Biotechnology, Drug Development, Featured, Medical Device, SDBN Blog »

INNOVATION: Finding the way from ordinary to extraordinary

Posted by Jessica Yingling June 12th, 2012 .
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The biggest question in entrepreneurship is how does one take an idea and make it reality, make it something that’s tangible and positively affects an individual and society as a whole. This was the theme at March’s SDBN networking event with Organovo, sponsored by Invetech.

Invetech helps companies translate innovations into breakthrough products.  They work with diagnostics, life sciences, medical devices, industrial, consumer and clean-tech industries.  Based in Australia, Invetech opened an office in San Diego in 2008 and has worked with a number of local companies including Organovo.

From idea to solutions – focus on the need

From what seems science fiction, Organovo has developed a 3D bioprinting technology that can create fully functional human tissues; winning numerous innovation awards, including recognition by Time and MIT Technology Review. Organovo’s 3D human tissues better recapitulate human biology, a critical need for advancing medical research and improving patient care.

Organovo’s 3D bioprinting platform has built a number of tissue types including blood vessels, lung, liver and kidney tissues, nerve guides and cardiac sheets and patches.  The technology is able to architect, without the use of scaffolding, 3 dimensional anatomically correct tissues with integrated microvasculature that can respond to biomechanical and soluble stimuli.  This structural organization of the multiple cell types typical to tissue composition results in tissue-level responses and physiologic processes found in native biology.

These tissue constructs have many applications including disease modeling, discovering new drug candidates, testing therapeutics for safety and efficacy and investigating complex human biology questions.  Ultimately, this technology offers the opportunity to create tissues used as direct therapies.

Innovation is a team effort

Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology was pioneered by Professor Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri, who is also Organovo’s scientific founder.  To advance the technology to a commercial product, Organovo selected Invetech as their technology development partner because of their sophisticated engineering and automation expertise that protected Organovo’s intellectual property, allowing Organovo to focus on its’ key competency in cell biology.

Because 3D bioprinting has so many applications, an important component of Organovo’s strategy resides in developing partner relationships. The company currently has collaborations with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, and leading research institutions, including Harvard Medical School and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

Innovation doesn’t just happen in the lab

Organovo recently went public with a $15.2 million private placement and is listed on OTCQB under the symbol “ONVO.”  The company was initially funded with angel money and grants.

During this event, Keith Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Organovo, shared some of his insight into the mindset for becoming a successful start-up business owner and what should be part of an entrepreneur’s toolkit.

His tips include:

  1. Take what is around you and find the best possible application for those tools
  2. Plan to weather the storm in your personal finances
  3. Realize that failure is an option but that’s ok, it can be riskier to stay in your comfort zone forever
  4. The best opportunity for angel funding comes from references from your existing network
  5. The four most important words for a successful entrepreneur: network, partners, money, team (not necessarily in this order)

Watch where you are watching

Invetech shared the story about “The Invisible Gorilla Experiment.”  If you have not seen it, click here to view the video and read more about the experiment. Invetech’s point about innovation is to make sure that when you focus on the details, you must also take a step back to focus on the big picture.  Otherwise, you may miss something…something that could be the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.


Invetech will be at Connect with CONNECT on June 21st.

Organovo will be at BIO International Convention in Boston.  Organovo currently has open positions.



Diagnostics, Drug Development, Drug Discovery, Featured, SDBN Blog »

San Diego’s Biotechnology Companies: Who’s Taking Off?

Posted by Lara March 8th, 2012 .
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Image Courtesy Flickr User JoF

Here at SDBN we’ve been updating our directory of 400+ San Diego biotech companies.  We were surprised to find close to 40 companies removed from the local scene – due to acquisition or shut down.  But we also found a net gain in companies, with 68 added. We’ve begun to add some of the ‘provenances’ of new companies, as well as what’s happened to those that are no longer listed, and welcome your comments and additions as well, please leave them as a comment below. Note that some companies are not new, we just missed them in our original directory and wanted to feature them in this post.

Updates to San Diego Biotechnology Company Directory

Company Status Details
1060 Discovery Engineering Added
Adnavance Removed
ALARIS Medical Systems Removed Now under Cardinal Health
Alere Added Acquired Biosite
Altair Therapeutics Removed Shut down
Amira Pharmaceuticals Removed Acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb
Amplyx Pharmaceuticals Added
Aperio Added
Applied Proteomics Added
Aragon Pharmaceutical Added
Astute Medical Added BioSite spinoff
AvantGen Added
Avelas Biosciences Added
Azco Biotech, Inc. Added
Balboa Bio Removed
Bio Applied Technologies Joint, Inc. Added
BioAtla Added
Biocept Added
BioLaurus Added
BioMedica, Inc. Removed
BioSettia Added
BioSite Removed Acquired by Alere
Biotix Added
BPS Bioscience, Inc Added
Calmune Corporation Removed
Carolus Therapeutics Added
Cebix Added
Crinetics Added Started by ex-Neurocrine employees
CryoCor, Inc. Removed
Diverse Diagnostics Removed
Dx Innovations Removed
Elcelyx Added
Enigma diagnostics Added
Essentialis Added
Etaluma Added
EuMederis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Added
Expedeon Added
Genetex Added
Genofi Added
GenTarget Inc, Added
GenVault Added Existing, missed in original directory
Harbor Biosciences Added Changed name from Hollis Eden
Helixis Removed Acquired by Illumina
HemaQuest Added
Hollis-Eden Removed Changed name to Harbor Biosciences
Iapyx Medical Removed
Icx Biosystems Removed
IDM Pharma, Inc. Removed Acquired by Takeda 2009
Inception Sciences Added Amira spinoff
Inhibrx Added
KFx Medical, Inc. Removed
Kinagen, Inc. Added
Kinexis, Inc. Removed
Kyowa Hakko Kirin California, Inc. Added
LeGene Biosciences Added
LiquidGrids Added Previously known as Swarmology Added
MediVas LLC Removed
Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc. Removed
MO BIO Laboratories Added Existing company missed in original directory
Molecular Response Added
Mpex Pharmaceuticals Removed Name change to Rempex
Nacalai usa Added
NeoMPS, Inc. Removed Now part of PolyPeptide Group
NeuroGenetic Pharmaceuticals Inc. Added
Novalar Removed
Nventa Removed Merger with Akela Pharma, Inc March 27, 2008
Oceanside Pharmacuticals Added
Orbigen Removed
ORQIS Medical Corporation Removed
PAGEgel, Inc. Removed Merged with Expedeon/Protein Discovery
Paramount BioSciences, LLC Removed
Pegasus Cleanroom Services Added
Perry Scientific Removed Acquired by Absorption Systems
Pfenex Added
PharmaCircle Added
Phenometrics Added
Phenomix Removed
PliCare Therapeutics Added
ProteinLabs Added
Rebexsess Added
Rempex Pharmaceuticals Added Name change from Mpex
Renascions Added
SeaSpine Added
Serametrix Added
SG Biofuels Added
SGX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Removed As of 2008, acting as subsidiary of Lilly
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Removed
Sonexa Therapeutics Added Added
Sova Pharmaceuticals Added
Strategic Enzyme Applications Added
Tanox Removed
TargeGen, Inc. Removed Acquired by Sanofi-Aventis
Targeson Inc Added
Theragence Inc. Added
TheraKem Removed
Torrey Path, LLC Removed
TorreyPines Therapeutics Removed
TrovaGene Added
Tulip BioMed, Inc. Removed
Ultimate Labs Added
Vasgene Removed
Verus Pharmaceuticals, Inc Removed
ViaCyte Technologies: Stem Cell Engineering Added
VivaMab, LLC Added
West Wireless Health Institute Added
Zacharon Pharmaceuticals Added

A recent report suggests evidence that the San Diego biotech scene is going strong. Released in December 2011 the Life Sciences Cluster Report by Jones Lang LaSalle rates San Diego #7 in the global biotech clusters.  The report examines global locations for viable industry hubs, and defines a “cluster” by a multiple data points including:

  • Educated workforce
  • Venture and investment capital
  • Centers of excellence and innovation
  • Industry-friendly political structures
  • Institutions of higher learning
  • Target economic development incentives
  • Patent protection
  • Other associations and supporting infrastructure

Ranking in the top 10 for funding – third in VC and sixth for NIH funding – it seems that the money is rolling in for San Diego. The 97-page study says San Diego’s dense concentration of incubator and start-ups is expected to continue growth in the near future.

Each of the submarkets reviewed – UTC, Torrey Pines, Sorrento Mesa, and Sorrento Valley – experienced growth in 2011, aside from Sorrento Mesa being almost completely leased.  The report forecasts continued recovery in rents, vacancies tightening and, due to a lack of new development, re-positioning of older properties to meet demands for higher quality facilities, particularly in Sorrento Mesa.

Additionally, Torrey Pines, San Diego’s largest submarket, has seen a resurgence of growth, with more life science companies acquiring larger spaces. The report states that in 2011 Verenium signed a deal larger than Torrey Pines has seen in two years.

NIH grants have increased 28 percent from 2010 and by 70 percent from 2008.  The outlook is sunny for San Diego in 2012, with a continued increase expected in the number of start-ups and dispersal of capital from venture capital and government funds.

A PDF of the complete report can be downloaded here.

Thanks to Flickr user JoF for this image of gliders taking off and landing at Torrey Pines, where many San Diego life science companies also ‘take off.’


Biotechnology, Featured, SDBN Blog »

Getting a Scientist’s Attention at #SLAS2012

Posted by Lara February 14th, 2012 .
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sdbn, san diego biotechnology network, slas, society for laboratory automationNow that SLAS 2012 has wrapped up, the question is, amid all of those robotic arms, who truly stood out? We saw some great examples of vendors who were able to draw the crowds, while showcasing some pretty cool technology.

Here’s a list of some great ways to get a scientist’s attention, wonderfully demonstrated by three life science vendors at SLAS 2012.

  1. Creativity counts. Rather than a bunch of cylinders and valves scattered about with some brochures on a table, Clippard center-staged an Air Guitar, rigged to be played.  How does this awesome display work?  Through 62 miniature air cylinders, and 58 valves to control those cylinders that can play each string individually or by strumming all six strings at once.  ”Playing songs that are impossible by the human hand,” says Rob Clippard from Clippard Instrument Laboratory Inc.,”the controls are as up to date as the idea itself.”  The iPad app “Pianist” plays the song, sends it via midi protocol to a translator board, and tells the miniature pneumatic, low wattage Clippard valves to turn on and off at the right times and move the appropriate cylinder with 50 psi of air.  Did you get all that? That’s ok – the guitar is cool, the technology and idea are innovative and unique, and you can learn all about what they have to offer once you’ve been hooked.  Here’s a video of the Air Guitar in action.
  2. Product? What Product? Though I have a soft spot in my heart for robotics and laboratory automation, as a recent defector from a Drug Discovery lab, even I can glaze over a bit after the 10th or 11th robotic arm display.  But, I loved how Agilent showcased their nimble technology, by bringing a bit of Vegas to SLAS.  The pull to stay at the booth was not only the cheering crowd encircling the game, but the fact that as soon as you step into the booth, you receive a poker chip.  An invitation to have some fun, and no need to talk to a rep first?  You got me. After hours of wandering the aisles a distraction is highly welcome.  Odds that someone will remain in your booth for a bit are good at this point, and I did as soon as that chip hit my hand.  Microtiter plates covered with playing cards lined the stacker.  Agilent’s Direct Drive Robotic arm swiftly dealt three people their hands of 21, amid cheering scientists waiting their turn.  After the game, the robot dealer gave you a microtiter “card” that informed you of your prize.  For the sake of some great word of mouth for Agilent, I hope that what happens at SLAS doesn’t stay at SLAS…?
  3. Tap into competition. Though a large sign announced Artel’s Pipetting Olympics (grand prize iPad2!), what caught my eye as I strolled past, were scientists super – super – into pipetting.  And a line of them waiting their turn.  Pipetting?  Ok, I knew it must be worth my wait –  without even knowing what I was lining up for, I was there with bells on.  All of this was to showcase their calibration and volume verification systems, which they did well.  Scientists were excited, engaged, and most importantly, listening to the reps explain how the system works and how it can work for them.

We hope to see even more engaging tactics by vendors as they continue reaching out to all aspects of a scientist’s interests.  Thanks for a great conference and see you next year!



Biotechnology, Conferences, Drug Discovery, Featured, SDBN Blog »

Focus on San Diego: Life Science Conferences Spring 2012

Posted by Mary Canady January 31st, 2012 .
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Image courtesy of user leighty (Ryan Leighty) on Flickr

This spring San Diego downtown will be buzzing with scientific discussions as our city hosts a number of major scientific symposia.  We are excited to attend and soak in all the science that will be shared during these two months.  Our own Mary Canady will also be participating in a panel discussing on the triumphs and trials of Transitioning from Academia to Industry at the Annual meeting of the Biophysical Society on Tuesday, February 28, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM.

We hope that you are planning on attending at least some of these events, and to help you plan your attendance, we outline below pertinent information about each conference:

Name Date LinkedIn event page Twitter account Twitter hashtag Tweetup or Event
2012 Society for Laboratory Automation & Screening 2/4- 2/9 @SLAS_org #SLAS2012 No*
Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting 2/25- 2/29 @BiophysicalSoc #bps12 No*
IBC’s Biopharmaceutical Development & Production Week 2/27- 3/2 @ibcusa #BDPWeek No*
American Chemical Society 3/25- 3/29 @ACSNatlMtg #ACSSanDiego Follow @pidgirl for details
Experimental Biology 4/21- 4/25 @expbio #EB2012 TBD

*SDBN may host a tweetup if none will be planned by meeting organizers.  Stay tuned.

The spring will be exciting for science in San Diego, add our Google calendar to yours so you won’t miss out on any local events. We hope you can set aside some time to take advantage of the presence of these major conferences in our city, we’ll be posting updates if you can’t. Some of the conferences have free or reasonable exhibit hall passes, and we’ll also post after hours events on our Facebook page so you can do some networking.

Comprendia is giving free social media consultations for your life science business, contact us to schedule one while you’re in San Diego.