JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 6, 2017
“This is the story about all the right elements coming together at the right time to show Oregon’s success in growing and accelerating bioscience startups here,” say both the Oregon Bioscience Association and OTRADI Bioscience Incubator leaders. Oregon is home to more than 840 bioscience firms and research institutions.
CONTACT: Jennifer Fox., Ph.D., OTRADI Executive Director, (503) 753-8966
Denise McCarty, Executive Director, Oregon Bio, (503) 548-4432
Dianne Danowski Smith, Board member, (503) 201-7019, @OregonBio
(Portland, Ore.) – Oregon’s biotech sector has again landed in merger and acquisition territory.
Launching to “develop cures, treatments and preventions for challenging infectious diseases” Vir Biotechnology Inc. launched today announcing it is acquiring Portland, Ore.-based TomegaVax Inc., a startup company housed in the bioscience incubator at the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI).
“This is one of Oregon’s biggest biotech stories to date,” said Denise McCarty, Oregon Bioscience Association’s executive director. “With the millions of dollars in capital infusion from ARCH Venture Partners and a lead investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today’s announcement showcases the attractiveness of Oregon’s biotech ecosystem for early and growth stage companies.” ARCH and investors are pouring $150 million into Vir’s growing portfolio, according to Vir’s announcement.
Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) infectious disease researchers Louis Picker, M.D., and Klaus Frueh, Ph.D., are co-founders of new company Vir Biotechnology Inc. Picker serves as a scientific advisor and Frueh as a director.
“The stellar news for Oregon is that Vir Bio will be keeping the original TomegaVax R&D team here in Portland, and they are doubling their presence at the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator,” said Dr. Jennifer Fox, OTRADI Bioscience Incubator Executive Director. “This vote of confidence by Vir Bio underscores the success to date of the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator and how companies are supported and grown here. Oregon’s bioscience ecosystem is expanding rapidly and wholly to support training, capitalization, and strategic growth, and world-class investors are taking note.”
“Vir Biotechnology will enable us to accelerate the clinical testing of novel vaccine concepts developed at OHSU which we hope will result in new preventative measures and cures for infectious diseases,” said Vir Bio’s co-founder, director and researcher at OSHU, Klaus Frueh, Ph.D. “The acquisition of TomegaVax by Vir created a unique opportunity for us to work with the best of the best in biotech with a vision to take on some of the world’s most challenging infectious diseases for which solutions are non-existent or inadequate.” Frueh is a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.
TomegaVax, founded and initially funded in 2011, has been an up-and-coming startup leader for the past few years in Oregon’s bioscience environment. In 2014, TomegaVax was named as a rising star by the Oregon Entrepreneur Network. TomegaVax Inc. is an immunotherapy company that applies a game-changing vaccine technology platform to areas of unmet medical need. The company is focused on the preclinical and clinical development of vaccines and immunotherapies for chronic and recurring viral infections including Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Herpes Simplex Virus.
“A key takeaway for us is how Oregon continues to attract world-class interest and funding, and how the stable of Oregon’s bioscience companies continues to be attractive to both mid-level and large scale investors.,” added Dr. Fox.
McCarty added, “Today’s news underscores why national statistics show bio jobs in Oregon grew faster than most other U.S. markets.”
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About Oregon Bioscience Association
The Oregon Bioscience Association advocates for its members and the industry to create opportunity through advocacy, cultivation and education. Oregon Bio promotes the growth and quality of the bioscience industry in Oregon and continually seeks ways to support sustainability and growth in the life science, bioscience, biotechnology and device manufacturing industries and to create acceleration initiatives so members can achieve their full scientific, economic and social potential. Oregon Bio, a nonprofit membership association, is the Oregon affiliate of BIO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization.
In 2014 Oregon’s jobs in biotech grew faster than most other U.S. markets. The association’s most current economic impact study showed that in 2014 Oregon Oregon’s growing bioscience industry reached nearly 14,000 jobs across 845 state business establishments. State bioscience companies have increased employment by 3.5 percent since 2012, with job growth coming from four of the five industry subsectors. Oregon’s research universities are especially focused in the biosciences relative to other fields with their nearly $456 million in bioscience academic R&D in 2014 accounting for 68 percent of all academic research compared with 61 percent for the nation. In 2015, NIH research funding to Oregon institutions totaled nearly $289 million. Venture capital investments in Oregon’s bioscience-related companies have increased in recent years and since 2012 have totaled just over $62 million. More about the Oregon Bioscience Association can be found at www.oregonbio.org.
About OTRADI Bioscience Incubator
Since its inception in 2007, Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI) has been dedicated to broad-based bioscience research with an emphasis on industry growth and job creation in Oregon. OTRADI achieves these goals through strategic partnerships with businesses and universities to discover, develop and commercialize drugs, diagnostics, medical devices and other bio products. OTRADI is funded principally by state grants via the Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC), as administered by Business Oregon.
The OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI) is the State of Oregon’s first and only bioscience-focused incubator. Launched in 2013, the OBI provides laboratory and office space for early stage bioscience companies. In addition, through its strategic partnerships and BioMentoring program, OBI provides expert advice for startup and emerging bioscience businesses throughout Oregon. The OBI is currently home to seventeen of Oregon’s most promising bio startup companies. More information can be found at www.otradi.org.