The Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV has invested in five of the Silicon Prairie’s leading startups. However, its origin suggests just how unlikely this was. In 2007, Innova Memphis was founded by Ken Woody as part of the Memphis BioWorks Foundation. This foundation was part of an effort in Memphis, Tennessee to jumpstart the region’s efforts in the biosciences. In particular, the early stage venture firm focused on investments in medical devices (hardware), software and other information technology, and logistics companies. For nearly a decade, investments in these spaces were the bread and butter of Innova Memphis, and the firm was recognized for being a key player in the Memphis ecosystem. However, as the company evolved, it started to examine AgTech as a fourth area of interest.
Life Science Tennessee’s (LST) “Scipreneur Challenge” is coming to East Tennessee this fall. Based on the TechVenture Challenge that was launched several years ago by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization with support from LST, the program was expanded to Memphis with a new name and now has been embraced by the Knoxville Chapter of LST’s Academic Alliance. It’s all about helping accelerate the commercialization of technologies from research institutions while simultaneously providing individuals interested in technology-based entrepreneurship, particularly in the life sciences, the opportunity to improve their understanding of the proverbial “bench to the market” process.
Merck, Novo Holdings and several smaller drug developers are partnering with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) trade group in a new initiative to spur research and development in the fight against superbugs. The “Working to Fight AMR” awareness and lobbying campaign tackles the problem of drug development in antimicrobial-resistant drugs, as most big companies have already moved out of the low-margin business. Executives from Novo Holdings, Merck, Entasis Therapeutics, Evotec, Paratek Pharmaceuticals and Forge Therapeutics are lending expertise to the group, said Greg Frank, BIO’s director of infectious disease policy, who is heading up the coalition.
Following years of issues relating to their sterilization and reuse, the FDA is now recommending that devicemakers and healthcare facilities transition to new types of duodenoscopes—specifically, those with disposable components—in order to reduce the risks of transmitting infections to patients. The agency named several models from Olympus, Fujifilm and Pentax as ones to avoid in the future, all designed with fixed, rigid end caps. These can contain tight crevices that can be difficult to fully clean and may harbor potentially dangerous infections between uses.