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FAST Milestones and Expansion Highlighted at Fall 2016 Showcase

CLSI celebrated key milestones in the FAST advisory program, and FAST expansion to other parts of the state, at a packed Fall Showcase at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera in the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco on December 13.Before an audience of over 200 attendees, CLSI’s President & CEO, Lori Lindburg, noted that after three-and-a-half years in operation, 34 of the most promising Bay Area early-stage life science companies have graduated from CLSI’s FAST Accelerator.  Collectively, these graduates have developed products and services that are destined to dramatically improve patient care, the future of medicine and broaden the application of cutting edge biological processes to address the challenges of our growing population.

Including the five Fall 2016 FAST company graduates, key program milestones include:

  • FAST companies have raised over $130 million since graduating from the program
  • FAST companies have more than doubled their workforce with over 125 new jobs created
  • Over 40 percent of FAST graduates are generating revenue
  • 11 FAST graduates have secured Series A investments
  • 2 FAST graduates have successfully exited

The FAST Accelerator receives critical support from over 160 expert advisors, who have collectively donated more than 3,400 hours valued at over $880,000 to deliver tailored intensive business counsel to help FAST companies navigate the product development process, regulatory requirements, market considerations, financing and more.

FAST Expansion

Based on this successful track record, CLSI was recently awarded a $50,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) Growth Accelerator Competition grant to expand FAST to Davis, California, and is working with partners in Davis to plan a spring pilot. Similarly, CLSI is working with LA BioMed, a research institute in Los Angeles County that is about to break ground on an 18,000-square foot incubator for life sciences startups, to bring FAST to the SoCal region this spring.

As part of the celebration, CLSI also introduced the audience to CLSI CARB-X, a new accelerator it has developed  as part of a winning international consortium selected to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In her remarks, CLSI CARB-X Executive Director, Heather Shane, also noted that it is an incredible endorsement of FAST’s success that CLSI was asked to lead the West Coast accelerator for the international CARB-X consortium focused on combating AMR. Based on the FAST model, CLSI CARB-X will provide entrepreneurial support and business mentoring to CARB-X companies in an effort to accelerate a diverse portfolio of at least 20 high-quality antibacterial products toward clinical development.

FAST 2016 Graduating Companies

The Showcase also marked the culmination of the Fall 2016 FAST Program and included presentations from the five graduating FAST companies:  Amaryllis Nucleics, providing the fastest, least expensive method for RNA sequencing preparation; Empire Biotechnologies, an early-stage therapeutics company, focusing on debilitating and fatal gastrointestinal disorders with unmet medical needs; Rex Animal Health, developing precision husbandry and data as a service to the animal health and agriculture industry; SciBac, creating live biotherapeutics that treat antibiotic resistant disease; and SyntheX, a therapeutics company that disrupts cellular communication pathways to target proteins that are undruggable through other approaches.

The program also included a retrospective look from two previous FAST graduates, Colleen Cutcliffe, CEO of Whole Biome, and Nick Conley, CEO of EpiBiome, both of whom discussed how the FAST program helped further their company’s success.

The final highlight of the evening was the award of the PharmaDirections JumpStart grant to FAST Fall 2015 Graduate Valitor. Dr. Wesley Jackson accepted the award, which will provide the company with a comprehensive product development plan valued at $25,000.

FAST Spring 2017 Open for Application

Applications for the Spring 2017 program are open through January 27, 2017.  Apply now. For information on the FAST program, contact Steve Karp at FAST@califesciences.org or Stewart Noyce at snoyce@califesciences.org.