BioGenerator Invests $3.5 Million in 22 St. Louis Bioscience Companies

ST. LOUIS – In 2020, BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, invested more than $3.5 million into 22 St. Louis startup companies. These promising new ventures are developing products in agtech, therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health.

BioGenerator is the only investor that invests exclusively in St. Louis companies. The 22 investments are part of BioGenerator’s overall investment portfolio of more than 50 active St. Louis startup companies, comprised of many of the region’s most-promising and fastest-growing companies including Benson Hill, MediBeacon, Arch Oncology, Geneoscopy, CoverCress, and Galera. Nine of those companies earned first-time investments.

“The Covid pandemic presented challenges to our industry, but also created increased opportunity in remote patient care, digital health, and healthcare data analysis,” Charlie Bolten, Senior Vice President of BioGenerator, said. “As we developed concepts around a changing healthcare environment, we also continue to see strong opportunity for St. Louis in our core sectors of therapeutics and agriculture.

“Exits within our maturing portfolio are important to providing the fuel needed to create the next generation of great St. Louis companies,” Bolten said. “With returns from the acquisition of Canopy Biosciences by publicly-traded Bruker, we were able to accelerate our efforts and this was BioGenerator’s biggest year ever in terms of the number of companies we supported. We’re proud to introduce BioGenerator’s robust 2020 investment portfolio that showcases St. Louis’ strengths in innovation.”

Eight of the 22 companies with 2020 BioGenerator investments are led by current or former BioGenerator Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) – talented individuals identified and funded by BioGenerator to build and lead these startups.

“St. Louis has a tremendous opportunity to build innovative startup companies by leveraging its deep strengths in agriculture and food technologies,” said Martha Schlicher, PhD, Entrepreneur in Residence at BioGenerator. “In my role at BioGenerator, I am helping to create new St. Louis companies that address global issues in food production and food quality.”

2020 BioGenerator Investments:

Adarza Biosystems is commercializing a platform technology that can simultaneously detect hundreds of proteins, antibodies, or other substrates from a single drop of blood, providing insight into an individual’s health status. Adarza previously relocated to St. Louis from Rochester, New York when BioGenerator made its first investment in the company.

Aegis Digital Health is building a multi-asset company comprised of high-value digital health products with synergies in marketing, sales, target customers, business models, and across technology platforms. Aegis is led by a BioGenerator EIR.

Atomation is a business-to-business solutions company that uses an innovative Internet of Things (IoT) platform and process to connect existing objects to the internet with proprietary software to capture and turn raw data into useful information, allowing businesses to transform operations and optimize their bottom line. Atomation was recruited to St. Louis from Israel by BioSTL's international recruitment arm GlobalSTL.

Cadex Genomics develops and markets liquid-based molecular assays used by physicians to improve care for their cancer patients. Cadex relocated to St. Louis from Foster City, California with investment from BioGenerator and now works from the BioGenerator Labs.

Cofactor Genomics uses RNA to help clinicians understand, diagnose, and predict drug response, particularly in cancer, that can’t be assessed by DNA alone. Founded by three former Human Genome Project scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, Cofactor has built a proprietary platform capable of performing complex characterization of clinical samples.

CuriMeta is commercializing an advanced real-world clinical data platform. The company empowers its customers – pharmaceutical and medical device companies – to address their most pressing questions in healthcare with greater speed and precision. CuriMeta is led by a BioGenerator EIR.

Daya CNS is evaluating novel, non-opioid drug candidates for acute and chronic pain management in conditions such as cancer, post-surgical recovery, and following serious injury. The company is led by an experienced management team of pharmaceutical industry experts. 

Echelon Med Tech is developing medical devices and other technology to benefit the warfighter. Echelon’s technologies also have high commercial potential in civilian settings. Echelon is led by a BioGenerator EIR and is associated with BioSTL’s new Center for Defense Medicine.

Edison Agrosciences, which previously was relocated to St. Louis from North Carolina by BioGenerator and is led by a former BioGenerator EIR, commercializes innovative approaches for the production of plant-based industrial materials, with a primary focus on renewable sources of natural rubber that can be produced in the US. The global supply of natural rubber (90% of which is from SE Asia) is threatened by multiple environmental and economic factors. Edison was supported as part of pilot efforts that led to BioSTL’s new Center for Defense Medicine.

Healthy Bytes, which relocated to St. Louis from New York with BioGenerator investment in 2019, is a tech-enabled services company that connects Registered Dieticians to employers, providers, and patients, utilizing existing benefit plans to provide nutritional counseling at no additional cost.

Kypha, led by a BioGenerator EIR, is developing technology that provides reliable and timely results in any clinical setting, dram­atically improving the way autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are monitored and treated. Kypha relocated to St. Louis from Louisville, Kentucky with a previous BioGenerator investment, and it acquired BioSensia of Dublin, Ireland in 2018.

Lymbus Oncology is advancing novel therapeutics that will unlock the potential of immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients who do not respond to current therapies. The company’s technology was identified in Hong Kong and brought to St. Louis by Cadre Biosciences, a multi-asset pharmaceutical company developed by BioGenerator and its EIR program.

Myonid Therapeutics is advancing therapeutics for liver diseases and heart failure. Its technology was developed at Saint Louis University and the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis. Myonid is being managed by Cadre Biosciences, a multi-asset pharmaceutical company developed by BioGenerator and its EIR program.

Neurolutions is a clinical-stage medical device company developing a revolutionary platform of neurorehabilitation devices leveraging brain computer interface technology. The company’s first product candidate, the IpsiHand, is being developed for upper extremity rehabilitation in chronic stroke patients. Neurolutions is based on technology invented at Washington University.

New Agtech company in stealth mode, led by a BioGenerator EIR, focuses on new insect control biologics for food crops that will combat the growing number of insects resistant to current commercial products. The company’s programs are designed to circumvent insect resistance mechanisms.

OpenCell Technologies is developing a platform to make cell and gene therapies effective, affordable and scalable. The company is based on technology developed at Washington University. BioGenerator’s diagnostic and medical device umbrella, Synchrony Bio, is incubating OpenCell Technologies.

OxaluRx is developing an oral therapy to treat genetic hyperoxaluria, a potentially devastating orphan metabolic disease of high unmet medical need. OxaluRx was created by RiverVest’s Archer Seed Fund and is led by Walter Smith, former CEO of BioGenerator company Confluence Life Sciences, which was acquired in 2017 by Aclaris Therapeutics.

Precision Virologics has technology from Washington University that will provide the next-generation vaccines required to combat emerging infectious diseases. In Covid-19 preclinical studies, Precision’s vaccines can accomplish effective immunization with just a single nasal spray while also eliminating the need for “cold chain” storage, making it easier and less costly to distribute.

RhoDx is a molecular diagnostics company developing nucleic acid analysis tools for cancer detection in liquid biopsies. The company’s technologies will enable cost-effective, early detection of cancer through population-level screening in pre-symptomatic individuals.

SentiAR is a pioneer in visualization technologies for surgical applications. SentiAR’s CommandEP is the first holographic guidance system to be used during an invasive cardiac procedure, allowing physicians to visualize 3D models in real-time via a wearable headset.  SentiAR was founded based on technology from Washington University.

VaxNewMo is developing technology licensed from Washington University to enable broader and more affordable vaccines in a shorter time frame. The company is using its proprietary manufacturing platform to combat “superbugs.”

WELLTH Holdings grows high-potential, consumer products that provide health, wellness, or well-being benefits by infusing capital, connections, and consumer products expertise.

In a Nutshell:

In 2020, BioGenerator’s largest investments were in CuriMeta, Aegis, Lymbus, and Echelon.

Nine companies received first-time investments:

  1. Aegis Digital Health
  2. Cadex Genomics
  3. CuriMeta
  4. Echelon Medtech
  5. Lymbus Oncology
  6. Myonid Therapeutics
  7. OpenCell
  8. Precision Virologics
  9. RhoDx

Eight companies are led by current or former BioGenerator Entrepreneurs in Residence:

  1. Aegis Digital Health
  2. CuriMeta
  3. Echelon
  4. Edison Agroscience
  5. Kypha
  6. Myonid Therapeutics
  7. New agtech company in stealth mode
  8. WELLTH Holdings

BioGenerator’s 2020 Entrepreneurs in Residence:

  1. Martha Schlicher, PhD – food and agriculture
  2. Chad Stiening, PhD – diagnostics
  3. Paul Olivo, MD, PhD – diagnostics
  4. Davis Walp – healthcare
  5. David Christenson – healthcare
  6. Stephen Von Rump – healthcare
  7. Michael Tones, PhD – therapeutics
  8. Lu Alleruzzo – therapeutics business development
  9. Michael Thomas – defense medicine

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About BioGenerator

BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, produces a sustained pipeline of successful bioscience companies and entrepreneurs in St. Louis by creating, growing and investing in promising new enterprises. Visit www.BioGenerator.org for additional information, and follow us on LinkedIn linkedin.com/company/BioGenerator and Twitter @BioGeneratorSTL.

About BioSTL

Since 2001, BioSTL has laid the foundation for St. Louis' innovation economy with a comprehensive set of transformational programs that advance St. Louis’ leadership in solving important world challenges in agriculture, medicine, healthcare, and other technology areas. BioSTL has introduced nationally-acclaimed initiatives in startup creation and investment (BioGenerator), strategic business attraction (GlobalSTL), physical environment (including the Cortex Innovation District and BioGenerator Labs), entrepreneur support (Fundamentals), seed and venture capital, a diverse and inclusive workforce, and public policy. Find us online at biostl.org and follow us on twitter @BioSTL.

CONTACT

Maggie Crane | 314.422.6783 | mcrane@biostl.org

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