The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, has awarded $3.75 million in loans to five early-stage life sciences companies. The five companies, each recieving $750,000 through the Accelerator Program, are engaged in research and development, commercialization and manufacturing.
Companies receiving loans include AesRx LLC, which is developing Aes-103, a small molecule therapeutic in preclinical development for sickle cell disease; and ECI Biotech, which is developing its ExpressDetect diagnostic sensors for detection of infectious diseases. Also receiving awards were Grove Instruments, which is developing diabetes testing instruments; MoMelan Technologies, which is developing wound care devices; and Myomo, which is developing robotic rehabilitation devices for patients after neuromuscular impairment.
Johnson & Johnson and sanofi-aventis have each agreed to contribute $500,000 to the Accelerator Program over two years, in exchange for a first look at the applying early-stage biotechs.
The loans are designed to help companies move forward at a time when they are still seeking funding from venture capital firms or other traditional means.
“We are about helping early-stage life sciences companies grow into larger companies and bigger employers, as they develop innovative medical and diagnostic technologies," said Governor Deval Patrick, in a statement. “We look forward to working with these companies as they put down roots and grow in Massachusetts, supporting the future of life sciences and medical technology in our own backyard.”
The Accelerator Program, the Center’s flagship investment program for companies, supports and “de-risks” early-stage companies by providing loans that will match other sources of capital. By leveraging other sources of capital, the Accelerator Program provides support to companies at the most critical stages of their development cycle, enabling them to conduct vital research and proof-of-concept studies and attract subsequent investment while improving the odds of bringing cutting edge innovation to the marketplace. The first two rounds of the program took place in 2009 and 2010 and collectively funded ten companies.
In September of 2010, Good Start Genetics became the first of these companies to pay back their loan, with interest, after securing $18 million in Series A financing. In October 2010 Invivo Therapeutics paid back their loan to the Center, with interest, after raising $13 million in private financing. These repayments contribute back the Center’s funds that are available for reinvestment through this and other programs.
Applicants for the Accelerator Program are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high-potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and downstream private equity financing. The loans are designed to address the need for capital investment associated with the long life sciences R&D cycle and the high cost of translating research into a commercially viable product.
For more information on the Accelerator Program and the loanrecipants, visit www.masslifesciences.com.