Ebb & Flow
A new initiative at the University of California at San Diego is offering investors a chance to leverage the university's scientific assets - including professors, IP and lab facilities - without having to build a lot of infrastructure. UCSD TransMed is designed to accelerate the commercialization of early stage life science technology by offering VCs the ability to build a company within the university's labs. The concept is similar to an incubator strategy, but without the cost of incubator space.
"We're using the infrastructure and paying the overhead on it, and we're happy to do that because we don't incur a fixed cost," said Joel Martin of Forward Ventures, which last week funded pain management company AnalgesiX, the first company to come out of UCSD TransMed. "If the research doesn't pan out, we're not left with a company to shut down, with infrastructure and an employee base."
With no incremental cost of setting up an infrastructure to clear the technological hurdles, "it allows us to take a bigger risk," Martin added. "It allows us to get in earlier and it allows us to take a rifle shot on a technology program."
Under the deal, AnalgesiX will receive milestone-based financing of up to $1.5 million over three years. About 30-40% of the money is in the form of a grant from the university, with Forward Ventures on the hook for the balance.
The company hopes to address the pain and inflammatory process at an earlier point in the cascade than COX-2 inhibitors by developing small molecules that target phospholipases. Phospholipases are responsible for