It’s no secret that we love our pets and would be willing to do almost anything to keep them healthy.
Last year Americans spent $55.7 billion on them, according to the American Pet Products Association, of which $14.37 billion went to veterinary care and $13.14 billion was spent on over-the-counter medicines.
That focus was affirmed again Tuesday, Aug. 26 at the sixth annual KC Animal Health Investment Forum in Kansas City, Mo., where 14 selected North American emerging animal-health companies presented a wide array of plans and technologies to potential investors.
In attendance were financial firms and animal-health companies. Some of the presenting firms were seeking funds and others were striving for a partnership with an animal-health firm. Due diligence from an investor or animal-health partner can take between a year and 18 months. In the five-year history of the forum, presenters have raised $130 million, secured licensing deals, distribution agreements and some have been acquired, said Kimberly Young, Kansas City Area Development Council vice president bioscience development.
Applications were accepted between mid-January and mid-April. A Corridor Team and Expedite (animal-health consulting company that facilitates the Selection Committee meeting) performed an initial review of applications – this year there were 30 – which provided an opportunity for presenters to clarify information or submit additional details in areas where we believe the company has not best positioned itself, explained Young.
Next, an 11-member Selection Committee of experts in animal-health and agricultural investment opportunities received all applications, reviewing and rating each on the following criteria:
What Is the opportunity?; Innovation; How big is the opportunity?; How will they make money?; unique technology; Can they defend the business?; funding required; partnership or licensing agreement use of proceeds, exits; management team.
Each Selection Committee member sent in his/her scores to the Corridor, with all scores compiled into an aggregate tally for each company. With that data in hand, the companies were ranked from highest to lowest score.
The Selection Committee met in an all-day session in Kansas City to discuss each application and determine which applicants were most ready to present at the forum. There is not a specific number of finals applicants.
“This year’s selection of presenting companies is a great representation of the future of the global animal-health industry,” said Rich Shuler, president and CEO, Shuler Consulting Services, who served on the Selection Committee. “Many of the emerging technologies we are seeing today are coming from new sources that view animal health as an exciting opportunity for innovation and investment.”
Presenting companies were seeking $500,000 to $20 million in funding and have revenue projections of $20 million within five to seven years.
Here’s a taste of the diversity of the presenters:
- CK9, LLC, Kansas City, Kan.: Proposes to develop and commercialize a proprietary product for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis in dogs. It is repurposing an existing human medication for care of canine patients, and plans to pursue registration of the first product approved for the condition.
- SciStem, Inc., Athens, Ga.: Seeks to develop and commercialize FDA-approved stem-cell products for bone healing and as disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs. The initial product would be “fracture putty,” which would prove a stem-cell based gene therapy that would increase the speed and quality of bone healing while decreasing the cost to the owner.
- Traverse Biosciences Inc., Sunny Brook, N.Y.: Proposes to develop an FDA approved, once daily medication for the prevention of canine periodontal disease. Based on a naturally occurring compound, the company’s active ingredient has been shown in disease models to reduce inflammation and bone loss with no observed toxicity.
- TVAX Animal Health, LLC, Lenexa, Kan.: Proposes to develop a proprietary, cell-based immunotherapy for the treatment of various cancers in animals. Most current treatments involve the use of radiation and/or chemotherapy. The company will develop a novel platform for stimulation of the animal’s own immune system to combat a variety of cancers.
- Veterinary Energy Technologies, Inc., Apopka, Fla.: Plans to bring a proprietary cold plasma energy technology to treat wounds and infections. The company’s platform promises to reduce bacteria, fungi and viruses present in wounds as well as enhance the wound healing cascade. The company has produced a prototype device which is ready to begin tests on various animal species and conditions.