Industry News and Notes – May 2012

Trenton Report

Attention Technology Entrepreneurs — TechLaunch Wants You
NJ’s Technology Accelerator Now Taking Applications for 2012 Inaugural Class

TechLaunchMONTCLAIR — New Jersey wants to support technology entrepreneurs and is putting its money where its mouth is. Applications are now open for the inaugural class of the State’s latest start-up venture, TechLaunch, funded in part by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). BioNJ is a TechLaunch supporter.

Modeled after successful programs throughout the United States and abroad, New Jersey’s premier technology accelerator offers seed funding within an intensive 12-week, mentor-driven business development program—called LaunchPad—culminating with an investor conference and Demo Day.

Following a rigorous selection process, an intriguing mix of 10-12 Portfolio Companies will receive $18,000 to $20,000 of seed capital and, with the help of a network of successful entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors will attempt to transform their ideas into successful businesses. Until now, aspiring entrepreneurs in New Jersey had to look to New York City, Philadelphia, or beyond to pursue their start-up dreams with the help of an accelerator program.

“We’re looking to attract top-tier talent who would otherwise leave the state because the support infrastructure simply wasn’t there,” says founder and managing partner Mario Casabona, himself a seasoned entrepreneur and Angel investor.

He continues, “Although there is a rapidly developing tech ecosystem in New Jersey, for tech start-ups, there’s been a void for those not yet ready for later-stage incubators or for the investment community per se. We’re now able to de-risk the start-up challenges to aspiring tech entrepreneurs by promoting the commercialization of innovative ideas right in our own backyard, especially applications that support key NJ industries such as biotech, pharma, healthcare, or transportation.”

The first TechLaunch program, also known as LaunchPad I, will take place at Montclair State University. Casabona notes, “Montclair State is a perfect venue for our inaugural class. It not only provides easy access for New Jersey residents as well as state-of-the-art facilities, but also is ideally situated just 13 miles west of New York City, the current tech and investment hub on the east coast. The collaboration with the university also provides a campus setting, 24-hour dining options, and even offers residential housing for those portfolio companies looking to relocate for the 12-week program.”

EDA CEO Caren Franzini notes, “We are embarking on a competition for innovation to reveal New Jersey’s entrepreneurial strengths, using a model that provides a potential return on the EDA’s investment and allows New Jersey to compete with neighboring states to maintain and attract technology talent.”

Casabona adds, “There is a great network already in place throughout the State to cultivate technology companies. TechLaunch is a feeder to this pipeline, and we see the potential to add hundreds of jobs in New Jersey in the near term.”

To learn more about TechLaunch or to apply for the 2012 program, visit the website.

EDA and CITI Launch Global Growth Financing Program

TRENTON — In support of the Christie Administration’s focus on helping small and mid-size companies expand their global reach, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Citi’s Commercial Banking group on May 1 announced the launch of the New Jersey Global Growth Financing Program. This new program will provide low-interest loans to New Jersey companies currently engaged in or looking to engage in international trade.

“Through our proactive outreach to the business community, we discovered a real need for competitively priced financing to help New Jersey companies expand globally,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “The New Jersey Global Growth Financing Program will provide access to capital and international market expertise, helping New Jersey businesses remain competitive, expand their operations, and create new jobs.”

Through the New Jersey Global Growth Financing Program, Citi will provide up to $50 million in term loans and lines of credit to New Jersey companies over the next three years. The EDA will offer guarantees on individual transactions of up to 50 percent of the Citi financing, not to exceed $1.5 million for term loans and $500,000 for lines of credit. To be eligible, businesses must have been in business for at least two years and have annual sales of $5 million to $50 million.


Washington Report

BIO Lauds Senate Passage of User Fee Package

WASHINGTON, DC — Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood issued the following statement on May 24 in support of the U.S. Senate’s approval of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA):

“BIO commends the bipartisan Senate approval of FDASIA, which includes a reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA).

“In particular, we appreciate the leadership shown by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) to craft a bipartisan measure that will continue to ensure patient safety, access to the newest cures and therapies, and job growth in America. FDASIA reflects the enhancements to PDUFA agreed upon by industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It will enhance the development and review of innovative new therapies through increased transparency and scientific dialogue, advancements in regulatory science, and strengthened post-market review.

“The inclusion of an enhanced Accelerated Approval pathway, crafted by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), will help expedite the development of modern, targeted, and personalized therapies for patients suffering from serious and life-threatening diseases while preserving the FDA’s robust standards for safety and effectiveness. Senator Hagan is to be congratulated for her hard work and leadership on this very important provision.

“FDASIA also enables a transparent, predictable, and balanced regulatory framework for the review and approval of biosimilars by establishing reasonable performance goals and dedicated, independent funding for biosimilar review activities. This will allow the FDA to continue to prioritize the review of innovative drugs and biologics so that safe and effective new therapies – many for currently serious, untreatable diseases – can be available to the patients who need them.”

Click here to learn more.

BIO Statement on New Bill to Extend Therapeutic Discovery Project Tax Credit

WASHINGTON, DC — The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on May 24 issued a statement applauding Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for introducing the “The Extension of the Therapeutic Discovery Project Tax Credit” (S. 3232), which will extend and improve the critical TDP program to support breakthrough medical discovery, innovation, and job creation in American companies and bolster America’s global competitiveness.

“The biotechnology industry is critical to America’s competitiveness in the 21st-century economy. Biotech labs employ dedicated scientists and researchers, whose discoveries could lead to a groundbreaking cures for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or HIV/AIDS,” said Senator Menendez. “Manufacturing these breakthrough therapies is already creating thousands of high-paying jobs, and extending this critical tax credit not only will create more good jobs here in America, but also keep us at the forefront of life-saving innovation.”

Click here to learn more.

House and Energy Commerce Committee Backs PDUFA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, DC — Proposed legislation to reauthorize the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) was endorsed on May 9 in a 46-0 vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The draft legislation approved by the committee includes an accelerated approval pathway provision as envisioned in the Transforming the Regulatory Environment to Accelerate Access to Treatments (TREAT) Act and the Faster Access to Specialized Treatments (FAST) Act. It will help expedite the development of modern, targeted, and personalized therapies for patients suffering from serious and life-threatening diseases while preserving the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) robust standards for safety and effectiveness. The House bill also includes provisions of the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act and calls for the permanent reauthorization of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) and the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA).

It is likely the PDUFA reauthorization will be considered by the House of Representatives in the next few weeks and will also be considered by the Senate in the near future.

BioNJ and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) have been advocating for passage of the PDUFA reauthorization. In a letter to the committee, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood wrote:

“The bill will enhance the drug development and review process through increased transparency and scientific dialogue, advance regulatory science, and strengthen post-market surveillance. It also provides a transparent, predictable performance goals and a dedicated, independent funding stream to ensure that FDA can facilitate the development and evaluation of biosimilars products. BIO appreciates the inclusion of the enhanced accelerated approval pathway provision, which will help expedite the development of modern, targeted, and personalized therapies for patients suffering from serious and life-threatening diseases, while preserving robust standards for safety and effectiveness.”

BioNJ President Debbie Hart noted, “PDUFA, especially in this enhanced form, is such an important vehicle for moving drugs through the process and its expeditious passage is essential.”

Please click here to read the full letter.

BioNJ will continue to update the New Jersey biotechnology community as the PDUFA reauthorization progresses through Congress.

Obama Administration Releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint

WASHINGTON, DC — Noting biotechnology’s potential to discover new therapies for unmet medical needs, foster economic growth, and contribute critical societal benefits, the White House on April 26 released its National Bioeconomy Blueprint. The document defines the bioeconomy as an “economic activity that is fueled by research and innovation in the biological sciences” and identifies the bioeconomy as a priority for the Obama Administration.

Issuing a statement on the report, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said: “BIO applauds President Obama’s leadership in creating a National Bioeconomy Blueprint and identifying the bioeconomy as a priority for his Administration. We appreciate the President’s recognition of the need to clear the path for American innovation and ingenuity and unleash the tremendous promise of biotechnology to help solve many of the biggest challenges facing our nation today and foster economic growth throughout the United States.”

BioNJ President Debbie Hart noted, “The recognition of this important industry by President Obama in the form of this blueprint speaks to the contributions of the industry to the past, present, and future economy of the United States.”

Click here to learn more.

BIO Thanks Reps. Pascrell, Bilbray for Policy That Levels the Playing Field for Renewable Chemicals

WASHINGTON, DC — Clearing the path for commercialization of homegrown renewable chemical technology can enhance energy security and create well-paying new opportunities in the United States. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on April 27 thanked Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) for introducing legislation that reduces taxes for U.S. producers of renewable chemicals building new biorefineries.

Brent Erickson, executive vice-president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “Industrial biotechnology developed here in the United States enables production of chemicals used in common household products from renewable biomass instead of oil. This technology can reduce reliance on foreign oil and contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment. It can also revitalize U.S. chemical and product manufacturing, generate tens of thousands of new employment opportunities, boost economic growth, and improve our balance of trade – if the technology is commercialized here in the United States. This tax break for U.S. producers of renewable chemicals can ensure that the United States maintains its competitiveness in chemical production by commercializing homegrown innovation.”

Click here to learn more.


News from Our Colleges and Universities

Working with Rutgers E-Source

New Brunswick — The May edition of the e-letter Working with Rutgers: An E-source for Corporations & Businesses is now available. Click here to learn more.

Tech Transfer at UMDNJ

New BrunswickTECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, the quarterly newsletter from the UMDNJ Office of Technology Transfer and Business Development, is now available. Click here to learn more.


Items of Note

Six BioNJ Members among NJBIZ Best Places to Work

Congratulations to the six BioNJ Members who were among those companies that were recognized in NJBIZ‘s list of the 2012 Best Places to Work.

Small/Medium (15-249 employees) Category

  • Elusys Therapeutics
  • NPS Pharmaceuticals
  • Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, OC

Large (250-plus employees) Category

  • Grant Thornton
  • Lowenstein Sandler
  • Novo Nordisk, Inc.