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19 posts categorized "Elk Run"

May 16, 2013

Rochester founder says Tenex is growing quickly

When pro basketball player Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers needed damaged tendons in his knee removed this week, his doctor opted for a noninvasive treatment developed by Mayo Clinic instead of the traditional surgery option.

TX1_handpieceGasol now is one of about 5,000 patients that have been treated with Tenex Health Inc.'s TX1 instrument, since the firm took its specialty needle system to market at the start of 2012.

Dr. Jagi Gill, of Rochester, founded Tenex in 2009, and it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Since then it has quickly been gaining traction and is now listing "multi-millions" in sales.

"We moved past the 'Will it work?' and 'Can we make it?' stages. Now we are building a sales team and working a marketing message," Gill said.

Tenex now is selling the system to doctors. The firm has 12 sales representatives, and he hopes to grow that number to 40 by the third quarter of 2013.

Gill began his career in Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurology. He has since worked at Boston Scientific as well as a number of biotechnology start-ups.

Tenex's one-time use, disposable handpiece was developed and commercialized in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Tenex licenses technology from Mayo Clinic and in turn, Mayo owns equity in Tenex. Images

"The folks at Mayo have been very helpful," he said.

The TX1 system uses ultrasound technology to treat damaged tendons or soft tissue in elbows, knees, ankles, feet and shoulders. Unlike surgery, patients can walk out after what is often a procedure no longer than 20 minutes.

"It is well-tolerated and safe as an injection," says Gill.

That and the quick recovery are making Tenex very popular with athletes, people with work-related injuries and patients who simply "want to have an active lifestyle."

Gasol is not the only celebrity who has discovered Tenex. TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest has also has his elbow treated with the TX1 system.

At one point, Tenex looked at Rochester, nearby Elk Run and even Willmar, Minn., as possible locations for a manufacturing facility. In the end, the decision was made to acquire the California company that handled the early manufacturing on a contract basis.

So why not do the manufacturing in Rochester?

"The challenge that any company would have in going here is that there isn't a lot of experience in terms of engineering, manufacturing, production, quality systems," says Gill.

He explained that medical device hotspots, not only have a medical system or university for generating ideas, but also "They have an imbedded group of people that know how to turn on an infrastructure."

September 21, 2011

Start-up's Elk Run BioPark plans have farm feel

Here's some from an article by Jeff Hansel about the first business pledging to open in Pine Island's planned Elk Run biobusiness park.

This is an interesting project. Of course, the company still needs about $3.5 million to make this happen, but it is more of a commitment than we've heard before.

Hansel first wrote about this in the weekend paper and this is a follow-up from a state biotech conference Tuesday. The whole article is in the print edition.

For the record, I did not write this lead. However, I wish I had. Heh.

A Minnesota researcher wants to make dairy cattle less horny.

Scott Fahrenkrug, CEO of biotech startup Recombinetics, told more than 200 of the state's biotech leaders that his company recently signed a mutli-year contract to develop hornless dairy cattle so they're safer to work with.

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Recombinetics is also the first company to publicly announce it's in talks to base its business at Pine Island's planned Elk Run biobusiness park.

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However, Fahrenkrug emphasizes that the letter of intent means simply that there's an "intent to explore the design and financing of the facility." That means no money has thus far changed hands, and neither Elk Run nor Recombinetics is contractually obligated to build the facility.

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Recombinetics scientists plan to add the naturally occurring beef cattle gene to dairy cows to elimnate the horns.

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Recombinetics also plans to house 50 to 100 pigs at Elk Run.

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Elk Run is perfect for a swine "nucleus herd," Fahrenkrug said, because it's five miles from any other swine production. The Pine Island laboratory will work on the development of pigs that are genetically susceptible to some of the major chronic human diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Once a line of pigs gets developed, Recombinetics will seek farmers able to raise them for sale to research labs nationwide — the same way farmers raise hybrid pigs.

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The company needs to raise $3.5 million to jumpstart its Elk Run plans, and it's looking for investors.

"We're ready to get serious here in Minnesota," Fahrenkrug said. But he was blunt about the need for Minnesota funding, and its availability elsewhere.

"If we can't get what we need here, we'll go someplace else," he said, noting other states are courting the company.

September 15, 2010

Burrill: $1B Elk Run fund deal is close

BurrillHere's a tidbit from the Star Tribune's high tech biz blog.

 Steve Burrill, the biotech bigwig who has plans for Pine Island's proposed Elk Run biotechnology park. told Wendy Lee of the Strib that he has a "firm commitment" from a single investor to cover the $1 billion fund he is creating to fuel the Elk Run project.

Here's a bit from Lee's blog:

"We have a firm commitment for that billion dollars from a single investor," said Burrill, who is the CEO of San Francisco-based life sciences merchant bank Burrill & Co.

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Elk run1 The $1 billion will go toward providing financing for companies moving into the biobusiness park and to help with the development of Elk Run, which encompasses 2,325 acres.

Burrill said the investor is a sovereign wealth fund from overseas, but declined to go into more detail. He said he hopes the fund will close by the end of the year.

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Burrill said there has been an underlying current in the state of people who wish he would fail. He said he has been surprised at some Minnesotans' "lack of support, instead of (them) wrapping their arms around us."

September 08, 2010

Proposed town homes in S.W. Roch. = Hot meeting

Here's some from a piece I have in today's paper on a proposed housing development in southwest Rochester.

Many homeowners in Fox Croft and 23rd Avenue neighborhoods learned about it for the first time at a meeting last night.

This issue has many interesting technical points of discussion. However, this is just a general introduction to the project and to the homeowners' early concerns.

Expect more details as the issue moves through official channels to Planning and Zoning and eventually the Rochester City Council.

Tempers flared as about 25 to 30 concerned neighbors showed up Tuesday evening with questions about a proposed townhouse development in southwest Rochester.

Orchard Hills Villas, a proposed "fill-in" housing development near the Rochester Golf & Country Club, would add 34 townhomes in between the high-end southwest neighborhoods along 23rd Avenue Southwest and Fox Chase Road.

It would use a road that's now partly vacated, Gates Drive, as the core of the project.

The plan was described by one homeowner as "trying to squeeze an elephant into an ant hole," and many neighbors said they were worried about increased traffic, during the meeting at the Meadow Lakes course club house.

Others were concerned about how the addition of townhouses to the area could decrease the value of their homes, many of which are in the $500,000 range.

Orchard Hills Villas is the brainchild of Rochester developer Michael J. Younge.

Younge, who lives in the area planned for Orchard Hills Villas, developed many of the nearby neighborhoods and sold lots to many of the concerned homeowners at the meeting.

Geoffrey Griffin and Mark Welch of G-Cubed, the engineering firm that put together the plan, explained that the proposal calls for 12 single-family or "detached" townhomes and 22 duplex or "attached" townhomes

Griffin estimated the prices of the 12 single townhomes in the upper part of the project would start at $400,000, and prices of the 22 townhome duplexes on the lower tier would begin at $300,000. The two parts would be separated by a wooded area.

August 19, 2010

Biotech firm with Mayo Clinic ties eyes $86M IPO

An Indiana-based biotech firm developing possible cancer therapies - Endocyte - is gearing up for a public offering with the goal to raise as estimated $86.3 million public.

Endocyte The Lafayette, Ind. firm (mere miles from my hometown) says plans to use the money pay for clinical trials and repay debt.

Mayo Clinic has worked with this company on cancer research and clinical trials in the past. Not sure if there is ongoing connection.

The biotech venture capital company, Burrill & Co., has helped Endocycte with funding in the past, including being one of the investment companies behind a $26 million round in January.

Burrill, lead by biotech investing guru Stephen Burrill, is known locally for its involvement with the proposed Elk Run biotech park.

For the six months ended June 30, Endocyte reported no revenue and saw its loss widen on higher expenses, according to Wall Street Journal.

April 28, 2010

Elk Run developer land dispute

Here's my take on the recent land dispute between Tower Investments, the developer of Pine Island's massive Elk Run biobusiness community, and a local farmer:

Aerial_highway A contract dispute is kicking up some dust across the highway from Elk Run, Pine Island's proposed biotechnology park.

At issue is part of the farmland that Tower Investments of California is acquiring from land owners, Elmer and Judy Stock.

The land is across U.S. 52 to the west from the primary 2,000 acres Tower has slated for the planned commercial, residential and biotechnology development called Elk Run. Tower describes the parcel in question as "excess agricultural land" that came with the purchase of the Stock farm.

On Tuesday, Elmer Stock, who is now divorced from Judy Stock, reportedly initiated foreclosure proceedings on a portion of the land, claiming Tower was behind in its mortgage payments to him.

Stock could not be reached to comment on this story.

Tower says the fault lies with Stock.

Elk_run_banner "The Stocks breached our mortgage agreement in 2008. We held back payment of the interest in 2009 because of that breach," said Geoff Griffin, the Elk Run project manager based in Chatfield.

Tower paid all of the outstanding interest in late 2009, when the Stocks "…promised to cooperate in the future and abide by the terms of the agreement."

But that did not last for long.

"Almost immediately they breached the agreement again. Therefore we are in this current dispute," Griffin said.

How does this land conflict affect the planned Elk Run development that includes a 1.7-million-square-foot bioscience research park, along with hotels, restaurants, stores, offices, a medical clinic and a residential neighborhood built around parks and lakes?

It doesn't, according to Tower and the Pine Island City Administrator Abraham Algadi.

"This is an issue that is private, I want to super emphasize that," says Algadi. " It is between two private parties that have no impact whatsoever on progress of the remainder of Elk Run, the interchange or the biotech park."

February 13, 2010

New tenant being considered for BioBusiness Center

Here's some from a story I wrote on one of the many interesting tidbits from the Roch. City Council agenda for its Monday meeting:

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A startup company offering "wellness solutions" for seniors is working with the city of Rochester to base its headquarters in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center.

The Rochester City Council will vote on a lease with iMORTAL for 1,189 square feet of space on the first floor of the eight-story downtown building.

"Our goal is to enhance the quality of life for older adults using some amazing advanced technology and combined with education and communication for a complete solution," says Zara McDonald.051509biobusinesscenteratnight

McDonald, who lives in San Francisco, is the CEO of the company, which formed at the end of 2009. She says the plan is to base the company in Rochester.

McDonald said that she could not offer many details about her company yet.

"We are in the process of some discussions, so I can't really say a lot more right now," McDonald says. "The long and short of it is that we are a health and wellness solution company."

She did estimate that the office would open with a relatively small staff of three to five people.

The proposed lease that was negotiated with the city staff is for five years at a rate of $16 per square foot plus a share of the building's operating and maintenance costs.

As part of the lease agreement, the city is offering iMORTAL $10 per square foot allowance – $11,890 – for fit up costs. The proposed lease also includes an offer by the city of an interest-free $38,060 loan to cover the rest of the fix up costs.

The deal would allow iMORTAL to repay the loan from the city's economic development account in monthly installments over 10 years.

Other tenants in the building, which opened in May, include Mayo Clinic Health Solutions and Kardia Health Systems.

December 31, 2009

Biotech, RAEDI, Burrill, Elk Run and raising money

I've already reported here on the blog that G. Steven Burrill, national biotech guru, will speak at the upcoming RAEDI meeting.

Here's some from the Biz buzz in today's print column that covers some about Burrill's efforts to raise $1 billion for the proposed massive Elk Run community by Pine Island.

Burrill At the Rochester Area Economic Development’s past several annual meetings, biobusiness was the hot topic.

And it will be again at the next meeting on Feb. 12.

G. Steven Burrill, one of the top biotechnology evangelists in the U.S. and a backer of the proposed Elk Run biobusiness park by Pine Island, is headlining the meeting.

In May, Burrill joined forces with Tower Investment, Elk Run’s developer. He pledged to raise $1 billion in funding.

Last week, the medical and bioscience Web site, Medcity News, reported that Burrill in not making progress on his goal.“… Sources say he’s nowhere near $1 billion. Depending on whom you ask, Burrill has secured anywhere from zero dollars to $250 million,” wrote Thomas Lee, former Star Tribune reporter now working for Medcity News.

Lee went on to write that he doubts Burrill will be able to raise that much.

“But in some ways, the amount of money is beside the point. Where it comes from matters far more. To build local support for such an audacious project, Burrill needs local money. Good luck with that one.”

Maybe Burrill will able to say just how much he has raised at the RAEDI meeting.

November 17, 2009

Big money biotech guru to speak @ RAEDI meeting

This is interesting (to me, anyway).

G. Steven Burrill, one of the top biotechnology evangelists in the U.S. and a backer of the Elk Run bio park by Pine Island, is headlining the annual meeting of the Rochester Area Economic Development entity.

Burrill The event is Feb. 12, 2010 at the Rochester International Event Center. Here's some from an editorial by Burrill that I read in the Nov. 1 issue of the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News:

There are 328 biotechs that are publicly traded on major U.S. markets (down 7.8% year-to-date), and at the end of September the group of public biotech companies had an aggregate market cap of $352 billion (up 10.4% for the quarter).

In addition, there are 51 companies that have market caps greater than $1 billion (up 4% year-to-date); 36 companies that have market caps between $500 and $999 million (up 38% year-to-date); and 136 public biotech companies (41%) that have a market cap below $100 million.

While the data is encouraging, we don’t yet believe biotech is fully back on track, as many companies are still struggling to find the necessary funding to maintain their operations.

Almost half of U.S. public biotechs have market caps below $100 million and we are seeing companies still consistently turning off their lights for the last time.

It is important to remind ourselves that the biotech industry is undergoing a major transition, a process that will likely continue for at least another two quarters.


This is because we do not yet know how President Obama’s proposal for healthcare reform will fully impact the biotechnology industry, and the status of biosimiliars legislation (follow-on biologics) is also still unresolved.

There are fears that these issues will drive the prices of innovative drugs lower and eat away at biotech company profits. Despite the market uncertainties, we will likely see the industry build on the momentum it has gained over the past several months.

May 27, 2009

Biotech guru Burrill on biobiz future

Remember Steven Burrill?


He's the head of Burrill & Co., a biotech investment/ venture capital firm. He is the guy pledging $1 billion for Pine Island's Elk Run biobiz development.

And he recently spoke at the Mayo Clinic/ Minnesota booth at the national BIO conference.

So his name jumped out at me when I opened my my favorite bio-focused magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

Here's a little of what he was quoted as saying in an article headlined - "Tough Time Rachet Up Need for Partners":

“The marketplace of the next ten years is going to be dramatically different,” explained Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co. 


Burrill1 On the whole, Burrill’s outlook was optimistic—he calls the current situation a sea change and says this is generally a change for the better. “We will be a stronger industry in the end than we are today,” he promised. 


However, Burrill admitted that much had happened in the last year and a consumer credit crisis—to follow that experienced by the banks—is now looming.  Each country is experiencing recession in its own way and this could last for five to ten years, he added. Healthcare systems, too, are going through dramatic change. 
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In reality, healthcare systems have not changed for 2,000 years—people wait to get sick—it is only the tools and technologies that have gotten better. But between now and 2020 everything will change, Burrill said. He believes there will be WalMart-style delivery of products like genetic screening, and that we will enter a “consumer, digital, healthcare world,” in which diagnostics will be based upon information being sent via iPod or Blackberry to a lab.
“All of these technologies exist already—we just need to integrate them,”  he added. 

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As far as the Wall St. implosion is concerned, after 30–40 years of access to cheap capital, financing is now harder to find and more expensive. VCs have deep pockets, but short arms. “Buy side is not interested in microcap companies worth less than $1 billion,” Burrill explained.


“We have created extraordinary value,” he concluded. “There is capital. It is just more expensive. And there will be another IPO market, but it will be different.


Wall St. will be back in 2010 to 2011—but will not finance what it has historically. And finally, physical cluster will become less important, but there will be more virtual clusters.”