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VC in Louisville: What’s the Number?

How much venture capital went into Louisville-based companies during 2014? I’m not sure. But, listed below are several reported amounts.

According to this WSJ interactive map of Venture Capital Investment by State, Kentucky–the whole Commonwealth–received $23.1M in 2014.

The National Venture Capital Association reports in Investment Data by MSA for 2014 that the Louisville, KY-IN MSA ranked 54th out of 160 MSAs with five (5) deals receiving $46.01M.

According to the BioEnterprise Midwest Healthcare Growth Capital Report, Louisville had two (2) healthcare companies raise a total of $51M.

State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) has a table Venture Capital Dollars by State, 2009-2014 which indicates Kentucky had thirteen (13) deals receiving $47.4M.


When I do my own check of Dow Jones VentureSource–throwing in Crestwood, KY–I come up with four (4) companies raising a total of $9.25M.


So what is the real number? I have no idea.


Two additional data points…

From the Kauffman Foundation in Six Myths About Venture Capital Offer Dose of Reality to Startups in Harvard Business Review article; “VC financing is the exception, not the norm, for startups. Historically, less than 1% of U.S. companies have raised capital from VCs.”

However, “University spin-offs that receive venture capital funding have a 20% to 26% higher likelihood of commercialization compared with spin-offs that do not,” according to Christopher S. Hayter in Harnessing University Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth.



Startup or Scaleup?

The latest State Entrepreneurship Index created by a University of Nebraska economist has received a lot of attention in Kentucky.

State of Entrepreneurship

Each state index is calculated from five datapoints; 1) percentage growth in business establishments, 2) per capita growth in business establishments, 3) business formation rate, 4) patents per thousand residents and 5) average non-farm proprietor income. “The combination is designed to reflect key elements of an entrepreneurial climate: business startups and failures compared to population, innovation and income.” Kentucky rose 45 spots in the 2013 index to fourth best “entrepreneurial climate” in the United States.

I’m all for innovation, entrepreneurship and startups.

Research from the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, Private Equity: Top States and District in 2013, was recently featured on CNBC. According to that research, Kentucky was not in the top 20 of states for private equity investment in 2013.

According to the BioEnterprise Midwest Healthcare Venture Investment Report, Kentucky did not have a healthcare company [defined to include medical device, biopharmaceutical and healthcare software and service companies] receive a venture investment in either of H1 2013 or 2014.

In What an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Actually Is, Daniel Isenberg states, “There is no evidence that increasing the number of startups per se or new businesses formation stimulates economic development. There is some evidence that it goes the other way around, that is, economic growth stimulates new business creation and startups.” He goes on to say, “In fact, encouraging startups may be bad policy,” noting his article For a Booming Economy, Bet on High Growth Firms, Not Small Businesses.

In Why encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs is bad public policy, Scott Shane says, “Policy makers often think that creating more start-up companies will transform depressed economic regions, generate innovation, and create jobs. This belief is flawed because the typical start-up is not innovative, creates few jobs, and generates little wealth. Getting economic growth and jobs creation from entrepreneurs is not a numbers game. It is about encouraging the formation of high quality, high growth companies.”

In other words, you have to be able to scale your winners. Bruce Booth, and others, have said that on several occasions.

Scale Katrine

You can’t expect the broader public to get excited, or support an industry in any way, when the local area only has 100 little bootstrapped companies no one has ever heard of,” Luke Timmerman noted in Someone Needs to Rank U.S. Biotech Hubs, For Real.

While both Bruce Booth and Luke Timmerman were specifically referring to “biotech” in these instances, I think the same holds true for any industry sector.

Startups have to be able to scaleup.

I’m all for a positive entrepreneurial climate and startups. But in that entrepreneurial climate, there should be room for culling the herd. And giving “winners” the ability to scale.

#ThinkBig, Louisville!


Drugs for seniors; aging an opportunity for Louisville

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PhRMA has released its Medicines in Development for Older Americans 2014 report.

From The Search for Antiaging Interventions: From Elixirs to Fasting Regimens; “The current US population reports estimate that the percentage of people aged 65 years and older in the USA will increase from 13% in 2010 to 19.3% in 2030. However, according to the WHO, age itself remains the greatest risk factor for all major life-threatening disorders, and the number of people suffering from age-related diseases is anticipated to almost double over the next two decades.”

Human Longevity, Inc. and Calico have jumped into aging in a big way.

Ninety percent of major diseases are related to agingAge-Specific Cancer Incidence Rates That Continue to Rise Through the Oldest Age Groups; colorectal cancer has the highest incidence rate, for example.

Louisville, KY hosts the largest concentration of nursing-home and extended-care companies in the nation. See Aging Care.

I believe Louisville can leverage that industry cluster, à la Louisville, aging care & “biotech”.

One way is via biobanking. Patient samples could be quite valuable for research purposes.

Another related way to leverage Louisville’s LTC sector is through clinical trials.  What better way to recruit study participants for these 435 medicines in development than by accruing them through our local LTC presence?  Indeed, the tables of Sponsors and Development Phase in the PhRMA report could be a contact list for an entity such as Signature Research Institute.

Additionally, researchers at the University of Louisville are doing work related to diseases and conditions associated with aging noted in the report.  A few select highlights:

Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD is working on a way for patients undergoing retinal surgery to avoid the need to have subsequent surgery to remove cataracts that commonly develop afterward.

Chronic Kidney Disease
Lupus nephritis

David Powell is using proteomic approaches for the IDENTIFICATION OF DIAGNOSTIC MARKERS FOR LUPUS NEPHRITIS.

Diabetic nephropathy
Michael Merchant and Jon Klein are also using proteomic approaches to identify biomarkers of diabetic nephropathy and progressive renal decline.

Other PIs are doing work in longevity and polypharmacy.

The aging market represents big opportunity, one that Louisville should continue to capitalize upon.



Nutrition and aging; a sub-niche for Louisville?

This tweet caught my attention in April 2014.

Louisville is home to the largest concentration of nursing-home and extended-care companies in the nation. Aging Care

Atria Senior Living, Inc., in particular, highlights its dining programs.  Culinary Excellence, Signature Dining Program, Atria Senior Living.

Louisville is home to Yum! Brands, Inc. (KFC®, Pizza Hut® and Taco Bell®), Papa John’s International, Inc. and Brown-Forman Corporation, as well other notable food and beverage companies.

The December 2013 Advantage Louisville report featured this graph of target industry sectors.  Target sectors include Food and Beverage and Health Innovation (with a subsector long term care). In the graph, those two sectors don’t overlap.  But, they could. Target Sectors

“The region lags in scientific occupations in [the Food and Beverage] sector,” says the Advantage Louisville report.  An idea; Diet-Microbiota Interactions and The Elderly.  How’s that for an opportunity for scientific occupations in the Food and Beverage sector leveraging our Health Innovation long term care subsector?  “A nursing-home diet has a marked effect on an individual’s gut microbiome,” states Microbiome: Cultural differences.  Let’s leverage the community’s resources to explore that.

There’s a great discussion on seniors and nutrition via USC Davis School of Gerontology here (starting at slide 29).

Nutrition and aging could straddle Health IT into the Consumer & Business Services sector.  An example company in this area is InsideTracker. Another is Gene Guru.

Aging tastes at odds with ‘printable’ foods is a great piece by Jacqueline B. Marcus. She mentions 3D printing along with taste. University of Louisville PI Robert Lundy does research on taste.

3D printing of food could include target sectors of Manufacturing and Food and Beverage. The AARP Bulletin recently mentioned 3D printing of food for nursing home residents. This article from Army Technology is a great discussion of 3D printing food; Chow from a 3-D printer? Natick researchers are working on it.

One could envision Logistics & E-Commerce playing a role, too, particularly in distribution of 3D printed food.

Are Universities Creating Too Many Biotech Startups?

* This post was originally published via Xconomy 2/20/14.*



Twitter in Biotech: Today. Tomorrow?

Far from a time sink, I find Twitter to be very useful; not just for “news,” but also to network and develop productive work relationships.

I appreciate Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman putting me on his Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter? An Update for 2013 list.  I’m not sure I’m worthy, however!

I created a Twitter account October 26, 2009 to follow John Calipari.  Soon I figured out I could use Twitter for work related information, too.  My sixth and seventh follows were Daphne Zohar and Bruce Booth, respectively (both behind A Plea for Purging, though).

The real value in Twitter, I find, is this; connecting to people with similar interests, then making a real world connection.  But I am also curious how we’ll use it in the future.

Luke was the 29th person I followed.  After some Twitter interaction, Luke and I met in person in San Francisco; first at the BIO Investor Forum 2011 then later that week at Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.  I also attended The Immunex Impact: An Xconomy Forum that Luke moderated in December 2011.  We’ve met on several occasions since then.  Being from the upper Midwest, Luke has empathy for biotech in the middle 1/3 of the U.S., I think.  Luke’s been nothing but helpful to me.

Working from Luke’s 2012 Who Should Life Science Pros Follow on Twitter?, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the value of Twitter currently using people on the list I’ve met in person as a framework.

@RyanMFierce Ryan McBride:  Ryan and I connected briefly at Xconomy’s Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum.  We photobombed this picture.  Circulating photobombed pictures is a good use of Twitter.

With Ryan

Ryan is a great source of news and information, too.

@Michael_Gilman Michael Gilman:  I met Michael just long enough to shake his hand at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention Tweetup.

If Twitter had hair, I’d give it a mullet; “business in the front, party in the back.”  Meaning, mostly professional content, but a little personality, too.  For me, getting a glimpse of someone’s personality and interests is what makes Twitter useful and fun.  Michael’s Twitter feed is both useful and fun.

@scientre Laura Strong:  I also officially met Laura for the first time at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention Tweetup.  Unofficially, I’m pretty sure someone introduced us at either MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum 2009 in Madison or 2010 in Detroit.

Laura and I have many common interests, including biotech economic development away from the coasts.  It’s not uncommon for us to have an e-mail conversation going outside of public tweets.  Here’s an example of the outgrowth of one of those conversations; Active Life Science VCs & Twitter: Correlation? Causation? Randomness?  Plus, we share information and ideas.  And networks.

@LifeSciVC Bruce Booth:  If memory serves, I believe Bruce and I met for the first time at URES 2012.  Like many, I’m a big fan of Bruce’s blog posts.  Rock star, right?

Here’s the thing, though; he let’s me periodically bounce ideas off him for feedback and helps make introductions.  That’s solid.

Continuing on to Luke’s Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter? An Update for 2013 list…

@mkoeris Michael Koeris:  Mike and I had been tweeting for a while before we met in Cambridge in April 2013.

Mike and I conspire often via non-Twitter forms of communication, too.  Mike introduced me to a fellow Kentucky native, Emily Walsh.  I may have never made that connection but for networking via Twitter.  Mike’s always good for an introduction.  Or opinion, which I value!

@kevintoshio Kevin Chow:  I met Kevin for breakfast in October 2012 while I was in Seattle for the WBBA 2012 Governor’s Life Science Summit and Annual Meeting.  Kevin and I had communicated via Twitter and e-mail previously, too.

Kevin’s made introductions and shared information.  Even on kids’ bikes!

@bmgallagherjr Brian Gallagher:  I also met Brian for the first time at URES 2012.  We have a mutual friend; a guy I went to undergrad with at Transylvania University and Brian attended grad school with at Michigan.

Brian has never failed to answer a question or provide critical feedback any time I’ve asked for it.

@davidasteinberg David Steinberg:  David and I met at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention, but we had connected on Twitter, e-mail and phone before that.  Always helpful (all the folks at PureTech that I’ve talked to have been great, for that matter).

A direct outcome of that meeting; KNODE & the University of Louisville Announce Partnership.

Which is a good segue…

I use KNODE to include profiles of UofL PIs in tweets.  Related, I’m fascinated by altmetrics.  “Can Tweets Predict Citations?”  Yes, apparently.  Can you help drive that with KNODE?  “Guerrilla marketing” scholarly links to get the word out.

Twitter is good for tapping into the crowd to get thoughts on a particular topic or question.  Examples; Biz plans; do VCs read them? and Great team.  The second example uses Peerin.  Peerin is another great Twitter-related tool.

Twitter is cheaper than a plane ticket.  It’s great to follow conferences and meetings via hashtags.  People often think I’m at meetings even though I’m sitting in Louisville.

Often I’ll use a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn and e-mail, especially when I’ve seen a person tweet something related to a project via a conference hashtag.  See the tweet, look them up on LinkedIn, find an e-mail address.  Which is a mild form of cyberstalking, I guess.  But it works.

Louisville is not exactly the hotbed of biotech, so I use whatever resources I can.

Will a Gnip for biotech emerge?  “Big data monitors 12 terabytes of tweets each day to improve product sentiment analysis,” according to the Data Science at NYU website.

What will be the innovative new ways to use Twitter in biotech?

Altmetrics, access and repositories.

This was done with Storify.

You can read it here.

How might genomic/genetic sequence data play into this?