Incubator network created at Mission Bay to support new biotechs

The California Institute of Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) has joined with the City of San Francisco and FibroGen Inc to launch the QB3 Mission Bay Incubator Network, to spur growth in the bioscience industry.

The new network is being launched with five startup companies.

The partnership, which also includes the San Francisco Center for Economic Development and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, has been formed in an effort to foster new and successful life sciences companies, spur scientific innovation, and promote economic growth in the heart of one of the most vibrant bioscience centers in the world. Startup companies will have access to support services through the network and to small units of office and laboratory space at FibroGen’s new headquarters in Mission Bay.

“The QB3 Mission Bay Incubator Network will serve as a platform for innovation that provides all the key ingredients an entrepreneur needs to start and grow a company,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “While we’re actively working to recruit and retain new medium and large biotech companies to Mission Bay, we are also investing in strategic initiatives like this one that will serve as an engine for new company creation and catalyze further growth in Mission Bay.”

The partnership builds on successful, ongoing efforts at QB3 in supporting life science entrepreneurs, including the institute’s onsite technology incubator, known as the QB3 Garage. The Garage rents micro amounts of laboratory space (as little as 120 square feet) to entrepreneurs, and supports the fledgling companies with a suite of mentoring and networking services, known as the QB3 Innovation Toolkit,as well as fee-for-service access to state-of-the-art scientific core facilities.

This three-year-old program already has helped four companies close Series A financing, said QB3 Director Regis Kelly, and had one exit: True Materials was acquired by Affymetrix for $25 million. However, with 2,500 square feet of space, the QB3 Garage can only help up to six companies at a time, and currently turns away up to four companies per week. FibroGen’s offer of micro-amounts of space in its own Mission Bay facilities enables QB3 to greatly expand the number of entrepreneurs who can participate.

“This is an exciting opportunity to expand the Garage’s success and launch young, innovative companies,” said Kelly, adding that in some cases, that could start with a single lab bench. “This type of support is critical to helping small bioscience companies to bridge the ‘valley of death’ between academic research and profitability.”

“We are pleased to partner with QB3 and the City of San Francisco in this important initiative to help fuel scientific innovation and economic growth in the City,” said FibroGen Chief Executive Officer Thomas B. Neff. “The network is a prime example of the spirit of collaboration and commitment that is a driving force in the Mission Bay bioscience community.”

FibroGen’s participation in the Network is in cooperation with its lessor, San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties LLC, a private real estate investment company.

The first five startups to join the network are Carmot Therapeutics, CV Ingenuity, Gemmus Pharma Inc., Osprey Pharmaceuticals USA, and Solidus Biosciences.

“I am proud to welcome these companies to their new home in Mission Bay,” Newsom said.

“Their decision to locate in San Francisco is further evidence that the fundamentals for Mission Bay remain strong – proximity to UCSF, access to world-class research institutes like QB3 and Gladstone, a $1.6 B UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay set to begin construction next year and unparalleled access to top talent – all in the heart of truly global city.

“The QB3 Mission Bay Incubator Network makes it easier for new companies to start and grow in San Francisco by offering companies turnkey incubator space, a premiere Mission Bay location and access to the proven success of QB3 business support services,” he said.

Companies in the network will enjoy the same benefits as those in the QB3 Garage, including access to state-of-the-art core facilities such as NMR, imaging and other bioscience technology at a modest fee; access to the UCSF library system with over 2,600 online journals; dozens of weekly seminars and, most importantly, access to the intellectual vitality of QB3 and UCSF.

Kelly said the network is a key part of the QB3 mission to help build the Mission Bay community and fuel both economic growth and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that has taken hold there.

It also promotes the QB3 directive to foster collaboration between private industry and scientists in the institute’s three UC campuses – Berkeley, San Francisco and Santa Cruz – to help grow the California economy by generating future life science companies, he said.

The City of San Francisco, through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and QB3 will market the incubator network, while also providing targeted business assistance to the entrepreneurs. This could include seminars on starting and doing businesses in San Francisco, help in accessing tax incentives and support in navigating city government.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce will offer membership to the startups, connecting them with a diverse business community and access to networking programs and public policy advocacy to help grow their businesses.

About the Startups:

Carmot Therapeutics is applying innovative drug discovery technology to identify novel small molecule therapeutics for neurological disorders, metabolic diseases, and other unmet medical needs.

CV Ingenuity (www.cvingenuity.com) is developing site-specific therapy technologies to deliver the next generation of therapeutic agents to treat cardiovascular and other human diseases.

Gemmus Pharma, Inc. (www.gemmuspharma.com) seeks to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of Influenza.

Osprey Pharmaceuticals USA (www.ospreypharma.com) is focused on the development of protein therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions based on the company’s proprietary therapeutic platform of Leukocyte Population Modulators.

Solidus Biosciences (www.solidusbiosciences.com) offers high-throughput, predictive in vitro toxicology services that enable pharmaceutical companies to reduce attrition of drug candidates through reliable discovery-stage screening and empower cosmetics companies to confidently transition to non-animal-based safety testing.

About FibroGen:

FibroGen is a biotechnology-based drug discovery company using its expertise in the fields of tissue fibrosis, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) biology to discover, develop, and commercialize novel therapeutics for fibrotic disorders, diabetic complications, anemia, conditions associated with tissue damage or injury, cancer, and other areas of unmet medical need. FibroGen also develops and produces recombinant human collagens and gelatins using unique production technology that provides the basis for FibroGen’s proprietary cosmetic dermal filler and biomaterials supply business. For further information, visit www.fibrogen.com.

About QB3:

QB3 is a cooperative effort among private industry and more than 200 laboratories at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. Established in 2000 by the California Governor as an economic engine, the Institute harnesses the quantitative sciences to integrate and enhance scientific understanding of biological systems, enabling scientists to accelerate discovery and innovation to benefit society. For further information, visit www.qb3.org.

About UCSF:

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, visit www.ucsf.edu.

About Network Participation

For further information on participating in the network, contact Douglas Crawford at (415) 514-4408 or Douglas.Crawford@ucsf.edu .

For further information on partners in the QB3 Mission Bay Incubator Network, visit:

San Francisco Mayor’s Office: www.sfgov.org
San Francisco Center for Economic Development: www.sfced.org
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce: www.sfchamber.com