30 Aug IU Ventures delivers $475,000 of renewed investment in emerging health, technology companies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IU Ventures delivers $475,000 of renewed investment in emerging health, technology companies
BLOOMINGTON, IN— IU Ventures is doubling down on its investment in two emerging Indiana University-affiliated companies that have rapidly distinguished themselves as innovators and solution-finders in their respective industries and in the U.S. Midwest.
IU Ventures, which assists IU students, faculty, staff and alumni with advancing high potential new venture opportunities, has made a $100,000 follow-on investment in Indianapolis-based Apexian Pharmaceuticals. The clinical stage biotechnology company, led by Mark R. Kelley, the Betty and Earl Herr Professor of Pediatric Oncology Research at the IU School of Medicine, is focused on developing therapeutic agents to treat cancer and several other life-threatening diseases.
IU Ventures has also made a follow-on investment of $375,000 in NuCurrent, which is based in Chicago. Founded by IU alumnus Jacob Babcock, NuCurrent is a wireless technology company dedicated to providing Fortune 500 companies and major product developers with wireless power solutions for consumer technologies, such as smartphones, wearable devices and laptop computers, as well as for implanted medical instruments and industrial robots.
NuCurrent will receive another investment through the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which aims to advance early-stage startup companies with strong connections to IU. In 2019, NuCurrent received a $1M investment from the fund, IU Ventures’ largest investment to date. The new investment in Apexian was made through the Innovate Indiana Fund, which had previously supported a $300,000 investment in the company
“We are extremely excited by the recent successes and extraordinary potential of these two IU-affiliated companies,” said IU Ventures President and CEO Tony Armstrong. “Both are determined to advance their missions of delivering first-class service and to push through new, solution-based innovations through their respective industry pipelines. Both are ready to take the next step forward, making them great investments for evergreen funds.”
Apexian: Attracting attention through clinical innovation
Apexian is a privately held clinical-stage company looking for safe and effective therapies that will improve the lives of patients with a number of debilitating or life-threatening ailments. Its lead drug candidate, APX3330, targets a molecule demonstrating a role in a number of cancers — pediatric and adult — as well as diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. APX3330 recently completed a Phase 1 study in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Apexian has matured from having one compound in clinical trials to possessing a broader pipeline of new agents and conducting emerging research that has signaled promise in treatments for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
The company also has a licensing partnership — and a Phase II clinical trial underway — with publicly traded NASDAQ listed Ocuphire Pharma (OCUP). This partnership could be transformative for patients enduring diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema, which are historically treated via injections to the eye.
As Apexian’s novel pharmaceutical delivery pathway succeeds in more diverse clinical trials, the company’s potential as a platform for clinical innovation is catching the attention of other entrepreneurs and investors.
“We’ve been lucky to achieve alignment in connections, timing, trials and safety,” said Mark Kelley, founder and chief scientific officer of Apexian. “Part of that luck has been to have the right people on the bus from the very beginning, including our partners at Indiana University.”
Tim Tichenor, managing director at Pearl Street Venture Funds and a member of Apexian’s board of directors, underscored IU’s role in helping Apexian grow, especially through tech transfer of intellectual property.
“[IU has] shown amazing partnership and collaboration to make sure our agreements are market-based and that we are performing due diligence,” he said. “IU is a major partner in helping us make sure everyone walks away from deals happy.”
Kelley added that in addition to licensing and funding from groups like IU Ventures, the university’s network of innovators and business leaders has also been essential to Apexian’s success.
“They have never stopped opening up contacts for us to grow, and that’s how you become a successful biotech company,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier about all aspects of the relationship, which also touches multiple departments and groups at IU. They continue to step up in every way one would expect, and beyond.”
NuCurrent: Prepared to power up
In NuCurrent, IU Ventures sees a company ready to discover new product breakthroughs, expand its partner portfolio and experience greater growth as the demand for its expertise in the emerging wireless power marketplace increases.
“Most industries saw a downturn in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, and this included the wireless power industry because of significant supply change disruptions,” said Jason Whitney, vice president of venture development at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “Nevertheless, NuCurrent, under CEO Jacob Babcock’s leadership, continued to
provide fast, custom and innovative product engineering solutions to its partners, strengthening the company’s position in a market that experts predict will see a major resurgence in the coming years.”
NuCurrent CEO Jacob Babcock is an IU alumnus who subsequently received his law degree from Northwestern University, where he and other researchers developed the initial concepts that led to the company’s formation in 2013. NuCurrent’s core technologies span magnetics, software and systems simulation. The company has over 200 patents granted and pending globally, along with unparalleled internal tools that decrease the time it takes for new products to reach the marketplace, improve product performance and mitigate major development risks.
“Since the first IU Ventures investment, NuCurrent has made significant strides in many important early-stage metrics,” said Mike Harmon, director of marketing and communications at NuCurrent. “We have launched more product categories with wireless charging than any company in the world with several more planned for 2021.”
Harmon underscored that much of the company’s growth — including increases in revenue, funding, full-time employees, office locations, customers and repeat customers — occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the continued support of IU Ventures, the company expects to add more chapters to its success story and to give back to Indiana’s next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.
“Being part of the IU Ventures family means having access to a supportive and connected funding partner who makes the effort to share NuCurrent’s unique story and value proposition,” Harmon said. “It also means having access to a broad network of influential business leaders. As the relationship develops, we see opportunities to connect with students interested in business through recruiting and internship opportunities.”