BioVenture Forum in Oklahoma Encourages Entrepreneurship

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) BioVenture Forum aims to facilitate interactions between international scientific teams and the biotechnology community, demonstrating scientific achievements from Oklahoma to potential investors. “When people think of Oklahoma, they think of oil and gas… We want them to see a biotech mecca here, as well,” said Manu Nair, OMRF’s Vice President of Technology Ventures. One of the companies showcased at the forum was Oklahoma-based Selexys Pharmaceuticals, which has turned out to be a great entrepreneurial success story for the state.

In November 2016, the largest life sciences agreement in the history of Oklahoma was signed. Selexys were acquired by Novartis, who are the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, for $665 million. This was one of the top five mergers of US-based companies in the last quarter of the year.  Before the takeover, the start-up received investment funds from i2E (an Oklahoma-based small business) and the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund, as well as around $12 million in grants.

Historically, venture capital has been in short supply in Oklahoma. Start-ups in Oklahoma are now being supported, thanks to the state’s model for developing venture capital. This includes both state and private funding from organizations like The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and i2E. While Oklahoma cannot compete with states like Massachusetts or New York, the cost of undertaking research there is lower, so investment funds can go further.

Former Selexys CEO, Scott Rollins, is now running another Oklahoma-based pharmaceutical company, Tetherex Pharmaceuticals, which aims to develop a treatment for Chrohn’s disease and cancer. Companies like this will benefit both Oklahoma and the global community for years to come.

There are many research activities that qualify pharmaceutical companies for the R&D Tax Credit. Contact a Swanson Reed specialist to learn more.

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