March 2016 E-News Wrap-up from the Georgia Research Alliance

Article: Actions 30 years ago shaped pharma in Georgia today 

Georgia Trend magazine published an excellent article in its March issue about the emergence of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry in Georgia over the last three decades. Titled "Patience Pays Off," the article describes the forces that shaped the industry over time, one of which is the GRA Ventures program. Greg Duncan, CEO of drug development company Celtaxsys (also a GRA Venture Fund company), is quoted in the article, along with a number of industry luminaries. • Read the article >

GRA Ventures companies net $1 billion in equity investment

Companies launched out of Georgia's universities with early-stage investment from GRA Ventures reached a major milestone in March: A collective total of $1 billion in additional equity investment from venture capital firms and other investors.

Created in 2002, GRA Ventures helps the universities identify inventions and discoveries that have promise in the marketplace. The program then provides grants ranging from $150,000 to $200,000 — and for some projects reaching the company stage, an additional $250,000 loan.

GRA Ventures also provides the newly launched companies with strategic counsel and guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs and executives to help the startups navigate their early years. 

“A billion dollars in investment is a significant achievement for the GRA Ventures program,” says Michael Cassidy, GRA's president and CEO. “Helping university faculty move their ideas out of the lab and grow them as new businesses is essential to Georgia’s economic future.”

Some 150 projects or companies are now in the GRA Ventures portfolio. Together, they have generated $140 million in annual revenues and employ over 1,300 professionals.

A number of GRA Ventures companies have become significant employers in Georgia. For example, Pindrop Security, which markets solutions to foil telephone fraud, now has more than 150 employees and is growing. Solar cell manufacturer Suniva, headquartered in Gwinnett County, employed 250 before announcing a $100 million expansion last August that would add another 500 jobs.  
   • Learn more about the GRA Ventures program >
   • Read about some of the GRA Ventures companies >

Federal funding sources to visit Atlanta in April

Researchers, entrepreneurs and small technology firms can meet one-on-one next month with representatives from nearly a dozen government agencies that provide funding to tech projects and early-stage companies. The Metro Atlanta Chamber is hosting the SBIR Road Tour, which arrives in Atlanta Thursday, April 21. The tour is intended to educate innovators about technology funding opportunities through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The 11 federal agencies participating represent $2.5 billion in early-stage funding. Registration is $10 for members of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, $25 for non-members.
• Register for the SBIR Road Tour >

Pointivo takes 'Best in Show' at TAG competition

Out of hundreds of applicants to the Technology Association of Georgia's annual "Top 40" competition, only one was left standing at the end: Pointivo. The startup out of Georgia Tech — which received early investment from GRA Ventures — was named "Best in Show" at the 2016 Georgia Technology Summit on March 17. Pointivo has a remarkable technology: It creates highly accurate 3D models of an environment using video from any camera, and without use of lasers or scanners. Measurements and CAD models can be directly imported into estimation and design systems. Pointivo's data is also accurate enough to inform the fabrication of materials and elements. • Learn more at the Pointivo website >

Eminent Scholar named to list of 'brightest minds'

Thomson Reuters has included GRA Eminent Scholar Rafi Ahmed on its list of the 3,000 "World's Most Influential Scientific Minds." Ahmed, of Emory University, is one of 100 immunologists included in the list, which was published in March. Selection of the honorees was based on citation data from 2003-2013 — "those who published the greatest number of highly cited papers" made the list. In a landmark paper published in Nature in 2006, Ahmed and his colleagues demonstrated the specific mechanism through which the cell receptor PD-1 "puts the brakes on" the immune system and suggested a new treatment for chronic disease: a PD-1 inhibitor • See the Thomson Reuters report >
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