Category Archives: Venture Capital Industry

Carterra Takes Part in “Dousing the Pandemic’s Flames”

Source:  GEN – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Neutralizing antibodies represent an important class of therapeutics that could provide immediate benefit in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 or as a passive prophylaxis before vaccination. Passive prophylaxis also could be an alternative to vaccination in populations where vaccines have been found to be less efficacious.1

When AbCellera became a participant in DARPA’s P3 (Pandemic Prevention Platform) program in 2018, the aim was to build a pandemic-ready, rapid response, antibody discovery platform capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of an unknown viral pathogen. At the time, AbCellera didn’t know that within two years its platform and team would be mobilized to react in record time to a real-life global health scenario, the COVID-19 pandemic.

In every person’s body, billions of antibodies exist, each with unique properties and functions. AbCellera’s full-stack AI-powered antibody discovery platform deeply searches natural immune responses to identify antibodies with desired properties such as virus neutralization, safety, longevity, and manufacturability.

The company’s mission is to make its technology stack available and to empower all antibody-based drug discovery programs. To date, the technology stack has been used in over 100 programs to address a wide range of indications in addition to COVID-19 and other infectious disease.

Putting a plan into action

At the end of February 2020, AbCellera obtained a single blood sample from a recovered COVID-19 patient. Close to six million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were screened in three days, and thousands of therapeutic antibody potentials eventually narrowed to a final subset of 500 unique antibodies that recognized the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein’s receptor binding domain (RBD) and the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cellular receptor.

These candidates underwent extensive analysis and characterization—approximately 500 data points per molecule. An important aspect of the technology stack is the machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) tool that allows analysis of large data clouds comprised of approximately 250,000 data points for this data set.

“We were able to visualize the analysis and down selection process using our custom in-house visualization software, Celium,” said Ester Falconer, PhD, chief technology officer at AbCellera, who led the AI-powered antibody discovery platform’s development.

Bryan Jones, PhD, senior research fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, co-led most of the discovery activities that took place at Lilly, in close partnership with AbCellera. His group played a large role analyzing and transitioning the initially discovered set of hundreds of antibodies—through selection, production, and characterization of a narrowed set of antibodies—that ultimately led to the identification of LY-CoV555 (bamlanivimab) for clinical development.

This image depicts LY-CoV555 (bamlanivimab), an antibody that engages the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike protein, and thereby blocks the RBD’s interaction with the host cell’s angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Notice that three LY-CoV555 Fab fragments bind to one spike trimer. LY-CoV555 was discovered by AbCellera Biologics, which is developing the antibody with Eli Lilly and Company.

“Due to the rapidly evolving and geographically diverse nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, continued scientific innovation remains critical to develop additional treatments,” said Jones, who adds that Lilly remains committed to developing complementary neutralizing antibodies to address potential SARS-CoV-2 variants that undoubtedly will arise. Currently, a next-generation antibody, LY-CoV1404, is in the preclinical pipeline.

Eli Lilly and Company is developing neutralizing antibodies that can address SARS-CoV-2 variants. One such antibody is LY-CoV1404, which Lilly is developing in collaboration with AbCellera Biologics. LY-CoV1404 is a next-generation antibody, and it has entered clinical trials in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Lilly has expanded its ongoing BLAZE-4 trials to evaluate LY-CoV1404 alone and together with other monoclonal antibodies.

Intense pressure and challenges

“Our platform and the extended team were ready,” said Falconer. “But in reality, this was a new virus that the world was racing against. We had no experience with it and did not know what type of immune response it would elicit. To develop an antibody database to mine, we had only one blood sample from one of the first recovered patients in the United States.

“Plus, this was an early immune response. The blood was drawn 20 days after onset of symptoms. It was not clear what we were going to find. We had one shot, it had to work, and it had to be the fastest discovery ever. The pandemic-ready platform and team had to deliver.”

The speed at which things needed to progress was the biggest challenge. “Because of the urgency,” Jones recalled, “we were making decisions based on little data and testing a new virus, while simultaneously trying to coordinate these activities across multiple organizations ranging from Lilly and AbCellera, to the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to the numerous academic collaborators who were providing critical data.”

All of these efforts played out against a backdrop of everyone trying to learn how to work nearly completely remotely.

Antibodies were characterized deeply to ensure that any data points that could direct the team in the right direction would not be overlooked. The number of data points per antibody highlights the importance of the visualization software Celium and the infrastructure AbCellera developed to generate, aggregate, and process the data. High-stakes decision making was made in real time.

The discovery efforts, which have been detailed in Science Translational Medicine, included the rapid identification and characterization of the potent anti-spike neutralizing antibody, LYCoV555, derived from PBMCs isolated from a patient after recovery from COVID-19.1

The Carterra LSA, a high-throughput monoclonal antibody characterization platform, combines microfluidic flow technology and high-throughput surface plasmon resonance detection. The LSA helped AbCellera and Eli Lilly and Company evaluate binding affinity and epitope coverage for over 500 patient-derived antibodies including LY-CoV555. In this image, the LSA is being operated by Josh Eckman, founder and CEO of Carterra, and Rebecca Rich, PhD, a senior scientist at the company.

It takes a village

“With the right team and technology, what seems impossible is achievable. With Lilly, we broke the mold for the fastest discovery through IND for any drug, challenging the current drug development process,” Falconer said. “It does not need to take years and years. Nearly six million cells were screened in three days, antibody genes were sequenced in an additional two days, and antibodies were generated and tested a week later—an incredible feat.”

“There really was not a tremendous difference in the workflow of discovery, clinical development, and manufacturing, except that everyone was singularly focused,” Jones added. “But a key difference was partnership with the FDA to identify innovative approaches to get treatments to patients as quickly as possible. We learned that a large and committed group of people concentrated on a sole objective can do amazing things.”

Pandemics are unpredictable

Bamlanivimab proceeded from sample to Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in just over eight months, a groundbreaking achievement in the development of antibody therapeutics. In November 2020, the FDA granted an EUA for bamlanivimab alone, and subsequently granted an EUA in February 2021 for bamlanivimab together with etesevimab (LY-CoV016), for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

Due to the sustained increase of SARS-CoV-2 variants that are resistant to bamlanivimab alone, Lilly requested and received in April 2021 a revocation of the EUA for bamlanivimab used alone. The EUA remains in effect for the combined use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab.

Enabling technology

The Carterra LSA facilitated the rapid kinetic characterization of the selected recombinantly expressed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the RBD.

Spike protein–dependent viral entry is initiated by upward movement of the RBD at the apex of the protein, allowing access to bind the ACE2 cellular receptor. Upon receptor engagement, coordinated proteolytic cleavage and shedding of the S1 subunit occur, and conformational rearrangement of the S2 subunit leads to viral fusion with the cell and transfer of genetic material.1

“The LSA allowed for an extensive epitope analysis to be performed on the antibody panel which demonstrated broad epitope coverage, distinct classification into known binder categories such as S1 and S2, and the determination of neutralization of ACE2 binding,” said Dan Bedinger, PhD,  applications scientist team lead at Carterra.

These assessments were key elements in the ranking and selection of the subset of leads for further characterization.

The ability to rapidly complete these analyses in a parallel, unattended fashion with minute amounts of recombinant antigen—a scarce and valuable resource—made it possible to characterize the full candidate panel in an extremely accelerated development timeline, 90 days from initiation to first in human.

According to Bedinger, no other bioanalytical platform could have provided this rich picture of epitope binning classification, a picture that delivered a deep understanding of the interaction between sequence diversity and epitope recognition.

Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium

As variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge, Carterra is collaborating with the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC), a Gates Foundation–sponsored program. CoVIC has collected nearly 300 antibodies from a wide variety of sources that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

In a highly interdisciplinary effort across many institutions, these antibodies are being evaluated for a variety of properties including viral neutralization and escape, effector function, epitope recognition, and binding specificity. The LSA is being utilized to characterize the relative binding of each antibody to a variety of spike mutants and to create a comprehensive epitope binning profile.

“Data show that these antibodies can be clustered into epitope communities which map to various regions or faces of the spike protein when analyzed by cryo-EM,” said Bedinger. “Clones within these communities often share properties like neutralization and binding sensitivities to certain types of mutations.”

With a high-throughput approach, new antibodies can be rapidly binned into relevant communities and compared against the existing antibody population to understand their novelty and to predict their behavior.

 

 

Why entrepreneurs find Tampa Bay the right place to grow and realize their dreams

Source:  Visit Tampa Bay

As with many entrepreneurs, Founder and CEO Jorge Brea’s dreams took root in his childhood home. He started Symphonic Distribution in a spare bedroom of his parents’ house in 2006.

Symphonic helps independent artists and record labels get their music on streaming platforms and into the ears of listeners around the world.

In addition to being named to the Billboard magazine Indie Power Players list in 2018 and 2019, Brea has now grown his digital music services company to a team of over 50 passionate people in Tampa, Brooklyn, Denver, Nashville and Bogota, Colombia.

And while Brea’s vision and drive paved his way, Tampa Bay provided a supportive and thriving location in which to make his dreams a reality — and give them ample room to grow.

“I think Tampa is getting more creative and becoming a technology hub. It’s great to see new entrepreneurs and different types of business come into the area,” Brea says.

Ranked a best place to live

Tampa Bay’s quality of life earned it a spot on the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live list, and it was named a community where it’s cheaper to buy a home than to rent. Plus, Money magazine named Tampa Bay the Best Big City in the Southeast in 2015, and in 2018, WalletHub ranked Tampa Bay one of the top communities in Florida to start a business.

“Billions of dollars in public and private investment are transforming the way Tampa Bay works, lives and plays. Coming over the horizon, we have the building of new office space, major funding for tech incubators and loads of new options for urban living,” says Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

Millions in venture capital

“Tampa Bay combines a welcoming, small-town feel with the amenities of a major American city,” Corrada says. “It’s easy for newcomers to find their niche here. Tech startups, nonprofits, restaurants and entertainment — entrepreneurs from nearly every industry sector quickly discover that Tampa Bay residents reward creativity and vision with time and money — including millions in venture capital.”

Brea of Symphonic Distribution knows that firsthand. In 2017, equity firm Ballast Point Ventures put $4 million into the Tampa Bay-based firm, which also offers design, audio mastering, marketing, merchandising and licensing services. Brea says that funding has helped him hire senior staff the company needs to become increasingly competitive, and raise Symphonic’s profile even further, around the world.

“To say that we’re headquartered here and that we have global presence and global clients, including real superstars that are platinum artists, I think really does help shine a big light into what’s happening with Tampa and its development,” Brea says.

Relentlessly (if quietly) preparing the future

The Convair Model 118, from 1947

In 2011 Peter Thiel famously quipped, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”  His comment was taken by some to suggest that entrepreneurs and their backers had shifted away from transformational technologies.

One year later Moderna Theraputics was founded, and one year after that Lucira Health was.  Both received backing from venture firms, and both are now transforming the COVID-ravaged world: the former by creating a vaccine to battle the most devastating health crisis the world has experienced in over 100 years, and the latter by creating the first at-home (self administered) test for the same.

In our little corner of the world two of our own portfolio companies, Carterra and Y-Prime, are involved in important COVID-related work on vaccines, testing, and therapeutic trials.

  • Carterra is playing a meaningful role in the fight against COVID, continuing their work with the Gates Foundation and the La Jolla Institute of Immunology.  The Carterra LSA platform for accelerating the discovery of therapeutic antibodies is being used to screen therapies and to investigate virus mutations that will make COVID-19 more difficult to treat or vaccinate against.  Eli Lilly and AbCellera used the LSA platform, which enables 100 times the binding data to be collected in 10% of the time with 1% of the sample (vs. competing platforms), to bring an antibody from concept to clinical trials in 90 days – a process that normally takes years.
  • COVID has altered the landscape of clinical outcome assessments (COAs), creating significant new challenges in patient participation and data collection. Most sponsors have no experience with virtual trials and have seen delays and cancellations in their urgent work. In this interview, Y-Prime’s Vice President of Strategic Solutions Donna Mongiello discusses trends in the “virtualization” of clinical trials.  Y-Prime is helping to transform how eCOAs recruit patients, distribute devices,  train sites and patients, and gather data.

While it is true that not every start-up may be as historically meaningful as the aforementioned, and technological innovation doesn’t always move as linearly or breezily as imagined in the movies, more than a few of them are always laying the groundwork for a future that is healthier and happier for us all.

NEOGOV and PowerDMS Join Forces

Source:  NEOGOV

NEOGOV, a market leader in public sector human resources software, today announced a definitive agreement to merge with PowerDMS, a leader in cloud-based compliance software that helps customers simplify how they create, track, and attest to policies, training, and industry standards. The merger will expand NEOGOV’s product offerings and further demonstrates its commitment to streamlining the complex processes needed to support the public sector workforce. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

NEOGOV’s full suite human capital management solution enables recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, performance management, payroll, benefits and time and attendance processes specific to public sector and higher education organizations. PowerDMS’ products strategically complement NEOGOV’s platform and capabilities, setting it up for the next chapter of the company’s growth. The merger will help customers solve complex human resource and compliance challenges under one roof by unifying best-in-class human resource tools and document management in an age of increased pressure for additional accountability and transparency.

The merger is subject to regulatory approval. The combined businesses will be operated by NEOGOV, which is headquartered in El Segundo, CaliforniaShane Evangelist, current NEOGOV CEO, will be CEO of the combined company.

“The addition of PowerDMS to the NEOGOV family is a natural fit. It increases our core offering and deepens our expertise around procedure and policy management, which will ultimately enable us to modernize more of the vital systems that serve our citizens,” Evangelist said. “The tremendous team and solutions at PowerDMS furthers our mission to ‘Serve the people who serve the people.’ ”

PowerDMS offers a secure cloud-based policy, compliance, accreditation management solution that helps organizations with transparency, accountability, risk and liability reduction, increases organizational efficiency, and helps save lives. The company provides secure FBI CJIS compliant software tools to organize and manage an organization’s critical documents and industry accreditation standards and allows for training and testing of employees. PowerDMS serves customers in public safety, government, and healthcare and has achieved significant organic growth in these markets.

“Delivering transformative Cloud-based solutions that automate and scale complex processes needed to run local government is at the heart of what both companies do well. By expanding its offering to include the products of PowerDMS, NEOGOV is well-positioned to continue our success and further increase a combined footprint in the public sector,” said David DiGiacomo, CEO of PowerDMS.

The merger of PowerDMS broadens the solutions offered by NEOGOV and further supports the company’s long-term growth strategy and dedication to enhancing its comprehensive capabilities within the human resources software market.

William Blair served as exclusive financial advisor to PowerDMS in the transaction.

About NEOGOV

NEOGOV is the leading provider of an integrated HR, payroll, and talent management solution for the public sector. NEOGOV customers report increased employee productivity and engagement, time and cost savings, improved regulatory requirement compliance, and reduced paper processes, with a net result of better services for citizens. Serving over 6,000 organizations, NEOGOV provides intelligent HR for the public sector. More information at www.neogov.com.

About PowerDMS

Founded in 2001, PowerDMS offers a cloud-based compliance management platform that helps users reduce risk and liability, protect reputation, increase efficiency, and save lives. The company provides software tools to organize and manage an organization’s critical documents and industry accreditation standards and allows for training and testing of employees. Most of the over 4,000 PowerDMS customers represent high-risk industries with compliance requirements in the healthcare, government, and commercial sectors. To learn more, go to www.PowerDMS.com .

Mailprotector Awarded Patent for Bracket Email Encryption Technologies

 

(Greenville, S.C) November 30, 2020 – Mailprotector, a Greenville, SC-based cybersecurity company, announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued U.S. Patent No.10708244 for Bracket®, a system and method for encryption, storage, and transmission of digital information.

The problem with traditional encryption methodologies is the complexity of the applications, implementation, and decoding processes. With Bracket, users simply wrap the subject line in brackets and hit send. The process for opening and decoding messages is equally effortless. Bracket features include:

  • Messages encrypted using AES256 standards & geographically distributed key.
  • Fool-proof sign-in mails with a secure, expiring link. No more lost passwords!
  • Encrypted email can be sent from any email app on any device.
  • MX-free for Office 365. No need to change records so they route through filtering services.

Bracket also includes an encrypted file transfer service, Bracket Share, which gives users a personalized file transfer page with an easy URL (share link) that they can provide to anyone. Shared files and messages show up in the Bracket inbox like a regular message. Other features include customizable links, personalized invitations, and sender validation.

“We are elated at the patent office’s acknowledgment of Bracket as a revolutionary encryption technology.” Says David Setzer, CEO of Mailprotector. “One of our core goals is to empower managed services providers with unique and highly valued services they can take to market. While our partners usually provide all the external validation we need, this patent confirms our commitment to technical innovation. Bracket gives MSPs a true advantage and differentiator in the security and encryption space, solves real end-user needs, and delivers highly profitable recurring revenue streams.”

Will Nobles, founder and CEO of IT services firm Vector Choice Technology Solutions, is leveraging Mailprotector’s encryption technology with a 1000 user healthcare provider, various attorneys, and other clients. “Innovations from our vendors, bringing new ideas like Bracket and Bracket Share, is invaluable to our business,” emphasizes Nobles. “With other systems, you have to install extensions in Outlook, and users have to follow multiple steps. Bracket is a lot easier to use, which means our clients are more apt to add the protection instead of sending email unencrypted.”

“Our design goal was to make security more accessible to users and our partners, not to create technology for technology’s sake,” adds Mailprotector’s CTO, Ben Hathaway. “That’s what makes Bracket special. The combination of ease of use with innovative and highly effective encryption. Our unique approach, detailed in the patent, allows us to offer users complete data privacy and security in a simple to use solution.”

About Mailprotector

Mailprotector empowers its users with a portfolio of cloud-based email security, management, and hosting services sold exclusively through the worldwide IT services channel. Products include inbound and outbound email security, email continuity, email archiving, email encryption, and business-class hosted email solutions. More information is available at www.mailprotector.com.

The Zebra reaches $100M run rate, turns profitable as insurtech booms

Source:  TechCrunch

By:  Alex Wilhelm

Screen Shot 2020-10-08 at 9.28.07 AM

From a cluster of insurance marketplace startups raising capital earlier this year, to neoinsurance provider Lemonade going public this summer at a strong valuation, Hippo’s huge new round and Root’s impending unicorn IPO, 2020 has proven to be a busy year for startups and other growth-oriented private tech companies focused on insurance.

That news cycle continues today, with The Zebra announcing that it has reached a roughly $100 million run rate, and, perhaps even more notably, that it has turned profitable.

TechCrunch most recently covered the car and home insurance marketplace startup in February, when it raised the first $38.5 million in a Series C eventually worth $43.5 million that Accel led. As we noted at the time, the startup joined “Insurify ($23 million), Gabi ($27 million) and Policygenius ($100 million) in raising new capital this year.”

The Zebra  released a number of financial performance metrics as part of its Series C cycle, including that it recorded revenues of $37 million in 2019, and that it had reached a $60 million annual run rate around the time of its Series C. The Zebra also said that it could double in size this year, putting it above a $100 million run rate by the end of 2020.

With that history in hand, let’s talk about the company’s more recent performance.

A changing market

According to the company, The Zebra recorded net revenue of $6 million in May, 2020. That number grew to around $8 million in September. For those of you able to multiply, $8 million times 12 is $96 million, or a hair under $100 million. According to a call with the The Zebra’s CEO Keith Melnick, the company’s September was very close to $8.3 million, a figure that would put it on a $100 million run rate.

Given that our $100 million ARR club has a history of granting startups a little wiggle room when it comes to their size, it seems perfectly fine to say that The Zebra has reached revenue scale of $100 million; at its current rate of growth, even if its final September revenue tally is a hair light. the company should reach a nine-figure topline pace in October.

According to Melnick, while the bulk of The Zebra’s revenue isn’t recurring, a growing portion of it is. Per the CEO, around 2-5% of The Zebra’s revenue was recurring last year, a figure that he said is up to around 10% today. (If The Zebra binds an insurance policy itself, and that policy is renewed, its commissions can recur.)

What drove the company’s quick 2020 growth? In part, the insurance market changed, with insurance networks that depended on in-person sales seeing their ability to drive business slow thanks to COVID-19. Insurance marketplaces like The Zebra stepped in to assist, helping move some offline demand online. Melnick detailed that dynamic to TechCrunch, adding that when certain advertising channels saw demand fall, his company was able to leverage inexpensive inventory.

A number of factors appear to have added to The Zebra’s rapid growth thus far in 2020. Our next question is whether other, related players in the insurtech startup space have seen similar acceleration. More on that in a few days.

Finally, regarding The Zebra, the company said that it is now profitable. Of course, profit is a squishy word in 2020, so we wanted to know precisely what the company meant by the statement. Per the company’s CEO, it is generating positive net income, the gold-standard for profitability as the metric is inclusive of all costs, including the non-cash expenses that startups tend to strip out of their numbers to make the results look better than they really are.

If other players in the insurtech space are surfing similar trajectories, all that capital that went into the sector around the start of the year is going to appear prescient.

Ballast Point Ventures Partners with Mailprotector

March 5, 2020 – Mailprotector, a Greenville, SC-based cybersecurity company, raised $5 million in growth equity funding from Ballast Point Ventures. The channel-centric company will use that capital to accelerate product development, grow sales and marketing efforts, and expand services to its strong and growing network of Managed Service Providers (MSPs). As part of the expansion, the company plans to add more than 30 positions across all departments at its Greenville, SC headquarters and other locations around the country.

The company has over a decade of experience providing highly available and highly secure email solutions to organizations around the world. As a cloud-based email security, compliance, encryption, and hosting platform, Mailprotector’s solution is engineered from the ground up with partners’ management needs as a top priority. Mailprotector puts a premium on user experience and security with its advanced product stack, including CloudFilter, SafeSend, SecureStore, XtraMail, CloudMail, Exchange+, and Bracket. The company’s patent-pending flagship email encryption product, Bracket, is as simple to use as it is secure.

“Mailprotector is dedicated to empowering our channel partners with highly valued services and profitable recurring revenue streams,” said David Setzer, Mailprotector founder & CEO. “We know that email is still the prime vector for cyber-attacks, especially financially crippling ransomware and phishing threats. This investment means we can supercharge the development of our world-class cybersecurity protection tools for our partners and their clients, giving them an even stronger first line of defense against cyber threats and user error,” Setzer added. “We were thrilled to find in Ballast Point a firm that aligns with our channel partner commitment and one who respects our stewardship responsibilities in those relationships.”

“We are excited to partner with David, CTO Ben Hathaway, and the entire Mailprotector team to drive continued email security leadership and technology innovation,” said Robert Faber, Partner at Ballast Point Ventures, who will join Mailprotector’s Board of Directors. “BPV has a long history of supporting high-growth software companies throughout the Southeast, and we have been impressed with David and his team as they have built industry-leading email security tools with limited outside capital investment.”

About Mailprotector
Mailprotector empowers its users with a portfolio of cloud-based email security, management, and hosting services sold exclusively through the channel to businesses, government, and non-profits around the world. Products include inbound and outbound email security, email continuity, email archiving, email encryption, and business-class hosted email solutions. More information is available at www.mailprotector.com.

About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately-owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast, and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in the firm’s target industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, and healthcare. Ballast Point Ventures has $360 million under management across three Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.

IRIS Selected as a Microsoft AI for Health Grantee

Source:   Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS)

PENSACOLA, Fla.Jan. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS), the industry leader in telemedicine solutions for diabetic retinal evaluation, was announced as a grantee for the Microsoft AI for Health Initiative. AI for Health, Microsoft’s newest initiative under their AI for Good program, will encompass a $40 million, 5-year program that will leverage AI to empower organizations like IRIS, and other companies in the realm of improving health.

 

“It has always troubled me when patients would come into my practice with severe late-stage eye damage and I couldn’t do anything to save their eyesight,” said Dr. Sunil Gupta, Retinal Surgeon and Founder at IRIS. “The opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the world at Microsoft means that together we will generate new ideas and insights that will ultimately improve access to care, improve our ability to find and treat retinal disease earlier, all the while allowing us to more successfully save eyesight.” CEO of IRIS, Steve Martin added, “We are honored to have been chosen to partner with Microsoft through this great initiative. The exciting part about this opportunity is working with Microsoft to explore new technologies that will accelerate the development of AI solutions at IRIS to save people’s vision.”

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness across the world and 463 million people are currently at risk. Early detection and effective treatment can reduce the risk of blindness up to 95%. Microsoft’s collaboration with research and the development of an AI solution will empower IRIS to bring retinal evaluations to underserved populations across the globe in an effort to end preventable blindness. Through the AI for Health initiative, efforts will center on three key areas: Quest for Discovery, Global Health Insights, and Health Equity.

IRIS is one of six initial grantees for the AI for Health initiative and is honored to be recognized with organizations like BRAC, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Novartis Foundation, PATH, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Each organization will work with Microsoft to use AI to decipher tough issues like discovering the cause of SIDS, eliminating leprosy, and building an ecosystem that allows safe and secure sharing of biomedical data.

The mission of the AI for Good program is to solve humanitarian issues and create a more sustainable and accessible world; this mission, combined with IRIS’ mission to eliminate preventable blindness shows a direct alignment and clearly demonstrates why this partnership will generate good for people.

About Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) is a Pensacola, Fla.-based company founded in 2011, with a vision to end preventable blindness through the development and deployment of retinal diagnostic services. The company’s IRIS solution includes an FDA Class II cleared medical device that has improved quality, expanded access and reduced costs for diabetic retinopathy exams across the U.S. For additional information visit our website: www.retinalscreenings.com

About Microsoft

Microsoft (@microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

 

 

Carterra® Closes Financing Round for Continued Growth of the LSA™ Platform for Next Generation Antibody Discovery

Source:  PRWeb

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Carterra® Inc., the world leader in high-throughput antibody screening and characterization, has closed a $6M round of financing led by Ballast Point Ventures with participation from current investor, Telegraph Hill Partners. The additional funding will support the continued adoption of the innovative Carterra LSA™ high-throughput Surface Plasmon Resonance (HT-SPR) antibody screening platform and the development of new products and applications.

The Carterra LSA revolutionizes the drug discovery process by enabling higher information content assays earlier in the discovery process¬¬—during antibody screening. The LSA can measure binding kinetics and affinities of hundreds of interactions in parallel and perform comprehensive epitope binning experiments on up to 384 antibodies simultaneously. By conducting detailed antibody characterization during screening, the Carterra LSA increases the efficiency and productivity of lead selection and reduces costs during drug discovery and development.

“Carterra’s proprietary technology addresses a key objective of the pharmaceutical industry by helping to minimize the time it takes to develop new therapeutics,” said Matt Rice, Partner at Ballast Point Ventures. “We’re excited to provide resources and guidance as Carterra continues its growth.”

Carterra has seen rapid uptake of its LSA platform among large pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, contract research organizations, and academic labs since its launch in late 2018. “We are honored to work with Ballast Point Ventures and Telegraph Hill Partners in our mission to help scientists push the boundaries of scientific discovery.” said Carterra CEO, Josh Eckman. “Researchers are seeing how the Carterra LSA can significantly shorten the lead selection timeline and provide insights that were not previously possible.”

About Carterra, Inc.
Carterra® is the leading provider of high throughput technologies designed to accelerate and improve the discovery of novel therapeutic candidates. Carterra’s LSA™ instrument, software, and consumables for monoclonal antibody (mAb) characterization deliver up to 100 times the throughput of existing platforms in 10% of the time while using only 1% of the sample required by other systems. The LSA combines patented microfluidics technology with real-time high throughput Surface Plasmon Resonance (HT-SPR) and industry-leading data analysis and visualization software to revolutionize mAb screening. Carterra, Inc. is based in Salt Lake City Utah, and has Customer Experience Centers in Dublin, California, Andover, Massachusetts and Munich, Germany. For additional information, please visit www.carterra-bio.com.

About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies in the healthcare, software and technology-enabled business services industries. For more information, please visit www.ballastpointventures.com.

About Telegraph Hill Partners
Telegraph Hill Partners, founded in 2001 and based in San Francisco and San Diego, CA, invests in innovative commercial stage life science, medical technology and healthcare companies. For more information please visit www.telegraphhillpartners.com.

 

SPOTIO Raises $4.5 Million from Ballast Point Ventures

Source:  SPOTIO

January 9, 2020 – SPOTIO, a Dallas-based software company providing cloud-based sales acceleration and performance management solutions for field sales personnel, is pleased to announce a $4.5 million Series A investment from Ballast Point VenturesThe platform’s robust, mobile-first feature set enables sales teams to manage sales territories, execute face-to-face meetings, and optimize the sales pipeline and performance across the outside sales organization. SPOTIO will use the investment to accelerate development of its technology pipeline, add to its sales team, and intensify its marketing efforts. 

“Built with the field sales representative and manager in mind, SPOTIO’s platform delivers a comprehensive mobile solution tailored towards providing actionable leads for outside sales reps in the field and unparalleled insight for managers back at the office. We provide both business-to-business outside sales personnel and residential sales teams the tools they need to execute and manage their outside sales activities,” said SPOTIO Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Trey Gibson.

“We are excited to bring an institutional investor into our company and are eager to get to work with Ballast Point Ventures. We look forward to this next leg of the journey and to continue to deliver a comprehensive solution to our many customers.”

“As BPV has gotten to know Trey over the last couple of years, we have been very impressed with the growth and success SPOTIO has been able to achieve with minimal outside investment. Given our focus on partnering with rapidly growing private companies with great management teams in the Southeast and Texas, SPOTIO is a great fit for us,” said Ballast Point Ventures’ Sean Barkman, who will join the SPOTIO Board of Directors.

“We are excited to partner with the entire SPOTIO team to drive continued growth and solidify the platform’s position as the leading outside sales enablement software.”

“We are excited to have another investment in the Dallas area,” continued Robert Faber, who will serve as a Board Observer at SPOTIO. “Trey is exactly the kind of entrepreneur that we want to work with, and we are excited about partnering with him after building a relationship with him for the last several years.”

About SPOTIO

SPOTIO is a mobile-first solution for outside sales teams to eliminate guesswork, and focus on the highest impact activity. The platform provides managers with real-time visibility into their team’s activities for improved sales development. Sales reps receive access to the mobile application with targeted prospect data, historical knowledge of each account, and document management functionality. Thousands of customers rely on SPOTIO to accelerate growth with their sales teams. SPOTIO is a privately held company based in Dallas, Texas.

For additional information, visit www.spotio.com.

About Ballast Point Ventures

Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, and healthcare. Ballast Point Ventures has $360 million under management across three Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million.

For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.

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