Connecticut Innovations Invests $1.5 Million in Three Bioscience Ventures
Published: Dec 07, 2012
• AxioMx Inc. (Branford, Conn.) - $750,000 CI investment
• CMDBioscience℠ Inc. (Orange, Conn.) - $500,000 CI investment
• Synbody Biotechnology Inc. (Farmington, Conn.) - $250,000 CI follow-on investment
“We continue to build on Connecticut’s strength in bioscience, an industry that the Malloy administration has targeted for growth, by investing in promising companies such as AxioMx, CMD and SBI,” said Claire Leonardi, chief executive officer and executive director of CI. “As they refine their technologies and build partnerships with universities and businesses in the state’s bioscience sector, these companies will continue to expand their operations and create jobs here in Connecticut.”
AxioMx Inc. is an early-stage biotechnology company that is developing a novel approach to synthetically generate affinity reagents, which are fragments of monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to target proteins and are useful in life science research, diagnostic tests and as therapeutics. Its goal is to reduce production time from 4-6 months (with traditional technology) to less than four weeks.
AxioMx is led by an experienced team with a proven track record of bringing technology products to the market, including chief executive officer Christopher McLeod, who previously served as president and chief executive officer of 454 Life Sciences and executive vice president of CuraGen Corporation (a former CI portfolio company); Michael Weiner, Ph.D., the company’s chief scientific officer, who was previously an executive at 454 Life Sciences, The Rothberg Institute and RainDance Technologies, and founder of Affomix Corporation (a former CI portfolio company that was acquired by Illumina in 2010) and GnuBio; and Tom Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing, who previously led genomic sales and marketing groups, and served on leadership/management teams at Beckman Coulter Genomics, Gene Logic and Amersham Life Science (now GE Healthcare).
CI’s investment of $750,000 in AxioMx was part of a $2.5 million investment round also involving Elm Street Ventures and company founders. Following the investment, CI managing director of investments Russell Tweeddale joined the company’s board of directors.
CMDBioscience℠ Inc. (CMD), a tenant in the CI-managed technology business incubator CTech@Science Park at Yale, is a computational biotechnology company that specializes in the computer-enabled analysis, modeling and design of therapeutic protein-peptide interactions. Using CMD’s proprietary and fully validated discovery platform CMDInventus℠, CMD scientists can help partner organizations efficiently identify novel peptide hits, understand the structural basis of protein-peptide interactions, and rationally optimize peptide leads. This groundbreaking technology provides partner companies with the unique opportunity to accelerate peptide discovery, eliminating the need for a shotgun approach to peptide hit identification. CMD recently used CMDInventus℠ to narrow 480,000 peptides down to a focused library of 27 peptides for a biotech client in less than eight weeks. The client experimentally tested all 27 peptides and reported that five of the designed peptides produced excellent activity.
CMD’s management team is led by Joseph Audie, Ph.D., chief executive officer. Audie is a founding member of CMD and is responsible for the scientific discoveries that are the cornerstone of the company’s technology. CI’s $500,000 investment in CMD was part of a $1 million Series A investment round also involving LaunchCapital, Enhanced Capital Connecticut, the Mohegan Tribe, and an individual investor. Previously, CI provided pre-seed funding to CMD. Following CI’s recent investment, CI managing director of investments Daniel Wagner joined CMD’s board of directors.
Synbody Biotechnology Inc. (SBI) is an early-stage biotechnology company focused on advancing a novel drug discovery platform that rapidly and cost-effectively utilizes unstructured, synthetically produced peptides to generate “synbodies” (synthetic antibodies), novel ligands that bind with high affinity and specificity to any target of interest. Synbodies’ binding capabilities and ability to penetrate cell membranes to reach intracellular targets enable them to address many drug targets considered inaccessible with current drug platforms. In therapeutics, synbody technology has the potential to help researchers develop treatments for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular, central nervous system and infectious diseases. Developed at Arizona State University (ASU), the technology has been supported with o ver $10 million in funding to date. SBI is led by a strong team with significant scientific, business and venture capital experience including president Paul Hallenbeck, Ph.D., who previously served as president of two biomedical ventures and was a researcher and senior manager at Novartis, and Kevin Burroughs, Ph.D., SBI vice president of research and development and co-founder, who has been involved in therapeutics research at Neotropix, Wyeth and Novartis.
CI’s follow-on investment of $250,000 in SBI was preceded by an initial investment of $750,000 that CI made through its Seed Investment Fund in March. Daniel Wagner, CI managing director of investments, was named to the SBI board of directors concurrent with CI’s initial investment and continues to represent CI on the board.
The company, which relocated to Connecticut from Pennsylvania following CI’s initial investment in March, has developed collaborations with the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital. The company is participating in the University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubator Program (TIP) and has laboratory operations in incubator space at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
About Connecticut Innovations Inc.
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public corporation providing equity, debt and bond financing and other forms of financial assistance to companies in all stages of the business life cycle, from startup to later stage. CI offers its portfolio companies strategic guidance and collaborations with partners in business, finance, education, government and nonprofit sectors. CI’s initiatives are designed to grow the state’s economic and technology base, and to stimulate business investments and job creation. For more information on CI, please visit www.ctinnovations.com.