OHSU Technologies Spur Record Number of Startups

08/12/04    Portland, Ore.

Seven bioscience companies - all locally based - were formed on OHSU technologies in the university's fiscal year 2004

Technologies discovered and developed by Oregon Health & Science University researchers spurred the formation of more bioscience companies during the last year than in any single previous year in the university's history. Between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004, seven bioscience companies were founded as the result of OHSU research, breaking the previous year's record of six.

"This accomplishment represents one of the many ways OHSU is making a return on the public investment Oregonians have made in the university through the Oregon Opportunity," said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU vice president for research. "Over the next decade, as new facilities come on line, the Oregon Opportunity will fuel an expansion of research capacity that will lead to discoveries that improve health care and fuel new company growth."

In 2002 Oregon voters approved by an overwhelming majority $200 million in tobacco settlement funds to support the Oregon Opportunity and help make Oregon a leader in bioscience research. Through the Oregon Opportunity, OHSU is retaining and recruiting top-tier scientists, building and renovating research facilities, developing new programmatic initiatives and centers of excellence, supporting translational research activities, and commercializing technology.

"A key ingredient to the success of the Oregon Opportunity is OHSU's commitment to increasingly foster technology transfer and start-up industry development in the state of Oregon," said Dorsa. All seven OHSU startups are based in the Portland metropolitan area with six located in Oregon and one in Vancouver, Wash. During the last three years, OHSU has spunoff 16 companies for a total of 51 OHSU startups.

"While we are making progress, addressing identified challenges to capturing breakthroughs and keeping them in the state is a collaborative effort among OHSU, the state's other educational institutions, the business community and state, city and local officials," said Arundeep Pradhan, director of OHSU Technology and Research Collaborations (TRC). OHSU is working with Oregon's business community to help create the infrastructure for bioscience industry development. Initiatives are focused on areas such as venture capital, technology transfer and educational programs. Some of these include:

Advancing technologies to the proof of concept stage.

Last year the OHSU Foundation began investing $250,000 per year for five years to create a Bioscience Innovation Fund - a "pre-seed" fund that will fill a crucial gap between federal research dollars and the seed funds invested by venture capitalists to develop products. The fund will be a financial resource for OHSU investigators carrying out research essential to moving intellectual property and potentially patentable ideas to what is termed the "proof of concept" stage. At that stage, discoveries are considered marketable and may be licensed to a company or used to found a startup company.

Reaching out to OHSU startups.
New businesses founded on discoveries made at OHSU are getting a boost from a new suite of accounting, business development and legal services provided by the university called the Springboard Project. The project gives eligible OHSU startups access to experts in business plan development and review, local venture capitalists, and mentoring from local entrepreneurs. Springboard Project companies also receive financial support for incorporation, other initial legal expenses and a year of accounting services. OHSU startups are chosen to participate in the Springboard Project through a competitive review process.

Training biomedical engineers and leaders for knowledge-led industries.
The university has established a new Department of Biomedical Engineering at the OHSU OGI School of Science & Engineering. This new department will form a crucial bridge between engineering and medicine. It is Oregon's only graduate degree program in this rapidly growing field. To spearhead this new effort, OHSU recruited Stephen Hanson, Ph.D., an internationally known researcher who helped to build a similar, highly regarded program at Emory University. Hanson is a successful entrepreneur who is already working on developing new business ventures with OHSU.

The OGI School of Science and Engineering has begun an initiative called the Center for Technology Entrepreneurship in cooperation with Oregon Entrepreneurs Forum. OGI, PSU and the AeA have launched a program, "Essentials of General Management for Emerging High Technology Leaders," which targets up-and-coming managers who are recommended by their supervisors to gain skills they need to succeed at the senior management level.

Bringing the scientific and business communities together. TRC staff have developed a free, ongoing workshop series to explore the protection and commercialization of research breakthroughs and new technologies developed at OHSU.

Through TRC, the university transfers discoveries resulting from its clinical, educational and research activities to companies for commercial development and, when appropriate, creates new ventures. As of June 30, 2003, OHSU scientists disclosed more than 500 inventions, resulting in nearly $9 million in licensing revenues. This revenue is used to advance OHSU's teaching and research activities. Visit http://www.ohsu.edu/tech-transfer/ for more information about TRC.



-- Advanced PsychSystems is a behavioral health care software company specializing in automating the collection of intake data from patients with mental health or substance abuse problems. Advanced PsychSystems' products enable mental health or substance abuse clients to provide routinely collected information, such as demographics, clinical history and family history on their own or with minimal assistance. The software then generates narrative reports for clinical use. The company is based on technology developed by Bentson McFarland, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, and public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Recently founded Agilis Medical Inc. will develop and commercialize stroke rehabilitation technology that was developed under the direction of Paul Cordo, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Neurological Sciences Institute. This technology is directly applicable to both sub-acute and chronic stroke victims and has great promise for other neuromuscular pathologies, including sports or occupational injury, muscle tremor, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

-- Artielle Immuno Therapeutics Inc. is an autoimmune therapeutics company spun off from another OHSU startup, Virogenomics. Artielle has developed a lead compound for the treatment of multiple sclerosis called RTL 1000 that has received Orphan Drug status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Artielle is based on technologies licensed from OHSU that were developed by Arthur Vandenbark, Ph.D., professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, and research professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and research career scientist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Gregory Burrows, Ph.D., research associate professor of neurology, and research assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the OHSU School of Medicine; and Halina Offner, Dr. Med., professor of neurology and anesthesiology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

-- Biospeech Inc. uses cutting-edge speech and language technologies to develop products that help patients with a broad range of communication and neurodevelopmental disorders. Biospeech Inc. is based on technologies invented at the Center for Spoken Language Understanding. Jan van Santen, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering in the OHSU OGI School of Science & Engineering, directs the Center for Spoken Language Understanding.

-- Columbia Biotechnologies Corporation is developing new pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical therapies for the skin care market. Their initial products will focus on treatments for psoriasis. The company is founded on technology developed by Paul Cook, Ph.D., former assistant professor of dermatology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

-- Najit Technologies Inc. was founded to develop accurate and rapid diagnostic tests for bioterrorism agents such as smallpox and monkeypox. The company also is developing antibody-based therapeutics for several emerging infectious diseases as well as for treatment of specific types of cancer. This technology is based on discoveries made by Mark Slifka, Ph.D., a scientist at the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.

-- Revitus is a drug development company with two pharmaceutical product candidates in its pipeline. Its products are designed to produce safe and specific pharmacological treatment for prevention of thrombotic vascular disorders, including heart attack and stroke.

Revitus was founded on technologies developed by Stephen Hanson, Ph.D., head of biomedical engineering at the OHSU OGI School of Science & Engineering, and Andras Gruber, M.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering in the OGI School of Science & Engineering.