Six Biotech Leaders Honored at the Baltimore Business Journal’s Tech10 Awards

June 25, 2019

Baltimore, MD is an ever-growing hotbed for “Tech”, ranked fifth among emerging startup cities by Forbes.  Among the various industries that make up Baltimore’s “tech” ecosystem, Biotech is one of the most prolific. At this year’s Tech10 Awards, hosted annually by the Baltimore Business Journal, four of the top honoree slots are tied to Biotech.  

Honorees are recognized for the work they have done to promote and advance Maryland’s stronghold in the tech industries. From technology commercialization and investment to serial Baltimore-based entrepreneurship and making a social impact for developing countries across the globe, these tech leaders epitomize the best of Baltimore.

Here are the four companies and six individuals being honored as Baltimore’s Tecch10 and what they have done to make a significant impact in shaping the local biotech industry:

George Petrocheilos and Dr. Jacob Vogelstein, General Partners Camden Partners

Camden Partners, a Baltimore based private equity firm, launched its first venture capital fund in 2016 to invest in biotech companies with ties to Maryland.  Camden Partners Nexus was co-founded by Dr. Jacob Vogelstein and George Petrocheilos. The founders are dedicated to a unique model of commercializing innovative research and provide early-stage funding to Maryland’s biomedical startups, and even helping founders build companies from scratch.

What makes Camden Partners Nexus unique is the science-focused strategy behind it.  There are only two other strategies in the country that apply a similar model. Petrocheilos and Vogelstein have brought on over 20 scientific venture partners; world-renowned scientists who are also serial entrepreneurs or have a track record of commercializing their discoveries.

“We are picking the best and brightest minds from the top labs at Hopkins, Maryland and now across the country,” shared Petrocheilos. “We give them equity, get their opinion on investment opportunities, and also help them to commercialize their technologies.  This model is the most efficient way to achieve fast, successful commercialization.”

Notable investments by Camden Partners Nexus include Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx), Sisu Global, WindMIL Therapeutics, and Thrive Early Detection which recently raised a $110M series A round – the largest seed round that any JHU spinout has ever raised. Thrive was co-founded by Bert Vogelstein, MD, who happens to be Jacob Vogelstein’s father, the co-founder of PGDx, and one of Camden Partners Nexus first venture partners.

Kelli Booth and Ken Malone, Founders and Principals of Early Charm Ventures

In 2012, Kelli Booth and Ken Malone founded Early Charm Ventures, a startup studio in Baltimore that converts science to business. They work with scientists who have made brilliant discoveries at universities and turn these breakthroughs into companies by focusing on growing the science and creating sustained commercial value.

Their model is based on working directly with the faculty and showing up in person at the labs and offices daily to help with the heavy lifting. The Early Charm Ventures team brings deep experience in co-founding companies with leading researchers in materials science, imaging, and aquaculture. Their goal is to partner with exceptional people ​and their help advance their ideas to grow or even create whole new industries.  Some of the companies they have helped grow include: DiPole Materials, Inc., SciGenesis, LLC, SilcsBio, LLC, Abri Science, LLC, MinnowTech, LLC, Gaskiya Diagnostics, LLC, Tarsier Optics, Inc., Rasio Therapeutics, Inc., VakSea, Inc., and NanoDirect, LLC.

Why is Charm City such a great place for launching new biotech companies?  According to Malone, “Baltimore is all about proximity to world-class talent. Our offices are a five-minute subway ride from Hopkins in one direction and UMB in the other. We can walk across the street to the Institute of Marine Environmental Technology (IMET), take a ten-minute scooter ride to MICA and UB, and UMBC is just a fifteen-minute drive.”

Carolyn Yarina, CEO of Sisu Global Health

Sisu Global Health is a medical device company aiming to disrupt the way medical devices and technology are created and commercialized for emerging markets. Carolyn Yarina, CEO and Co-founders aim to break into emerging markets by creating the best possible commercial success.

Their first device Hemafuse, gained regulatory approval in Kenya and Ghana and has been helping to combat the 50-60% donor blood shortage across Africa. Hemafuse is a device that is able to collect and filter a patient’s own blood to be transfused back to the patient during surgery, without using electricity. This novel device was created for the doctors and patients of African healthcare, with their needs in mind.

Yarina and her other co-founders have attracted several notable investors including lead investor Camden Partners Nexus Fund, AOL co-founder Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, TEDCO through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) as well as the Abell Foundation.

Bill Niland, CEO of ReGelTec

Bill Niland, CEO of ReGelTec, has spent his 35-year career in the healthcare industry and has an impressive track record that includes leading four successful medical device startups. Most recently he was the CEO of Harpoon Medical which was acquired by Edwards Lifesciences Corp. in 2017 for $100M upfront and up to $250M overall. Niland also currently serves as a Director to several other local medical device companies such as Sonavex, CoapTech and NeoProgen.

ReGelTec is a medical device company that is developing the next generation of minimally invasive spinal implants for lower back pain and degenerative disc disease. The company, lead by Niland and three former Harpoon executives, raised $2 million in equity financing from TEDCO, the Abell Foundation and angel investors in 2018 to move their technology forward.

These leaders all reflect what Baltimore’s biotech hub is all about; innovation, leadership, commercialization, social good, patient impact and commitment to the local community.  Congratulations to all of this year’s Tech10 Honorees and thank you for all you do to move new technologies and the city forward.

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