Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announces next round of Life Sciences Accelerator Loan Program

July 1, 2013

The MLSC’s flagship investment program provides working capital to early-stage companies

WALTHAM, Mass. –  The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1-billion Life Sciences Initiative, announced today the launch of the eighth round of its Accelerator Loan Program, the MLSC’s flagship investment program that provides working capital to early-stage life sciences companies. The MLSC is now accepting applications for this program that are due by noon EDT August 5, 2013, on the MLSC’s web site at www.masslifesciences.com.

Launched in 2009, the program offers loans of up to $1 million per company and seeks to “de-risk” start-up companies that are in need of financing to serve as flexible working capital or for the purchase of capital assets. The program provides support to companies at a critical stage of their development cycle, enabling them to conduct vital research and proof of concept studies, and attract subsequent investment while improving the odds of bringing cutting-edge innovation to the marketplace.

To date, the Accelerator Loan Program has awarded $17.2 million in loans to 26 companies, which have generated more than $105 million in additional equity or acquisition proceeds. Six of these companies -- Good Start Genetics, InVivo Therapeutics, 4s3 Bioscience, Pluromed, MoMelan and most recently Avaxia Biologics -- have paid back their Accelerator loans early with interest.

“The Center’s Accelerator Loan Program fills a critical gap in the life cycle of promising early-stage companies with a high potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth and private equity financing,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the MLSC. “Through this program we provide the Center’s endorsement of promising young companies, promote their visibility and create leverage for the institutional investors who can further help move these companies forward.”

“Our 2010 Accelerator loan from the MLSC was of critical importance to Avaxia’s early growth,” said Barbara S. Fox, CEO of Avaxia Biologics Inc., a privately-held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company based in Lexington, Mass. Avaxia repaid its Accelerator loan with interest in December 2012. “The MLSC reviewers evaluated our programs, identified the key areas we needed to address in order to successfully raise private funding, and provided the resources we needed to clear those initial hurdles. That early funding and the credibility that came with MLSC support allowed us to raise funds and advance our lead product into clinical testing for ulcerative colitis. We have now raised a total of $10.5 million from private investors and have hired 13 full-time employees in Massachusetts. We honestly would not have been able to get there without the support of the taxpayers of Massachusetts, and we are proud to be able to repay the loan in full.”

As in all past rounds of the Accelerator Loan Program, applications will be subjected to a rigorous evaluation process, including a double-blind peer review, evaluation by the MLSC’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and further screening by the MLSC’s Investment Sub-committee of the Board of Directors, which includes an in-person live presentation by finalists. Final awards are scheduled to be announced by the MLSC’s Board of Directors in December of 2013. Information sessions for potential applicants will be held throughout July in various locations. Dates and locations are listed on the MLSC’s web site.

“We look forward to reviewing the eighth round of Accelerator Loan Program applications,” said Dr. Harvey Lodish, Chair of the MLSC Scientific Advisory Board, Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Professor of Biology and Professor of Bioengineering at MIT. “Composed of leaders from Massachusetts’ universities and medical schools and from venture capital and industry sectors, our Scientific Advisory Board evaluates each application for the importance, quality, and novelty of the project; for the company’s business plan; and for its projected use of MLSC funds that can enable it to secure additional funding. Since the Accelerator Loan Program’s inception, this rigorous review process has yielded a strong group of small companies able to develop their innovative science or engineering and ultimately introduce new patient therapies or diagnostics to market.”

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a 10-year, $1-billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The MLSC’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties among sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.

About the Life Sciences Accelerator Loan Program
In order to expand life-sciences-related employment opportunities, promote health-related innovations and stimulate research and development, manufacturing and commercialization in the life sciences, the Life Sciences Accelerator Loan Program provides loans to companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization, and manufacturing in Massachusetts. Target entities are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high-potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth and downstream private equity financing. The program is designed to help sustain these companies through a critical stage of development and to leverage additional sources of capital to bring cutting-edge innovation to the marketplace.

 

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