Meet a leader, take 2 business trips and learn more – October 28, 2019
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Q&A with Cloud Pharmaceuticals CEO Ed Addison
Ed Addison - Cloud Pharmaceuticals
Cloud Pharmaceuticals is using artificial intelligence to develop novel drug compounds to treat everything from cancer to Chron’s disease. The startup calls itself “a leader in the computational design of new drugs and subsequent rapid, information-driven drug development” that uses “augmented intelligence, heuristic search, expert systems and machine learning to reduce computational cost and reduce toxic side effects.”
If you think such a tech-heavy company must be headquartered in Silicon Valley, think again. Cloud Pharmaceuticals calls North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park home. That’s partly because the venture originated out of nearby Duke University, and party because “location, location, location” isn’t as important for biotech companies as it is for real estate agents.
Flyover Future caught up with Chairman and CEO Ed Addison to learn more. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
What are the advantages of being in flyover country?
Addison: The housing here is probably less than half of the cost of housing in Silicon Valley and New York. The cost of people is not cheap here, but it’s cheaper than the salaries you pay in New York and Silicon Valley. And maybe a little cheaper than Boston. But there is such a heavy presence of universities that have healthcare and engineering skills and science skills that people with those backgrounds are here.
Aren’t you far away from customers and partners?
Addison: The whole biotech industry is very conference driven. There’s maybe half a dozen very business development-centric conferences where you can go to the conference and sign up for partnering and share profiles and book meetings; in the course of two or three days you can have 20 meetings in lieu of making sales calls globally. So the conference-driven nature of business development in this marketplace makes it easy to do business globally and sort of deemphasizes doing business locally.
What about venture capital?
Addison: [Local] funds are very conservative, and they don’t understand new technology. You have to go out to Silicon Valley for that kind of VC or maybe to Boston. It’s hard to get that VC here. So we’ve survived without venture capital over the years.
Is that a good thing?
Addison: We also don’t have the burden of Silicon Valley VC. For example, we have a competitor in Silicon Valley who raised $50 million, and their investors are not going to sell that company unless they can get several hundred million dollars for the company. But we only have a few million of equity in our company; most of it’s non-equity-based finance. So we could sell this company for $25 or $30 million, 10% of what our competitor has to sell for, and still make significant money for the founders and the early investors, whereas our competitors don’t even overcome their venture capital burden with the price that we can sell at.
For more information, visit www.cloudpharmaceuticals.com.
Techstars Iowa will launch next year in Des Moines
The rumors were true. The Techstars accelerator is coming to Des Moines, in partnership with Grinnell College. The school’s investment office will fund the program for three years.
Jainen Thayer, chief investment officer at Grinnell, said Techstars will help local founders connect with investors, advisors, and mentors through its global platform. It will also fund startups in the early stages and will “provide access to capital, dedicated to supporting the growth of successful companies that emerge from the accelerator.”
The first cohort, which will accept 10 startups, is slated to run from September to December next year. Those who participate in the program will get $20,000 in funding, with the option of receiving another $100,000 in convertible notes.
Kerty Levy, formerly interim managing director of the Iowa Agritech Accelerator, has been tapped to fill the role of managing director of the program. “In Iowa, there’s no shortage of talent, ideas and hard work,” she said. “But it’s challenging for new companies to find the tools and funding they need to take their ideas to the next level. That’s where Techstars Iowa can come in and fill the gap.”
Pitt Innovation Challenge awards almost $500,000 to winners
The Pitt Innovation Challenge 2019 (PInCh) asked innovators, “What is your bold idea to solve a health-related problem?” The Challenge, sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), awarded $460,000 to those who provided a winning response.
Following two rounds of pre-selection, 14 teams advanced to a final round. Three were selected to receive $100,000:
Another six teams received $25,000 awards: 42Days, Aphasia Games for Health, Good Vibrations, MobileDerm, TeenBrainOnline, and Push-to-Spin. Two of the teams—42 Days and MobileDerm—also received a $5,000 bonus award for addressing “problems known to impact rural health disparities.”
Steven Reis, MD, director of the CTSI and associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and professor of medicine at Pitt, praised the winners:
“This year’s finalists provided outstanding solutions to critical problems that affect the lives of many individuals.”
Ohio's MIPAR offers ambitious imaging software
A Worthington, OH, startup is doing some amazing work with images, and it doesn’t involve enhancing your personal brand on Snapchat or Instagram. MIPAR, an image-analysis software company, is using machine learning to analyze all kinds of images, from microscopic cancer cells to thermal images of a factory’s energy efficiency based on drone footage.
The software breaks down complex patterns to find flaws in infrastructure, detect medical problems in patients, analyze aerial photographs, and much more. The software can analyze virtually any kind of image its customers provide, quickly and without any coding.
Group looking to make Memphis a hub for blockchain technology
A private/public partnership is looking to make Memphis a center for blockchain technology. The effort, which is being spearheaded by the University of Memphis, thinks the location is perfect because of the city’s dominance in the logistics industry.
Memphis has been moving goods since Mark Twain was a boy and today it’s the largest logistics hub in North America. That makes it ripe for blockchain technology, which has the potential to significantly streamline shipping operations through its use of cryptography, decentralization and magic. OK, it’s not magic but almost. Encrypted records (blocks) are built on top of one another (the chain) and managed on a peer-to-peer network.
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
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