Accelerating the Creation of Lifescience Companies in Ohio

Rev1 Ventures is expanding support for life sciences companies commercializing technologies from The Ohio State University (OSU) and Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) with the launch of Rev1 Catalyst Fund III. The $30 million fund invests capital and provides strategic services for pre-seed, seed-stage, and early-stage healthcare innovators.

“We set out to support research-based healthcare innovation with a continuum of professionally managed, organized capital to help open the door and increase the throughput of life science technology from The Ohio State University (OSU) and Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) into startup companies,” said Tom Walker, Rev1 CEO. “Now we will have $50 million under management.”

Catalyst II has accelerated our community’s ability to create several high-potential new companies based on incredible innovations from OSU and NCH. The quality and substance of the opportunity and the ability of these institutions and Rev1 to partner, spinout, and capitalize on new ventures have an incredible impact on our region.

“These funds have produced exactly that effect intended, with all three partners working together on opportunities and to help companies launch,” Walker said.

“If you look at start-up life sciences companies moving new drugs into clinical trials in the ten years before we launched the first fund, we had very few in our region reaching this milestone; Since, we have five portfolio companies with drugs in clinical trials or producing drugs for the market. Not only are we spinning companies out, but these companies also are reaching critical milestones on the pathway to bringing these new therapies to market,” he said.

Neary 100 Spinouts – $450 Million in Exits  – $100 Million+ in Follow-on Rounds and Co-investments

“The life science industry is growing here,” Walker said. “For example, Myonexus was a company we invested in through our first fund with technology out of NCH. After acquiring Myonexus, Sarepta established its gene therapy center in Columbus, strengthening its relationship with NCH and strengthening the life sciences industries presence in our region.”

And there’s so much more:

  • Ohio’s biotechnology entrepreneurs leverage public funding with non-dilutive capital from federal (SBIR and STTR) and state grant funding. Basking Bioscience, Clarametyx Biosciences, and Invirsa, for example, have each received many millions in grant funding to advance pre-clinical and clinical milestones.
  • Quality and expertise of founding teams. Many of the founders of these companies are serial biotechnology entrepreneurs with proven histories. They know what is required for clinical trials because they have succeeded before. These industry leaders bring relationships and reputations to build world-class technical advisory boards. They have long-standing relationships with commercialization entities at OSU and NCH.
  • The biotechnology ecosystem built on innovative startups provides a career path for Ohio graduates and PhDs and attracts scientists from other states. The exciting application of spinout technologies is a strategy to keep more of the excellent graduates from OSU and other advanced institutions in Ohio here, instead of losing them to opportunities in Boston or California or elsewhere.
  • Rev1’s startup studio model helps entrepreneur refine their strategy and validate markets. Based on best practices learned from working with more than 1000 companies, to provide best practices, network connections to other CEOs and teams, and guidance to identify and pursue relevant grant opportunities. 

Rev1 Catalyst Fund and Rev1 NCH Fund, our first two funds focused on life science spinouts, have generated more than $450 million in exits—startups with the potential to transform the lives of thousands.

  • Celenex, a clinical-stage gene therapy startup, was built on the passion of two devoted parents and on ground-breaking technology licensed from NCH and OSU to develop gene therapy treatments for Batten disease. Children with Batten disease lose their vision, motor function, and their lives, usually before they reach the early teens. Now in clinical trials, Celenex, with its potential first-to-market curative therapies, was acquired by Amicus Therapeutics for $100 million-plus after remarkably strong pre-clinical results.
  • Myonexus Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy spinout from NCH, is developing first-ever gene treatments for multiple types of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), a group of progressive, debilitating musculoskeletal genetic diseases that cause wasting of muscles in the arms and legs. Myonexus was acquired by Sarepta Therapeutics for $165 million.
  • Deep Lens, with licensed technology from NCH, is focused on bringing one of the world’s first digital pathology cloud-based platforms to make analysis and diagnosis more informed and to empower collaboration between pathology experts from around the world. The focus is on rebuilding the clinical research ecosystem and creating equal access. Deep Lens was acquired by Paradigm.

Since launching in 2019,  Rev1 Catalyst Fund II has invested more than $10 million in eight unique companies across 16 financial rounds that raised more than $100 million in follow-on and co-investment. This capital allows these companies to invest in work that enables them to prepare and conduct clinical trials. Additionally, these companies are very savvy about securing federal grants, such as SBIR and STTR, as well funding from grant programs from the state of Ohio, leveraging Catalyst Fund and other venture capital investment with millions of dollars in non-dilutive capital.

  • Clarametyx Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotechnology company with licensed technology from NCH and OSU, is developing targeted immune-enabling biologic therapies to counter infection, and recently announced positive early Phase 1 safety findings. Currently conducting clinical trials of therapies to treat community-acquired pneumonia, Clarametyx is focused on therapies that clear infection without the need for antibiotics.
  • Basking Bioscience, an OSU spinout moving toward Stage II clinical trials, is developing a novel treatment strategy for stroke—the cause of the largest amount of combined morbidity and mortality in the United States. Current stroke therapies for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) can treat less than 15 percent of stroke patients. Basking’s therapy holds potential for the 80 percent of AIS patients per year who are left without an acute treatment to rapidly restore blood flow to the brain.
  • Invirsa, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing new treatments for eye conditions associated with DNA damage, recently closed on a $7.7 million Series B financing led by Cincy Tech with participate from Rev1 Ventures, JobsOhio Growth Capital Fund, and JumpStart Ventures. The funds support a series of FDA Phase 2 studies and preparation for FDA Phase 3 clinical trials in infectious keratoconjunctivitis (pink eye), dry eye disease, and Fuchs corneal dystrophy. Invirsa has been headquartered at Rev1 Labs since the company was formed.
  • Armatus Bio is developing bioengineering technologies to build a pipeline of next-generation genetic-based therapy candidates to reset the outlook for people with rare diseases. Headquartered at Rev1’s Innovation Lab, the company is working on preclinical milestones, targeting a range of diseases for communities with few or no therapeutics today.
  • STAQ Pharma, is a compounding pharmaceutical / contract manufacturing operation. The firm has designed and built outsourcing facilities in Denver, CO, and Columbus, OH, providing adult and pediatric medications in ready-to-use form that match patient needs. At full build-out the facility will have capacity to produce up to 30,000 syringes per day and thousands of IV bags.
  • Vitranu is a pre-clinical stage OSU spinout developing a drug delivery technology that enables patients who require drug injects to the eye to receive them less frequently. With current technology, millions of people receive seven to twelve injections annually to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD0), the leading cause of blindness in the developing world. Vitranu’s patent pending TERC™ extended-release technology aims to reduce eye injections to two per year or fewer.
  • Eikonoklastes Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of therapies targeting neurodegenerative diseases and cancers with the highest unmet clinical needs. The first has licensed and is developing therapies for disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and triple negative breast cancer.

Ohio as a Bioscience Hub

“We have the ability to take a foundation of academic and clinical inquiry and practices to the next level—to spinout, scaleup, and grow new biotechnology companies right here in Ohio,” said Wayne Embree, Rev1 Senior Advisory Partner.

“The attitude that only certain places can create entrepreneurial opportunity in life sciences, is backward thinking, and we are proving it wrong. With Catalyst III, we are creating a local advantage to put Ohio talent and technology into companies that begin and scale up here,” Embree said.