The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington state agency established in May 2005, makes (Proof of Concept PreCede) grant investments in innovative life sciences research to benefit Washington and its citizens.
Three, EcoGuide Medical, Viket Medical, and Nexgenia are all University of Washington start-up companies
SEATTLE, Washington, July 23, 2012 — The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today
announced nearly $570,000 in awards in its inaugural corporate grant program to support
commercialization of new health and health-care products by four early-stage Washingtonbased
Three of the new “PreCede” grants focus on improving the management of serious medical
conditions. Glenn Kawasaki of Carepeutics, Inc., will test a technology for predicting patient
responses to anticancer drugs to inform treatment decisions. Tom Sanko of EchoGuide Medical,
Inc. (formerly Harpoon Navigation, Inc.), will develop and test an ultrasound-guided system for
placing catheters in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid. Robert Wilcox of Viket Medical
Corporation will test a new approach for removing blood clots from the brains of individuals
who have suffered a type of stroke called intracranial hemorrhage.
The fourth grant, to Thomas Schulte of Nexgenia, Inc., will optimize and scale up novel reagents
to improve the speed and sensitivity of clinical assays for diagnosing various diseases.
The PreCede grant competition is designed to help position early-stage Washington life sciences
companies for near-term equity investment. PreCede grants support research and development
activities focused on validating the commercial merit of promising health-related technologies.
“LSDF has provided grant funding since 2007 to accelerate the movement of promising
technologies into the commercial marketplace,” stated LSDF Executive Director John DesRosier.
“Today’s grants represent LSDF’s first dedicated mechanism to provide funding directly to
companies. We have been encouraged and heartened by the strong support of and interest in
this grant program from Washington’s life sciences sector.”
(Editor’s Note: EcoGuide Medical, Viket Medical, and Nexgenia are all University of Washington start-up companies)
Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association President Chris Rivera noted that PreCede grants meet a vital need within the state’s life sciences community, particularly in the current funding climate. “These grants support activities such as ‘proof of concept’ studies and prototype construction and testing that are critical for attracting angel and venture capital investment to complete development and successfully launch new products.”
The PreCede awards were chosen from the eight proposals reviewed in the competition. National experts recruited by the American Association for the Advancement of Science evaluated the scientific and technical merit of the projects, and panels of commercialization and financial experts assessed each project’s commercial potential and possible health and economic benefits. The LSDF Board of Trustees made the final award selections.
“A robust for-profit life sciences sector in Washington is critical for commercialization and market penetration of new products, which are in turn expected to lead to both health and economic benefits for our state,” explained Lura Powell, chair of the LSDF Board of Trustees. “The board is pleased to use PreCede grant funding to both move new health-related products forward and foster the development of the state’s for-profit life sciences community.”
LSDF will continue to offer grant funding for both for-profit and non-profit Washington organizations, with granting programs to be announced in August 2012. Additional information will be posted on the LSDF website at http://www.lsdfa.org/ as it is available.
Funding for PreCede grant awards comes from Washington’s allocation of payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.