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Going straight for the value
SAN DIEGO—California-based specialty life-science investor Torrey Pines Investment (TPI) has teamed up with Cleveland, Ohio-based accelerator company BioMotiv, with the pair signing a multimillion-dollar joint investment framework to fund early-stage life-science programs and companies over the next seven years.
The agreement will, as the two parties describe, "fund innovative ideas emerging from research institutions with a focus on creating new medicines by quickly and cost-effectively moving platforms, compounds and candidates from early-stage development through clinical proof of concept."
The companies don't plan to limit their options, intending to invest across multiple therapeutic areas and disease targets, and the technologies can come from any location worldwide, which means both organizations can tap into their regional and global research and development networks for maximum value.
"This framework will provide an outstanding platform for this effort and will help to take advantage of each partner's networks, resources, knowledge and expertise in innovative drug discovery and development," said Ronald Demuth, president of TPI, in the Aug. 12 news release about the deal, noting that he was pleased to partner with BioMotiv in no small part because it has an "ambitious team … pioneering new ways to accelerate translation of academic research into new medicines and therapies."
While the partnership isn't limiting itself to a specific focus area, BioMotiv CEO Baiju Shah says the partnership is itself very focused, at least on technology and other tangible assets that can be developed.
"We are not looking to primarily invest in existing companies," Shah tells DDNews. "What we are focused on—and this is a shared alignment with Torrey Pines—is assets. It's a subtle but key differentiator. We want to take technology or compounds into our joint control and take control of continued development. We are not looking to support free-standing biotech companies and fund their ongoing operations."
Shah says the focus of initial work between BioMotiv and TPI under the new framework has been in the United States.
"This is where we are clearly resident," he says, "and so most of our activity has been in the United States. But as we expand our network, we are starting to receive interesting opportunities originating from overseas technology sources, whether academic research institutions or others, and we are beginning to consider those opportunities as well, in partnership with groups that have a stronger basis than us in those geographies."
One of the reasons BioMotiv was keen to team up with TPI was that the San Diego company brings expertise in small- molecule development and the chemistry side of things, all the way through clinical development. Shah notes that BioMotiv didn't want to build those capabilities in-house. In addition, TPI's network provides BioMotiv access to new technology sources and experienced development capabilities.
"What we bring is experienced pharmaceutical project directors," he adds. "It's a very natural partnership, as we bring our skills in project management and the financial side, and they bring clinical study expertise."
BioMotiv is associated with the Harrington Project for Discovery and Development, a national initiative centered at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.
BioMotiv sources technology platforms and compound opportunities through relationships with research institutions, disease foundations and industry—with an interest in all disease areas and types of therapeutics, including small molecules, antibodies, proteins, cell therapies and nucleotides—and advances products to the point of clinical proof-of-concept before partnering them for further development. BioMotiv seeks opportunities from preclinical to early-clinical stages of development, and it also considers drug repurposing opportunities.
TPI, founded in 2002, features a team of investment professionals with extensive experience in entrepreneurship, venture capital and operations, and it has created biopharma incubators investing in early-development stage assets from international pharma and biotech partners in central nervous system applications, oncology and virology "to bring them to commercial success through pharma partnering and M&A."