Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Board approves new round of Accelerator Program loans

December 18, 2013

Announces opening of next round of applications

WALTHAM, Mass. –  The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), a quasi-public agency charged with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1-billion Life Sciences Initiative, today announced the awarding of $1.5 million in loans to two early-stage life sciences companies and the launch of the application period for the next round of its Accelerator Loan Program. The MLSC will begin accepting applications tomorrow, December 19, with applications due by noon EST February 3, 2014, via the MLSC’s website at www.masslifesciences.com.  

“Entrepreneurship is essential to the strength of our innovation economy, and investments like the Life Sciences Center’s Accelerator program are playing a critical role in helping early-stage life sciences companies," said Governor Deval Patrick. “We look forward to working with these companies as they put down roots and grow in Massachusetts, supporting the future of innovation right here.”

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 $16.2 million in loans to 25 companies, which have generated more than $105 million in additional equity or acquisition proceeds. Six of these companies have paid back their Accelerator loans early with interest.

The companies that were authorized today to receive Accelerator loans (pending additional due diligence by MLSC staff) are as follows:

•    Guided Surgery Solutions ($520,000 - Wellesley) is a medical device company developing 3D image-based drill guides to enable dentists to place dental implants with greater accuracy and confidence. The ThinLayer™ Drill Guide System was invented by a local periodontist who experienced design and cost limitations with existing guide systems. The company is currently focused on expanding distribution channels, creating marketing and training materials for dentists, and scaling existing processes.

•    Vaxess Technologies ($1 million – Cambridge) is a biotechnology company planning to increase global vaccine access by using silk biomaterials to create vaccines that no longer need refrigeration. Their innovative platform technology stabilizes vaccines so they can be stored and shipped around the world without refrigeration – eliminating the need for the cold chain.  The company is in the process of scaling up a fully functional product development process, including lab space, equipment, and a team of scientists, engineers, and technicians.

“The companies that have received Accelerator loans from the Center have been making extraordinary progress in attracting private capital, creating jobs and advancing important new medical technologies to the marketplace,” said MLSC President & CEO Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D.  “We are pleased to add Guided Surgery Solutions and Vaxess Technologies to our Accelerator portfolio, and we look forward to the impact that the Center’s investment will have on the development of their exciting technologies.”

Moving a molecule from bench to bedside is perhaps the most challenging task in biotech today,” said Steve Seiler, Chief Executive Officer of AesRx, a previous Accelerator award recipient.  “The Massachusetts Life Science Center (MLSC) Accelerator loan had a catalytic effect in helping AesRx move our Aes-103 sickle cell program forward.  It provided an important source of funding for our company at a time when Aes-103 was still in pre-clinical development.  We presented exciting results from a Phase 1/2a trial of Aes-103 at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and thanks in part to assistance from the MLSC, Aes-103 is now in Phase 2.  It shows promise to be the first direct anti-sickling drug ever developed for this devastating disease.”

Applications were subjected to a double-blind, rigorous peer review, followed by an evaluation by the MLSC’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).  Applicants were then further screened by the MLSC’s Investment Sub-Committee of the Board of Directors, through a process that included a live presentation by finalists. Final awards were determined by the MLSC’s Board of Directors.

Final awards for the next round are projected to be announced in May of 2014. Information sessions for potential applicants will be held throughout January 2014 in various locations around Massachusetts. Dates and locations are listed on the MLSC’s web site.

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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