PINEHURST,Double the number of investors from last year showed up at Southeastern BIO. Does that mean the investment climate is improving?


Intersouth Partner’s Garheng Kong tells Local Tech Wire that the mood at the two-day conference was better in part because “funding is moving a little. Some companies are getting initial public offerings of stock out. Some of the first didn’t do so well in the aftermarket, but the next three did a little better. At least people are asking if it’s a window of opportunity.”

Although presenting companies hailed from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, 10 of 17 were NC based.

While none made major announcements, numerous companies let the audience of potential investors, partners, clients and service providers know they had revenues or deals in the works. Others gave LTW brief progress reports:

StemCo Biomedical, Durham, said it expects to generate $10 million in revenue by 2005.

Biolex, Pittsboro, noted it is cranking up manufacturing and expanding its Good Manufacturing Practices approved plant to make proteins via the aquatic plant, Lemna.

Metabolon chief executive John Ryals, well known in the Research Triangle as a founder of Paradigm Genetics, said Metabolon has a “large partnering opportunity in the works,” and is seeking an additional $2 million or $3 million in Series A financing, following its $4 million initial funding.

Michael Murphy, chief executive of Gentris Corp., Morrisville, said that the company is not actually actively fund-raising right now because income from its services division supports the business.

He said Gentris is on tract to do $1.7 million in revenue this year and has already booked $1.7 million for 2004, when it expects to make $10 million. Murphy said Gentris deals with “premier cadre of pharma partners” help fund its work. “We agree to provide services and they fund it,” he said.

The company has stated it wants to raise $3 million to help it launch its first three products, but Murphy says, “We have enough money to sustain us until spring.”

Murphy said Gentris sent a product development protocol to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week, which they’ll use to test a Gentris genotyping product that helps prevent adverse drug reactions. Murphy explains they test to make sure that a novice user following the protocol gets the right results.

The process takes about a month and if results are good, Gentris can start selling the product in the first quarter next year.

Nobex Corp., Research Triangle Park, which makes oral versions of injectable drugs such as insulin, said it seeks a $35 million round it wants to close by the second quarter next year. Nobex said it anticipates a possible IPO in 2005 but is also considering other exits.