By Barry Teater
ATLANTA — Bioscience companies from North Carolina dominated the awards competition at the 20th annual SEBIO Investor and Partnering Forum in Atlanta this month, with nine Tar Heel firms earning recognition.
Of the five awards given for best-in-class deals in 2018, four went to North Carolina companies:
Locus Biosciences of Raleigh won for best initial venture funding. It raised $19 million in Series A financing to develop precision antimicrobials for drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Precision BioSciences of Durham won for best venture funding after securing $110 million in Series B financing. The company has developed a genome-editing platform for applications in cancer immunotherapy, gene therapy and food production.
Humacyte of Durham won for best strategic investment. The company secured a $150 million strategic investment from Fresenius Medical, the world’s largest dialysis company, to commercialize Humacyl, a bioengineered blood vessel, for dialysis applications.
Liquidia Technologies of Durham won for best public offering. The company raised $50 million in its initial public offering and will use the proceeds to advance its particle-engineered, drug-delivery products.
Three companies from North Carolina were among four selected from a pool of 16 as finalists for best early stage company:
Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies of Raleigh is developing an implantable device to infuse chemotherapy drugs directly into the pancreas, targeting difficult-to-reach pancreatic cancer tumors while largely sparing surrounding tissues, organs and blood vessels.
EternaTear of Raleigh is developing a therapy for dry eye using a novel and proprietary mechanism to supplement all three layers of the tear film and bind them together on the ocular surface.
Tellus Therapeutics of Durham is developing compounds identified in human breast milk to treat white-matter brain injury in premature infants. Tellus Therapeutics won the competition.
Finally, of the six companies selected to give presentations on the main stage, two were from Durham: NeuroTronik and Spyryx Biosciences.
NeuroTronik is a medical device company developing a novel neuromodulation therapy for patients suffering from acute decompensated heart failure. Spyryx is developing inhalable peptide compounds to treat severe pulmonary diseases involving mucus accumulation and obstructions including cystic fibrosis.
“We’re proud of North Carolina’s strong showing at the SEBIO forum, where many of our companies were duly recognized for their innovation, growth and development,” said Vivian Doelling, Ph.D., vice president of emerging company development, at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, a sponsor of the forum. “Our companies made quite an impression.”
More than 300 biotech and medical technology investors, corporate executives, university representatives, entrepreneurs and service providers attended the two-day SEBIO event, the region’s largest life science conference, on Nov. 13 and 14 at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. The annual forum connects emerging companies with potential investors and corporate partners.
To date, the more than 220 later stage and 180 early stage companies that participated in previous SEBIO forums have raised more than $3.5 billion in public and private funding. SEBIO is a regional nonprofit organization that fosters the growth of the life sciences industry in the Southeastern United States by promoting entrepreneurship and bringing together the key stakeholders active in the industry’s development.
The SEBIO forum rotates locations each year throughout the Southeast. Last year’s SEBIO conference was held in Pinehurst, N.C., and previous conferences were held in Durham, Raleigh and Pinehurst.