville, this time with $49 million in early funding support. They’re calling it Arrivo BioVentures.

It’s the latest in a string of drug development companies co-founded by Butts, this time with partners Bill Wofford, Michael Ackermann, Ph.D., MBA, and Stanford University sleep specialist Jed Black, M.D.

Butts and attorney Wofford were members of the management team that led successful investor exits of three previous local drug companies: Aerial BioPharma, Neuronex. and Addrenex.

NCBiotech supported serial entrepreneurship

Addrenex was launched in 2006, and three years later sold to the Japanese global pharma company Shionogi for $29 million. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center helped bootstrap Addrenex with a $25,000 start-up loan and a $135,000 Small Business Research Loan.

Neuronex was founded in 2010 and was awarded nearly $500,000 in NCBiotech loans. It sold a short time later in a multi-million-dollar merger agreement with New York-based Acorda.

Then, a few short years after starting Aerial, the founders sold the company’s clinical-stage narcolepsy drug to Ireland-based Jazz Pharmaceuticals for a possible $397 million.

Black, therapeutic area head for sleep at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, will serve as a scientific advisor to Arrivo.

Arrivo to focus on four to six drug candidates

The founders say the new company will use the funding to develop four to six new drug candidates over the next several years. Consistent with the management team’s previous companies, Arrivo’s team will source and acquire development candidates in or ready for the early stages of human clinical trials and move the projects through clinical proof-of-concept and the next significant valuation inflection point.

“We are excited about the next evolution in our business model,” Butts said. “We will continue to look for development programs that improve patient care and provide opportunities to minimize the clinical development and regulatory risks. However, our new model with more drug candidates will give our investors greater diversification, and ultimately even more chances for development success.”

Jazz Pharmaceuticals is the lead investor in the financing, with Solas BioVentures Fund I, L.P., Rex Health Ventures and private investors also participating. Committed capital will be accessed over the next five years to fund development projects as they are identified, in-licensed and initiated by Arrivo.

“We are very pleased to continue our long standing relationship with this outstanding management team,” said David Adair, Managing Partner of Solas. “The Arrivo operating team has a demonstrated track record of advancing valuable new treatments for patients through the drug development process.”

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