Amgen Offering Golden Ticket for Biotech Startups

golden ticket

Once again, Amgen is accepting submissions for the 2018 Amgen-LabCentral Golden Ticket competition.

As in previous years, the winners get one-year free laboratory space at LabCentral, access to its various shared amenities and services, mentorship by Amgen scientists, and access to talent and expertise across the Amgen network. The call for proposals is open from September 4 through October 19 and finalists will be notified on November 19.

LabCentral is a 70,000 square-foot shared lab space facility in Kendall Square, Cambridge. It is designed to be a launchpad for high-potential life science and biotech startup companies.

Amgen is one of LabCentral’s platinum sponsors, and as such, can nominate up to two early-stage companies each year to use space at the facility. The facilities include fully functional laboratory space, permits, waste handling, and reasonably common laboratory equipment. There is also access to conference rooms, event space, and a kitchen. LabCentral, in addition, hosts programming related to life-science startups. It can accommodate about 200 scientists, and has 54 individual lab bays, and eleven 3-4 scientist “pods” in a shared lab. There are 15 private lab suites of 450 to 1,050 square feet for companies of up to 18 employees, and communal space.

Companies currently in residence include 3DBioLabs, Abexxa Biologics, Affinivax, Akrevia Therapeutics, Cocoon Biotech, Hopewell Therapeutics, Holobiome, Totient and others.

In April 2018, the company that won Amgen’s 2017 Golden Ticket, QurAlis, officially launched with financial support from Amgen Ventures. QurAlis is focused on developing a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was started by Kevin Eggan and Clifford Woolf, two Harvard professors.

QurAlis is developing treatments for three different types of ALS with known disease mechanisms. ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, attacks and kills the nerve cells that control voluntary muscles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 12,000 to 15,000 people in the U.S. have ALS, with about 5,000 to 6,000 diagnosed each year.

The QurAlis launch was also backed by Alexandria Venture Investments and MP Healthcare Venture Management, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, which developed the ALS drug Radicava, which was approved in May 2017.

In a statement at the launch, Kasper Roet, QurAlis’ cofounder and chief executive officer, said, “The participation of MPH, Amgen and Alexandria is an incredible validation for our strategy and brings us closer to bringing innovative precision medicine to ALS patients.”

Applications for the Golden Ticket should include the company mission, targeted market and patient population, any relevant intellectual property (IP), upcoming milestones, including financing, commercialization strategy, management team and anticipated benefits of securing the golden ticket.

After finalists are notified on November 19, they will be scheduled to pitch to an Internal Amgen committee on December 4. And on December 11 there is a “Pitch it for a Golden Ticket” Event with a live announcement of the winners.

Alumni companies from LabCentral include NanKwest, Rubius Therapeutics, Torque, Unum Therapeutics and numerous others.

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