Triangle life-science companies won four of the five major awards at the recent SEBIO awards.

The SEBIO Leadership Award was presented to Jeff Clark, founder of Aurora Funds.

Argos Therapeutics took home the SEBIO Deal of the Year Award in the category of Venture Capital Transaction.

Vascular Pharmaceuticals won in two categories for SEBIO Deal of the Year: Strategic Investment and Initial Funding.

The CED Team caught up with each of the companies and with Clark to get their thoughts on winning these prestigious awards and on the life science industry in the Research Triangle.

  • Our Interview with Jeff Clark, founder of Aurora Funds:

What does winning this award mean to you?

It is always an honor to receive an award from a prestigious organization, but it becomes special when the recognition comes from your colleagues and your friends. I was touched and honored – it is a very nice recognition.

What’s the current state of entrepreneurship in the Triangle, with attention to the life sciences?

I’ve been plugged in here (RTP) since we started Aurora in 1994. The Triangle is widely recognized as one of the top spots to grow and build healthcare companies, especially in biotechnology, clinical research organizations and a growing presence in medical devices and diagnostics.

We’ve had several successes and we have several companies that are still privately held that will have successful exits in the next 2-4 years.

Any challenges?

Funding is without question, tight right now – it can be discouraging to put money together. That said, the best companies will find a path forward. This is what innovation is about – you have to find some way, some pocket, that will fund the next phase of development.

I am aware of a lot of companies where people are pulling together funding, and are making very solid progress.

It’s our understanding that you are also an investor in Argos, a fellow SEBIO award winner. Tell us a bit more about your involvement – we imagine it is a high honor to see the company win as well.

I was the original lead investor in Argos – back in 1997-1998. I’ve been involved for almost 15 years, we’re now into Phase 3 Clinical Trials, and we’ll know the results of the trials in two and a half or three years. If things go well, we have the opportunity to dramatically impact the course of kidney cancer. We’ll be able to extend survivorship for more than a year in intermediate cases, which would be a huge accomplishment.

You’ve also served as the Chair of CED’s Board of Directors. Can you comment on the growth of the organization and the current state of the organization?

CED has been the primary resource for promoting entrepreneurship in the Triangle for the last 25 years, and continues to get better each year. I think CED is strong – is doing its best work today that it has ever done.

Editor’s note: Jason H. Parker, outdoor enthusiast and startup advocate, is Associate Director, Marketing Communications and Digital Media for the CED. Find him online @jasonhparker.

The interview was originally published at the CED Start Something blog and is reprinted with permission.

(C) CED 2012