Five Company Success Stories Highlighted at CED Conference
Five “alumni” companies of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development reported major progress at the CED’s Life Sciences Conference in Raleigh.
Precision Biosciences, Baebies, Locus Biosciences, G1 Therapeutics and AgBiome have collectively raised nearly a half billion dollars in capital, hired more employees and advanced new products since participating in the CED’s various support programs for entrepreneurial companies.
A genome-editing spinout of Duke University, Precision Biosciences has grown to 97 employees and expects to hire about 40 more this year, said Mike Nicholson, the company’s chief people officer.
The Durham-based company, which has raised $160 million in capital, is using its ARCUS genome-editing platform to develop treatments for genetic and infectious disease and cancer immunotherapy, as well as better foods. The company recently announced an ongoing partnership with agricultural giant Cargill to reduce saturated fat in canola oil.
Baebies, a Durham-based developer of newborn screening and pediatric diagnostics products, raised $13 M in Series B financing in 2017 and has grown to more than 60 employees, said Richard West, the company’s founder and CEO.
The company’s SEEKER System was cleared for use by the FDA in 2017. SEEKER is a benchtop workstation that tests dried bloodspot specimens for enzyme levels associated with Gaucher, Fabry, Pompe and mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 diseases.
Baebies is also developing FINDER, a diagnostic system for point-of-care use.
The company’s underlying technology uses microfluidics to move fluids with electrical charges instead of pressure.
Baebies received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in 2014.
Locus Biosciences of Research Triangle Park has raised $21 million in two funding rounds and now has 15 employees, said Paul Garofolo, co-founder, CEO and chairman.
The company is using its CRISPR-Cas3 gene-editing technology to develop precision antimicrobials that can combat antibiotic-resistant “superbug” bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae.
The company has five global patents and is involved in more than 80 pre-clinical studies, Garofolo said.
Locus, a 2015 spinout of N.C. State University, was started with the help of two loans totaling $325,000 from the Biotechnology Center.
G1 Therapeutics, a 2008 spin out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “is a 10-year overnight success story,” said CEO Mark Velleca.
G1, based in Research Triangle Park, went public in 2017, raising $108 million in a stock offering after having raised more than $95 million in three rounds of venture capital funding. The Biotech Center provided two early-stage loans totaling $500,000 that Velleca said were “crucial” to positioning G1 for its follow-on funding.
G1 is developing novel cancer therapies for breast, lung and other cancers and has more than 115 U.S. and international patents and pending patent applications.
AgBiome of Research Triangle Park has grown to 85 employees and has raised $52 million in two investment rounds from the venture capital arms of ag giants Syngenta, Monsanto and Novozymes and from other high-profile investors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Through its Genesis gene and strain identification platform, AgBiome analyzes microbes found in and on crop plants and in surrounding soil for their potential use as biological products and as sources of genetic traits that can reduce crop damage and improve yields.
The company recently spun out a new gene-editing subsidiary, LifeEdit, to develop novel applications in human therapeutics and agriculture, said Kelly Smith, who works in AgBiome’s fermentation and formulation operations.