QB3-industry biotech startup partnership funds two projects
The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science & Technology (COSAT) has funded two research efforts in a program aimed at creating biomedical startup companies at the University of California.
These are the first projects supported by COSAT through the ongoing Bridging-the-Gap award program at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). COSAT and the Rogers Family Foundation of Oakland jointly fund the Bridging-the-Gap program, which provides nearly $1 million a year for targeted research designed to move projects further along the path to commercialization.
“This is a new model for industry to access innovation as it matures from an academic project to a commercial venture,” said Neena Kadaba, QB3’s director of industry alliances. “Startups are often the most efficient way of getting discoveries to market, and programs like this allow established companies to build early relationships and partnerships with startups as they form.”
The two projects were selected because the research had commercial potential and the lead scientists were keen on starting companies.
The first project, to develop a synthetic capsule for the treatment of Type I diabetes, is directed by Shuvo Roy, associate professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and based on membrane technology used in a prototype artificial kidney invented by Roy.
The second project is a collaboration between Scott Lokey, associate professor of chemistry at UC Santa Cruz, and Matt Jacobson, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF. It combines computer modeling and benchtop synthesis of “cyclic peptides,” which can affect how proteins interact with each other. The research has therapeutic applications.
QB3 provides Bridging-the-Gap winners with services from the QB3 Startup-In-A-Box program, and, potentially, space in the QB3 incubator system (the QB3 Garage/Innovation Network) for spinoff companies arising from the projects.
The nine projects funded by QB3’s Bridging-the-Gap program to date have resulted in five new companies and three licenses to existing firms. The five companies formed in the past two years have raised over $9 million in private and public commercial funding.
In the 2012 Bridging-the-Gap award cycle, the Rogers Foundation has also funded three new projects.