Going straight for the value

Torrey Pines Investment and BioMotiv structure multimillion-dollar partnership for drug development

Jeffrey Bouley
SAN DIEGO—California-based specialty life-science investorTorrey Pines Investment (TPI) has teamed up with Cleveland, Ohio-basedaccelerator company BioMotiv, with the pair signing a multimillion-dollar jointinvestment framework to fund early-stage life-science programs and companiesover the next seven years.
 
The agreement will, as the two parties describe, "fundinnovative ideas emerging from research institutions with a focus on creatingnew medicines by quickly and cost-effectively moving platforms, compounds and candidatesfrom early-stage development through clinical proof of concept."
 
 
The companies don't plan to limit their options, intendingto invest across multiple therapeutic areas and disease targets, and thetechnologies can come from any location worldwide, which means bothorganizations can tap into their regional and global research and developmentnetworks for maximum value.
 
"This framework will provide an outstanding platform forthis effort and will help to take advantage of each partner's networks,resources, knowledge and expertise in innovative drug discovery anddevelopment," said Ronald Demuth, president of TPI, in the Aug. 12 news releaseabout the deal, noting that he was pleased to partner with BioMotiv in no smallpart because it has an "ambitious team … pioneering new ways to acceleratetranslation of academic research into new medicines and therapies."
 
While the partnership isn't limiting itself to a specificfocus area, BioMotiv CEO Baiju Shah says the partnership is itself veryfocused, at least on technology and other tangible assets that can bedeveloped.
 
 
"We are not looking to primarily invest in existingcompanies," Shah tells DDNews. "What weare focused on—and this is a shared alignment with Torrey Pines—is assets. It'sa subtle but key differentiator. We want to  take technology or compounds into our joint control and takecontrol of continued development. We are not looking to support free-standingbiotech companies and fund their ongoing operations."
 
Shah says the focus of initial work between BioMotiv and TPIunder the new framework has been in the United States.
 
 
"This is where we are clearly resident," he says, "and somost of our activity has been in the United States. But as we expand ournetwork, we are starting to receive interesting opportunities originating fromoverseas technology sources, whether academic research institutions or others,and we are beginning to consider those opportunities as well, in partnershipwith groups that have a stronger basis than us in those geographies."
 
 
One of the reasons BioMotiv was keen to team up with TPI wasthat the San Diego company brings expertise in small-molecule development andthe chemistry side of things, all the way through clinical development. Shahnotes that BioMotiv didn't want to build those capabilities in-house. Inaddition, TPI's network provides BioMotiv access to new technology sources andexperienced development capabilities.
 
"What we bring is experienced pharmaceutical projectdirectors," he adds. "It's a very natural partnership, as we bring our skillsin project management and the financial side, and they bring clinical studyexpertise."
 
 
BioMotiv is associated with the Harrington Project forDiscovery and Development, a national initiative centered at University HospitalsCase Medical Center in Cleveland.
BioMotiv sources technology platforms and compoundopportunities through relationships with research institutions, diseasefoundations and industry—with an interest in all disease areas and types oftherapeutics, including small molecules, antibodies, proteins, cell therapiesand nucleotides—and advances products to the point of clinical proof-of-conceptbefore partnering them for further development. BioMotiv seeks opportunitiesfrom preclinical to early-clinical stages of development, and it also considersdrug repurposing opportunities.
 
TPI, founded in 2002, features a team of investmentprofessionals with extensive experience in entrepreneurship, venture capitaland operations, and it has created biopharma incubators investing inearly-development stage assets from international pharma and biotech partnersin central nervous system applications, oncology and virology "to bring them tocommercial success through pharma partnering and M&A."

Jeffrey Bouley

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