A lucky place is somewhere that people believe helps them to be successful. And in March 2012, an otherwise bleak time for biotech venture capital, after we announced the 2nd Series A financing (Valerion) in nine months, a lucky place is what Micah Rosenbloom, CEO of the first company, Sample6, proclaimed the VDC to be.
Lucky? Well, given how dire things were at the time, the financings might well not have occurred. Venture capital investing in companies like Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga overshadowed all things biotech. Worry about how much time and money it takes to bring new drugs, devices, and diagnostics to market made it much more difficult for many venture firms to raise new funds to keep investing, and the ranks of venture capitalists active investing in biotech thinned out.
But we here at the VDC knew that there were many promising young biotech entrepreneurs in university labs in the Boston area. Given the right companies coupled with the right environment the potential returns were there. They just needed the right place to prove their concepts.
The right place turned out to be one that is convenient, flexible, affordable and fully equipped. It allows promising biotech entrepreneurs to accomplish a strategic step moving from their academic labs to a more commercial environment where they can acquire the required data to secure financing.
We first thought of building such a place in 2004, and opened the VDC in 2009, the first in the region. Valerion, Sample6 and Factor Biosciences joined us.
As word about our offering spread, we were overwhelmed with interest. Of 105 applications received we were only able to accommodate three of them – Parabase Genomics, eGenesis and SQZ Biotech. All three have succeeded in raising Series A financing.
Meanwhile the VDC success continues with enEvolv and Platelet Biogenesis expanding to new facilities of their own in January 2018 with financings in hand. Both companies will continue VDC membership after moving in order to keep using UMass Boston’s animal, flow cytometry and imaging core facilities.
That means there’s lab space available for others seeking good fortune. Please feel free to refer.
Micah’s right, the VDC is a lucky place! We find the harder we work the more we have of it.