January 15, 2018

UConn startups raise record-setting $60M in funding in 2017

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Bioarray CEO and founder Marcia Fournier. Her startup raised more than $5 million in equity and debt in 2017.

UConn reports that startups in its Technology Incubation Program (TIP) attracted a record $60 million in funding to help speed up their growth in 2017.

TIP startups' gains in equity, debt, grant, and revenue funding amounted to almost $20 million more than the previous record of $39.9 million for debt and equity funding set in 2016, with most investment coming from out-of-state sources. In 2017, TIP was home to 35 companies – the most in the program's history.

As part of a program within UConn's Office of the Vice President for Research, TIP startups are able to conduct R&D activities at UConn and benefit from having access to the university's research infrastructure, specialized equipment, customized business support services, and pool of graduates.

"At UConn, we are doing entrepreneurship, not just teaching it," said Radenka Maric, Ph.D., vice president for research at UConn. "We are proud of the program's rapid growth."

The growth of this "ecosystem" leads to fast prototyping, manufacturing, and clinical trials that ultimately benefit Connecticut's citizens and economy, she said.

While nine TIP companies raised over $1 million each, four others received very large investments in 2017.

  • Frequency Therapeutics successfully raised $30 million in 2017 to continue developing a drug-based therapy to restore hearing in individuals with hearing loss.
  • Cornovus Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a new medication for people with advanced heart failure, raised $4.3 million in equity and grants.
  • Bioarray, a molecular diagnostics biotech housed at TIP in Farmington since 2016, raised more than $5 million in equity and debt in 2017. The women-led company is developing a predictive cancer treatment technology. Bioarray was recently issued a U.S. patent for their lead test, BA100, which will be available to physicians and breast cancer patients in late 2018.
  • Thetis Pharmaceuticals LLC, a biopharmaceutical company developing oral "immuno-resolving" therapies to treat inflammatory bowel disease, was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health SBIR program. The growing startup received an additional $750,000 equity investment in 2017.

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