Bellwether Bio, a University of Washington spinoff that develops next generation cancer diagnostics using cell-free DNA was acquired by Guardant Health (NASDAQ: GH), precision oncology company, in April of 2019. Bellwether Bio emerged from the lab of Genome Sciences Professor Jay Shendure, MD, PhD, who will act as scientific advisor to Guardant Health. Shendure joined the faculty at the Department of Genome Sciences at the UW in 2007 where his research lab focuses on developing and applying new technologies in genomics. Together with the Bellwether Bio team, Guardant Health will further advance its early detection product pipeline.
C-SATS is a performance management system for healthcare professionals to assess and improve as individuals and teams continuously, accurately and objectively. The UW technology spinoff was acquired by Johnson & Johnson on April 5, 2018. CoMotion began supporting the work of Dr. Thomas Lendvay, Associate Professor in the Department of Urology, in 2012 helping him move from idea to impact by lending expertise on licensing and supporting team formation as well as through funding including the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund which was used to support early trials with key potential partners, customer discovery efforts and develop the feedback platform.
“C-SATS started after a matchmaking CoMotion provided. We turned into a company that sold countrywide, and has since been acquired by Johnson & Johnson.”
- Dr. Thomas Lendvay, Co-founder, C-SATS
PvP Biologics is a UW spinoff that is developing an oral enzyme for the treatment of celiac disease which affects an estimated 2.4 million Americans. The technology was invented over the course of five years by Ingrid Swanson and David Baker at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design. In January of 2017 they announced a $35 million agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical to advance its therapy for the disease. Takeda acquired PvP Biologics in February 2020. Located in CoMotion Labs, PvP Biologics is giving back through their contribution to the economic development of Washington state.
“I want to sincerely thank CoMotion for all their hard work in getting our license through”
- Ingrid Swanson Pultz, Co-founder, PvP Biologics
Icosavax is focused on developing safe and effective vaccines against infectious diseases to address important unmet medical needs and reduce healthcare costs. In October 2019 the company raised $51 million Series A financing, led by Qiming Venture Partners USA and joined by Adams Street Partners, Sanofi Ventures and NanoDimension. Icosavax was founded on breakthrough computationally-designed virus-like particle technology from the Institute for Protein Design at the UW, exclusively licensed for a variety of infectious disease indications. CoMotion has supported Icosavax on matters of intellectual property protection, strategy and management.
Turi is a machine learning and AI startup acquired by Apple in August of 2016. The company began as an open-source project at Carnegie Mellon in 2009 under Carlos Guestrin’s guidance. In 2012, he joined the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos provided $2 million to endow two professorships in machine learning at the UW for Guestrin and his wife, Emily Fox. The startup received support from CoMotion through our various programs including CoMotion Labs. Guestrin invested back in the UW through a $1,000,000 endowed professorship in AI and machine learning—a great example of how our investments in startups come back full circle to the UW.
Universal Cells, the biotech spinoff, was acquired by Japanese firm Astellas Pharma in February of 2018. Astellas gained their proprietary Universal Donor Cell technology to create cell therapy products that don’t require Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching. The technology genetically alters stem cells so they can be used by anyone, instead of patients needing to use their own stem cells or find donor stem cells with matching biomarkers. CoMotion has helped to advance technologies developed by UW Professor David Russell including assistance on an SBIR grant application, a Commercialization Fellowship, funding, introductions to CoMotion mentors, the filing and managing of patents, and the negotiation of the exclusive licensing agreement with Universal Cells in 2014.
Membrion is a UW spinoff whose technology uses readily available, non-toxic and low-cost materials to produce advanced ceramic ion exchange membranes which perform better and cost significantly less than today’s ceramic and polymer options. They are currently deploying this technology to the rapidly growing desalination market, helping to address the global water crisis. In March 2020 they closed a Series A round, led by Bellingham Angel Investors, included participation from existing investors as well as new funding from WRF Capital and SeaChange Fund, with a total of $6 million. Membrion founder and CEO Greg Newbloom is a former CoMotion Commercialization Fellow, a program which hires grad students after graduation for one year so they can continue working on their innovation.
Neoleukin is a UW biopharmaceutical spinoff of the Institute of Protein Design that utilizes sophisticated computational methods to design de novo protein therapeutics. The company merged with a publicly traded Vancouver, B.C. based company in August of 2019, and will focus on the development and commercialization of computationally-designed protein therapeutics to address significant unmet medical needs in immuno-oncology, inflammation, and autoimmunity. In December 2019 they announced the closing of an underwritten public offering, raising approximately $86.2 million. CoMotion has supported Neoleukin on matters of intellectual property protection, strategy and management.