NMSUF Company Cylenta Pharma Names CEO

NMSUF Company Cylenta Pharma Names CEO

Mr. Gibbs is well versed in the pharmaceutical industry and has held a number of positions at AstraZeneca and Sanofi, including Vice President Head of Neuroscience Emerging Brands. Mr. Gibbs lead a global cross-functional commercialization and development project team of pharmaceutical professionals that accomplished the successful worldwide launch of the opioid induced constipation drug Movantik, overseeing strategies for communications, supply, pricing and market access. Gibbs also led US Breast & Prostate Cancer commercial operations at AstraZeneca.

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ABQ Journal - UNM-linked startup launches accelerating

New Mexico Start-Up Factory is proud to be part of the acceleration of technologies in New Mexico, especially those from UNM. The Albuquerque Journal's Kevin Robinson-Avila featured some of our work in his article, "UNM-linked startup launches accelerating" this morning. See article below:

The $90 million sale of the Albuquerque-based medical diagnostic technology firm IntelliCyt Corp. in June to a global German corporation is a shining success story for the University of New Mexico.

The startup, which launched in 2006 with technology licensed through UNM’s Science and Technology Corp., was acquired by the pharmaceutical firm Sartorius AG, an industry giant with $1.5 billion in annual revenue and operations in 110 countries.

UNM could earn nearly $1 million from the sale after cashing out its stock. And, despite acquisition by a European company, IntelliCyt will continue to operate in New Mexico with its current 55-employee workforce.

“It’s a big win for us,” said STC President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “I’d call it a home run.”

It may be a harbinger of a lot more success to come, given that dozens of other startups are now working in New Mexico and other states to commercialize a broad range of UNM technology licensed through the STC.

In the past 10 years, 78 new startups have formed with UNM innovation, about 60 percent of which are still in business. Some 75 percent of them are located in New Mexico.

Now, the pace of startup formation is accelerating. Twelve new businesses formed with UNM technology in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to the latest STC statistics compiled for FY 2016. That’s up from nine startups that formed in each of the past three years and is the largest number of new businesses to launch in a single year since the technology transfer program began in 1996.

“That’s the big news for this past year – a dozen new startups,” Kuuttila said. “Until now, the most we’d done in a single year was nine.”

All told, the university signed 54 licensing deals with companies in FY 2016 to take university inventions to market. That’s up from 50 last year and just 25 a decade ago.

The tech transfer program earned at least $2.51 million in royalties and patent income for UNM this year. Those numbers are still preliminary and are expected to climb as more technology licensees report their sales revenue for FY 2016 to STC in the coming weeks, Kuuttila said. The university earned $2.73 million in FY 2015 and just $938,000 10 years ago.

UNM also reported 69 new patents issued by the federal government last year for university inventions. That’s up from 46 in FY 2015 and is by far the most ever issued to UNM in a single year. In STC’s last peak year in 2013, the government issued 51 patents to UNM.

The National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association included UNM again this year on its annual list of 100 universities and research organizations worldwide receiving U.S. patents. It’s the third year in a row UNM has made the list, released July 12.

The jump in patents, plus more than 100 invention disclosures by UNM faculty and staff every year, reflects a huge change in university culture that is helping to fuel technology transfer, said Joe Cecchi, dean of the UNM School of Engineering and a longtime member of the STC board, which he chaired for seven years.

“We just continue to improve every year,” Cecchi said. “STC has done a great job of helping faculty to get their intellectual property protected and to get it out into startups. It’s led to a real change in culture where faculty and staff are actively participating, because they see everything that’s happening and they want to be a part of it.”

That’s particularly true at the UNM Health Science Center, where technology innovation led to more than three dozen startup companies in the past decade.

In FY 2016, for example, five of the 12 startups that formed are marketing technology from the Health Science Center. That includes things such as new sensors and molecular compounds for medical diagnostics, and therapies for prostate cancer and inflammatory neurological disorders.

“We’ve created training programs to help our faculty learn how to work with private companies and what to expect when they do,” said Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor for the Health Science Center. “Our faculty are encouraged because this allows their inventions to have societal impact. That’s very motivating for them.”

STC’s unique collaboration with the New Mexico Angels, a group of about 70 individuals who pool their resources to invest in new companies, is also helping to pull a lot more technology out of UNM labs and into the market.

The Angels created three of the 12 startups this past year. Those companies are commercializing new computer encryption technology, a device from a UNM mechanical engineering professor, that could allow people to temporarily color their hair or create hair designs with the swipe of a handheld wand, and a new drug to ease acute inflammation and slow the progress of multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders.

“We’re creating opportunities for our investors with technology from both UNM’s main campus and the Health Science Center,” said NM Angels President John Chavez. “It’s a good model that’s working to create more technology-based companies in New Mexico.”

UNM President Robert Frank and other university and community leaders are hoping the new Innovate ABQ initiative to create a high-tech research and development hub in the heart of Albuquerque will accelerate technology transfer even more. UNM, in cooperation with local government and private-sector leaders, broke ground last week on the first building at the Innovate ABQ site at Central and Broadway Downtown.

“President Frank’s support for technology transfer has been critical in moving these efforts forward,” Cecchi said. “Our local leaders understand what this can do for economic development and they’re providing key support for it.”

One ongoing concern, however, is the low level of early-stage capital available in New Mexico for startups, which may have contributed to five of the 12 startups formed this year being located in other states, such as California, Kuuttila said. Last year, seven of the nine startups that formed chose to locate in New Mexico.

“I’m worried about more of our startups going out of state,” Kuuttila said. “Clearly we have great technology and we’re doing good outreach to investors to take it to market. But we just don’t have as much money in New Mexico to help build and grow companies as they do in some other places.”


Angels to Launch Second Startup Factory


By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

Published: Friday, January 30th, 2015 at 3:18pm

Updated: Friday, January 30th, 2015 at 6:04pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Another New Mexico Angels “Startup Factory” is in the works to pull new, potentially marketable technologies out of the state’s research universities and national labs.

The NM Angels, which unites about 70 individuals who pool their resources to invest in early stage companies, is raising $150,000 to launch New Mexico Startup Factory II by March as a second holding company to seed the commercial development of laboratory inventions that can be spun into business endeavors. The first Startup Factory, started in 2012, created seven new companies in New Mexico, only one of which has failed, said NM Angels President John Chavez.

“We expect to fund at least four or five more companies through the second Startup Factory,” Chavez said. “We’re looking at things that can be rapidly spun out with seed funding and little business incubation.”

Six of the seven businesses formed through the first holding company were based on University of New Mexico technology, although some were developed through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories. The new holding company, however, will commercialize more technology from other research institutions apart from UNM.

“We have partnerships with both labs and with New Mexico State University,” Chavez said. “We’re looking now at a new technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

The Startup Factory provides a novel model for facilitating collaboration between local investors and technology transfer professionals. It grew out of the Angels’ long-term partnership with the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office, which hosts an annual technology showcase for Angel investors to learn more about potentially marketable UNM inventions.

Some companies formed by the Startup Factory are achieving significant milestones. Lotis Leaf Coatings, for example – which is marketing a super water-repellent coating jointly developed by UNM and Sandia – just signed a distribution and licensing deal this week with Vision-Ease Lens of Minnesota.

Vision-Ease makes and markets lenses for eyeware. It will incorporate Lotus Leaf’s coating into its lenses to improve performance for customers, said Lotus Leaf CEO Lawrence Chavez.

“This partnership will take us into the eyeware market for the first time,” Chavez said. “Vision-Ease distributes their lenses through outlets worldwide.”

Among the Startup Factory’s other companies are three that are commercializing medical technologies to fight cancer and protect against stroke, one that is developing a micro-encapsulation process to make biopesticides more effective, and another that is marketing a device to speed fiber-optic communications. One of the cancer-fighting companies, ExoVita Biosciences, launched this month.

ABQ Lab-to-business accelerator ready to launch


By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, January 7th, 2016 at 3:42pm

University of New Mexico Professor Jim Plusquellic with Phd candidates Wenjie Che and Dylan Ismari, from left, test hardware security primitive computer chips designed in the Integrated circuit hardware analysis laboratory at UNM. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new “Lab-to-Business” accelerator will officially launch in Albuquerque on Jan. 13 with an initial cohort of three startups seeking to market University of New Mexico technologies.

The City of Albuquerque approved a $200,000 grant this week for the new accelerator, dubbed “L2B,” which will help scientists from the state’s research universities and national laboratories transfer their innovations into the marketplace.

That’s different from the six other business accelerators now operating in the city, which generally work with local entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate the development of new and existing businesses.

L2B will be run by the Startup Factory, an entity created in 2012 by members of the New Mexico Angels to vet commercially viable technology and provide entrepreneurial expertise.

The program will disseminate entrepreneurial know-how among scientists who want to commercialize new products and services, said Startup Factory Operating Manager John Chavez. L2B will include intensive, individual classes for inventors with the most-promising technologies, plus open workshops for all researchers and scientists who want to learn more about the program.

“We’ve developed a curriculum to show how startups are created, identify viable products and potential markets, and connect researchers with the people and resources they need to move forward,” Chavez said.

The first three participants include a UNM Health Sciences professor with a drug to slow multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, and engineering professors who built a security system to protect hardware from hackers and a handheld consumer device for people to temporarily color their hair.

The classes include weekly individual sessions for the first three months, followed by less-frequent meetings for six months or more, said Startup Factory Executive Director Dorian Rader.

“We’ll help validate their technologies for the market, do due diligence, and build a team with a startup to move to the next level,” Rader said. “We’ll give them the tools they need to commercialize their technologies.”

Scientists may end up taking a secondary role in a startup as chief technology or science officer to allow experienced entrepreneurs to move the company forward. In that sense, the L2B program is tailor-made for accelerating technology transfer, said the city’s economic development director, Gary Oppedahl.

“Some scientists do want to leave the lab to commercialize technology, but most generally don’t, so this program helps extract their knowledge and get it out to the market through experienced entrepreneurs who can take their ideas Forward,” Oppedahl said.

Scientists accepted into accelerator classes are vetted through the Startup Factory, which chooses the most promising technologies to form a company. At that point, the Startup Factory will take a 25 percent equity stake.

The NM Angels’ may later put money into a startup, or seek capital from venture firms and corporate partners.

That’s a major benefit, said Lisa Kuuttila, president of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office.

“There are big capital gaps, especially at the earliest stages, to get these startups off the ground,” Kuuttila said. “Through the Startup Factory and the new Lab-to-Business program, the Angels are playing a critical role to nurture new technology companies forward.”

Here are details of the three startups that will enter the “Lab-to-Business” accelerator next week:

–“Enthentica” is marketing a new security system to protect hardware from hackers that was developed by UNM electrical and computer engineering professor Jim Plusquellic. Plusquellic’s process, developed over the past three years, will allow manufacturers to use unique identifiers in chips to prevent hackers from tampering with hardware. That could provide a lot more protection for Internet-connected devices, because security would be directly imbedded within the fabric of the chips that run the hardware. The professor has been working with the Startup Factory for about six months, leading to the creation of Enthentica, which will now move forward through the L2B accelerator to develop a business plan, an executive team and industry partnerships to start making and selling the security system to manufacturers.

— Cylenta Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a drug to ease acute inflammation and slow the progress of multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory neurological disorders. Jeff Hill, an assistant research professor in the Department of Neurology, has effectively tested the drug on laboratory animals and will now work through the L2B program to raise funding to move to clinical trials. “This can really accelerate the technology’s advancement because they (the Angels) have all the industry contacts and experts who know how to take new drugs to market,” Hill said. “These are people who have done it before and know what’s involved.”

— LoboLoxe — a technology developed by a UNM mechanical engineering professor that could allow

UNM Technology that would allow people to put color or designs in their hair with the simple sweep of a device would be in the first cohort of a new business accelerator designed to move lab and university technology into the marketplace.Photo: Courtesy of UNM

UNM Technology that would allow people to put color or designs in their hair with the simple sweep of a device would be in the first cohort of a new business accelerator designed to move lab and university technology into the marketplace.

Photo: Courtesy of UNM

people to temporarily color their hair or create hair designs with the simple swipe of a handheld device. The process uses light infractions to put patterns on hair and make different colors when it’s hit by light. The L2B program will help find strategic partners in the hair product or consumer industry to take the technology to market.