Battle Born Venture, Nevada’s state-sponsored venture capital program operating under the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) participated in TuBiomics latest seed-stage funding round. The Knowledge Fund, administered by the Nevada Governor’s office of Economic Development (GOED), is a major instrument to spur the commercialization of university developed intellectual property (IP). Through the Knowledge Fund, GOED supports projects at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), and DRI.
“TuBiomics is a great example of a Knowledge Fund incentivized formation of a spinout company by a Nevada higher education institution,” said Karsten Heise, Senior Director of Strategic Programs & Innovation and administrator of both the SSBCI Program as well as the Knowledge Fund. “Traditional venture and seeds funds are often hesitant to commit to such early-stage startups, which therefore become reliant on grants and/or venture philanthropy, of both there is a shortage here in Nevada. It is therefore vital for a state-sponsored venture capital program to step in to signal confidence to other institutional investors. With the Knowledge Fund and Battle Born Venture we have the complete set of tools to cover the full continuum from laboratory to development and company launch.”
TuBiomics is a Nevada-based systems biology company, targeting the agriculture biotechnology market. The company was spun out of DRI. The spinout process followed an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) model. The company’s founder and CEO, Brian Speicher, who earned a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University focused on quantitative methods, and an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, identified the intellectual property with a market opportunity at DRI. Speicher’s perspective and vision for the company is grounded in his personal experience. Before his Knowledge Fund supported tenure at DRI in a business development role, he spent 25 years discovering and developing drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.
TuBiomics employs two research and development platforms to explore the soil microbiome in search of sustainable crop health solutions for industrial agriculture. One platform generates bioactive chemistry from microbial communities, and the second platform is a computational engine that models the complex interactions of microbial communities.
“The integration of the two platforms aims to improve sensemaking and reduce the complexity of microbial communities”, Speicher said. “We are working to reveal novel, but sustainable products that are based on the systems-level functioning of microbial communities. This contrasts with the historical approach of chemical development, which is primarily based on screening libraries of molecules without regard to the ecosystem into which they are to be introduced. I was able to identify early on with the systems-level scientific perspective at DRI”, Speicher reflected. “Effective, long-term solutions for complex problems require complex thinking. The qualified people devoting themselves to these endeavors are often seated within higher education. That’s what enables organizations like the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to be a useful reservoir of technology and expertise in our region, and a go-to destination for entrepreneurs seeking value creating opportunities.”
Speicher added, “The regional ecosystem in northern Nevada has been invaluable as well. The early support received from the Knowledge Fund and the downstream capital investment from Battle Born Ventures have been indispensable in providing TuBiomics with support and guidance since its inception.”
Viable university spinout companies which are actively raising an investment round are encouraged to apply to Battle Born Venture.
About the Governor’s Office of Economic Development
Created during the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is the result of a collaborative effort between the Nevada Legislature and the Governor’s Office to restructure economic development in the state. GOED’s role is to promote a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, to stimulate business expansion and retention, encourage entrepreneurial enterprise, attract new businesses and facilitate community development.
About the State Small Business Credit Initiative
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed The American Rescue Plan Act, which reauthorized and funded the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The new version of the SSBCI program provides a combined $10 billion to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to empower small businesses to access capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities as the country emerges from the pandemic. The funds will also support recipient jurisdictions in promoting American entrepreneurship and democratizing access to startup capital across the country, including in underserved communities. GOED oversees the Nevada SSBCI Program. It is operated by Nevada Battle Born Growth Escalator, Inc. a corporation for public benefit and 501(c)(3) non-profit created by GOED in 2016. Nevada’s SSBCI Program contains four loan programs and one venture capital program, Battle Born Venture.
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