Clanging bells, popping corks and high-five cheers are rarities in the life sciences.

That’s why a recent “trifecta” win streak by three NCBiotech loan portfolio companies in a span of about 18 hours deserves a shout-out.

Two loan portfolio companies (Advanced Liquid Logic and BioKier) and a recent loan portfolio graduate (Heat Biologics) all announced big funding news within a two-day span in July 2013.

First came the news that Duke University-spawned Advanced Liquid Logic (ALL) was being acquired for $96 million by the publicly traded San Diego diagnostics giant Illumina.

ALL has used our loan dollars to leverage more than $56 million in additional investment. Here’s some history of NCBiotech’s role in ALL’s growth:

  • ALL had one employee when NCBiotech awarded the first loan.
  • NCBiotech awarded $468,100 through four separate loans to ALL from 2005 to 2009 (fully repaid)
  • ALL participated in NCBiotech VC events in Palo Alto, Boston and NY
  • ALL was the recipient of an NCBiotech Industrial Fellow
  • NCBiotech has made numerous introductions to connect ALL with banks, investors and other key business people.

And here are some of the key ALL outcomes:

  • ALL has created roughly 80 jobs in North Carolina since receiving its first loan from the Center

After the first NCBiotech loan to ALL, the company subsequently raised:

  • $6 million+ from angel investors
  • $30 million+ in federal research grants
  • $20 million+ in strategic partner funding
  • ALL launched its first two products in 2011 – one in newborn screening, one in genomics sample preparation
  • Concluded with the $96 million acquisition by the $9 billion market valued Illumina

Big news in quick succession

The next day BioKier announced a $1.7 million investment from Broadview Ventures and the American Heart Association’s Science and Technology Accelerator Program.

BioKier had key meetings with these two organizations at the NCBiotech-organized Southeast Venture Philanthropy Summit, an event designed to connect companies and academic researchers with foundation funding.

BioKier’s proprietary technology is being developed with the help of a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan made by NCBiotech in 2010. Then it raised some $645,000 from other sources to develop its new approach for greatly improving, even curing, Type 2 diabetes.

Leaders of these North Carolina companies are adamant that NCBiotech’s funding and other support programs were integral in advancing them toward these transformative events. It all serves to demonstrate NCBiotech’s importance in the growth of the state’s life science industry.

“We are encouraged by the continued impact of the Biotechnology Center’s loans,” said Peter Ginsberg, MBA, vice president of NCBiotech Business & Technology Development.

“Our funding consistently leads to subsequent funding from other sources as exemplified by the ALL, BioKier and Heat announcements. In fact, for every $1 in loans that we have awarded to companies, these companies have subsequently attracted $117 from sources such as VCs, strategic partners, angel investors, foundations and the federal government.”

Investing in biopharmaceuticals and their advanced medical device siblings can be gratifying for those with the patience of Job. And the hard truth about investing in the life sciences is that it takes those Jobs to create jobs.

That’s why most banks don’t make loans to young life science companies. Even venture capital investors are becoming increasingly resistant to taking chances on promising early-stage technologies.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has bucked that trend for nearly 30 years, providing loans and other support to new bioscience companies spinning out of the state’s highly productive university labs.

Yet we seldom have a week in which the news and the numbers are this great.

 (C) NC Biotech Center

Editor’s note: Jim Shamp writes and edits news and other web copy, brochures and other internal and external Biotechnology Center materials, and supports the Corporate Communications unit’s marketing and media relations activities.