Cabinet for Economic Development
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces New Funding for Life Science Ventures
MetaCyte receives $1.5 million in KEDFA and matching funds;
PGXL Laboratories inks $500,000 agreement with San-Diego-based Nanogen, Inc.
LOUISVILLE – Governor Ernie Fletcher presented today $750,000 in funding from the state’s high-tech investment pool to support the work of MetaCyte Business Lab. The funding, earmarked for the fiscal year 2006 and approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), will support MetaCyte’s activities in creating and launching life science companies in Louisville.
“Building Kentucky’s share of the $46 billion U.S. biosciences industry has been a major goal of my administration,” said Governor Fletcher. “I believe the MetaCyte Business Lab is a solid investment toward this goal.”
According to Steve Gailar, MetaCyte president and CEO, the organization is a 21st century update to the traditional business incubator.
“Think of MetaCyte as a ‘manufacturing’ company whose products are health science start-ups,” Gailar explained. “MetaCyte proactively identifies promising local raw material, in the form of a scientific discovery or innovative technological service, and turns that raw material into products—health science start-ups.”
KEDFA was established within the Cabinet for Economic Development to encourage economic development, business expansion, and job creation by providing financial support through an array of financial assistance and tax credit programs. The state’s high-tech investment pool is administered by the Cabinet’s Department of Commercialization and Innovation, which is leading the statewide initiative to spur the growth of the knowledge-based new economy in Kentucky.
According to Gailar, the funds will support recruitment of experts in clinical regulatory issues and drug and device development to the MetaCyte team. “If we can help our companies more quickly identify and follow the best path to regulatory approval, we can save significant investor dollars and speed the entire process,” Gailar said
Matching funds are being provided by the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government in the amount of $400,000 and by $350,000 of in-kind contributions from the Louisville Medical Center Development Corporation and other MetaCyte partners.
“Establishment of new, independently funded Louisville-based health science employers is exactly what government investments in organizations like MetaCyte should lead to,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who also serves as chairman of the Louisville Medical Center Development Corporation (LMCDC). “By building and attracting businesses that employ professionals at high salaries, we are improving the economic and social well-being of all Louisvillians.”
A MetaCyte Start-Up Passes Major Milestone
One of MetaCyte’s portfolio businesses, PGXL Laboratories, also announced today the successful acquisition of significant private funding – the first major milestone on a young company’s road to success and financial independence.
Roland Valdes, President of PGXL and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Louisville, announced an agreement with San Diego-based Nanogen, Inc. for $500,000 in year-one funding.
“When we went to speak with the Nanogen representatives, they had already conducted a survey of this growing field and had identified us as a top prospect for equity investment,” Valdes explained. “We quickly developed a friendly contract, and have already met three of the five goals set for us in the first year.”
According to U of L President Jim Ramsey, the PGXL investment and expansion is indicative of the strides the university is making to support the commercialization of scientific discoveries by its faculty.
“By supporting the development and growth of companies like PGXL, we see positive change for patients and physicians much more quickly than if these discoveries were confined to the academic arena,” Ramsey said.
According to Valdes, PGXL will use the Nanogen investment to expand its laboratory space at 201 E. Jefferson Street – MetaCyte’s headquarters – as well as for expanding equipment and staffing.
PGXL Laboratories provides DNA testing for patient sensitivity to a broad range of common drugs. The service provides patient-specific information that can help physicians customize drug dosages, improve patient care and, ultimately, save millions in health care dollars spent on the antiquated pharmacological “trial and error” system, Valdes explained.