QB3 adds Zcube as limited partner in Mission Bay Capital Fund

By Kristen Bole on February 24, 2010

Mission Bay Capital, LLC, has added a new limited partner to its first venture fund, bolstering the fund’s ability to invest in promising bioscience companies emerging from the University of California.
 
Zcube, Srl, the research corporate venture of Italian pharmaceutical leader Zambon Co., SpA, joined the Mission Bay Capital Fund with a $1 million investment. Zcube is the only European company to contribute to the Mission Bay Capital Fund, to date.
 
The new partnership brings the total fund to $8.5 million, according to Regis Kelly, PhD, executive director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), who also serves as an unpaid director of Mission Bay Capital.
 
“Zcube is a valuable new partner for Mission Bay Capital, both in helping generate important funds for UC entrepreneurs and in contributing significant expertise in commercializing innovative drug delivery systems,” Kelly said, noting that Zcube also has been invited to be a member of the QB3 Industrial Advisory Board. “This is a significant area of research for QB3, especially at UCSF. Zcube’s expertise will help evaluate that research to move important scientific projects out of the laboratory and into public use.”
 
The project aims to identify UC research that looks promising for commercialization and provide the venture funding and external review to confirm the commercial potential of the technology, Kelly said. This will enable research entrepreneurs to advance their projects to the proof-of-concept stage and ultimately help prepare them for subsequent investments to support the company’s growth.
 
“Mission Bay Capital is directly aligned with Zcube’s efforts to support emerging life science companies that can improve health into the future,” said Lorenzo Pradella, PhD, business and operational development director at Zcube.
 
“Zcube had been considering certain investment opportunities in the United States,” Pradella continued.  “Mission Bay Capital is a very promising initiative, providing us with the possibility of collaborating with QB3, one of the most advanced and productive US incubators, with a significant focus on a key area for us: the field of drug delivery.”
 
Zcube was founded in 2003 in an effort to support emerging life science technology and research worldwide, Pradella said. The group has been actively investing in life science opportunities, promoting the launch of three start-ups companies: PharmEste Srl, SuppreMol GmbH and ProtAffin Biotechnologie AG.
 
Since 2007, Zcube has dedicated particular emphasis on drug delivery systems in different therapeutic fields. Zcube invests in and validates early stage innovative drug delivery systems with the potential to generate new products in selected therapeutic areas and with the opportunity to generate new companies. Its main sources are universities with significant research programs in the area of life science and drug delivery, as well as recently formed companies.
 
The capital fund builds upon ongoing QB3 and Mission Bay Capital efforts to help bioscience entrepreneurs create new companies based on their research. Those efforts include the QB3 “Garage” and QB3 Mission Bay Incubator Network, both of which provide micro-amounts of laboratory space for entrepreneurs. The institute also has created the QB3 Innovation Toolkit, which provides access to the legal, management and investment expertise critical to avoiding many of the initial mistakes that often derail startups.
 
Since QB3 created the Garage in 2003, it has helped launch 21 startup bioscience companies on the UCSF Mission Bay campus and its surrounding neighborhood, including four that have successfully landed follow-on funding or were purchased by larger companies. Twelve of those companies were launched in the past year.
 
QB3, which was founded in 2000 with the mission of helping UC research reach commercial use, will help guide the entrepreneurs through the pre-commercial phase of the company’s growth, including help with defining technical and commercial milestones, conducting due diligence on the technology and business ideas, helping recruit management for future start-up, and coaching entrepreneurs on their business plans.
 
Zcube is part of Zambon Co., an industrial holding company. In addition to Zcube, the group includes a pharmaceutical business unit (Zambon SpA) and a chemical business unit (ZaCh System). Zambon Company has a strong reputation for inventive and innovative thinking, flexibility and customer focus. Founded in 1906, Zambon operates in 15 countries and 3 continents (Europe, Asia, North and South America), and employs more than 2,500 people with consolidated sales for 2008 of EUR 600 million.
 
QB3 is a cooperative effort among private industry and more than 200 scientists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. One of four California technology institutes, QB3 harnesses the quantitative sciences of information technology, imaging and engineering to integrate and enhance scientific understanding of biological systems at all levels, enabling scientists to tackle problems that have been previously unapproachable.
 
Mission Bay Capital is an independent, seed-stage venture firm that was created in August 2009 to make pivotal, early-stage investments in bioscience companies. The firm, which invests in bioscience companies stemming from UC research, evaluates companies based on their promise of commercial success and potential benefit to society.
 
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.