Kelly Kearsley, startupbend.com

The Cascade Angels Fund 2016 announced an investment in Amplion, the Bend-based bioscience startup and inventor of Biomarker Base. The latter helps companies stay on top of developments in the clinical and commercial use of biomarkers.

“Strategic partnerships with funds like Cascade Angels and other Oregon investors are critical to the success of Oregon’s entrepreneurial efforts and will help to accelerate our expansion,” says John Zicker, Amplion’s new CEO, in a news release. The Cascade Angels Fund 2014 also invested in Amplion as part of the Bend Venture Conference LLC that same year.

The company recently hired Zicker, who is a five-time entrepreneur in the software fields of business intelligence, security and crowd-sourced marketplaces. His previous companies all went public or were acquired by larger corporations. The new CEO says that Amplion will use these new Cascade Angels funds to grow its sales and marketing teams, and focus on its core machine learning technology and analytics platform.

“So far our focus has resulted in new customer acquisition last quarter including two large, well-known pharmaceutical companies and several well-known diagnostic companies,” Zicker says.

Amplion was founded by John Audette and Adam Carroll, who are president and chief science officer respectively. Chris Kraybill, the company’s CTO and the former CTO of G5, is also a co-founder. Amplion won the Bend Venture Conference in 2014 and ultimately raised a seed round of $1 million.

In a recent Built Oregon podcast, Audette discusses how he wanted to start a company that made an impact on healthcare by helping translate the significant investment made in discovering biomarkers into real medical advancements.

If you have 41 minutes, the podcast is certainly worth a listen. Audette digs into the significance of biomarkers and Amplion’s vision for how they can be used. He also delivers some entertaining anecdotes including how he and Carroll build the company’s initial database, essentially manually, by locking themselves in a room and grinding through records for about a year — taking breaks only for nerf basketball games.

Cascade Angels has invested in 10 companies over three years. “Central Oregon based companies comprise six of the 10 investments made thus far,” says Julie Harrelson, CEO of Harrelson Group whose firm manages the Fund. Other Bend companies funded by the group include Droplr, Manzama, Odysys, LeadMethod and most recently, Cairn.