BioMotiv Puts New Model for Drug Development to Work

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Originally published on

Originally published on

drug development lab vialsNearly halfway to its goal of raising $100 million, an intriguing venture that’s part drug development accelerator and part early-stage investor has begun picking promising projects it hopes will someday become drugs that fill a market need.

Cleveland-based BioMotiv said this week it added another $25 million to the $21 million it raised last fall. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, along with several individuals, have joined University Hospitals and the Harrington Family as investors, the company said.

BioMotiv is the for-profit affiliate of University Hospitals’ Harrington Project, a $250 million initiative created to bridge the “valley of death” in drug development by accelerating the development and commercialization of medical breakthroughs from research centers.

The non-profit components of the Harrington Project award grant support and resources to physician-scientists who have made promising discoveries. BioMotiv is a mission-aligned commercial entity that in-licenses technologies, uses its own leadership team to move the discoveries into 1b/2a clinical studies and then out-licenses the technology to drug companies or VC firms. It works closely with the non-profit side of the Harrington Project, but isn’t restricted to selecting just from those programs.

I asked Shah what he thinks is drawing investors to BioMotiv’s unique model. He, of course, couldn’t speak on their behalf, but pointed out a few things he considers differentiators.  First has been a stellar advisory board that includes six former heads of R&D at pharma companies. Then there’s the efficiency built into the investment model, he said. Rather than investing in a management team or bringing one on board as a traditional VC firm would do, BioMotiv has one management team that oversees the development of all of its portfolio programs. “We can focus the resources of the team on the programs that continue to show promise,” he said.

Shah said the company has looked at nearly 200 technologies from research institutions, disease foundations and industry sources. It’s already selected a few to move forward with, and an SEC filing made last month revealed that at least one company had been started and funded. Shah said he hopes to reveal the selected projects soon.

“The odds of success are long,” he said, “so it’s about building a broad portfolio.”

[Image credit: Flickr user CENews]

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