Business, Life Sciences, and Technology News Briefs

08/20/11

RelayRides Boosts Series A Round

RelayRides, the San Francisco-based car sharing network, said this week that it has increased its Series A2 funding round to $10 million with help from existing investors Google Ventures and August Capital and new investor Shasta Ventures. Author and entrepreneur Lisa Gansky also contributed to the round. RelayRides raised $5.1 million in Series A2 funding in March and an additional $673,000 in in May.

$650K Round, New App at drchrono

A Mountain View, CA-based electronic health records startup called drchrono announced this week that it has collected $650,000 in new funding from Russian investor Yuri Milner, the founder of DST Global, and General Catalyst. Drchrono makes an iPad-based app that helps physicians’ practices handle medical records, electronic prescribing, medical billing, and patient management. Drchrono also announced the release of a patient check-in app called OnPatient; it allows patients to update their medical data via iPad while in the waiting room.

08/19/11

Evernote Buys Skitch, Announces Developer Competition Winner

At its first-ever developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Mountain View, CA-based online notekeeping startup Evernote announced that it has acquired Skitch. The Australian startup makes a popular Mac application used to capture, annotate, and share images. Evernote has already made the Skitch app free (it formerly cost $19.95 in the Mac App Store) and says it plans to integrate Skitch’s features into Evernote, so that users can more easily save annotated images in their Evernote notebooks. Evernote also announced the winners of its first developer competition, intended to highlight the work of outside developers building applications that integrate with the Evernote service. The $50,000 grand prize winner was Touchanote, an application that stores shortcuts to Evernote notes on near-field communications tags that can be attached to real-world objects.

$15M for GoodData

San Francisco-based GoodData, which offers a cloud-based business intelligence software platform, said yesterday that it has collected $15 million in new venture funding. New investor Andreessen Horowitz led the Series B round, which was joined by existing investors General Catalyst Partners, Fidelity Growth Partners, and Windcrest Partners. The firm, which was founded by Czech-born serial entrepreneur Roman Stanek and was originally based in Cambridge, MA, has raised $28.5 million to date.

WaveRx Shuts Down: VentureWire

WaveRx, a Waltham, MA-based developer of treatments for dermatological disorders, has shut its doors, according to a report in Dow Jones VentureWire today. The firm raised $502,512 las year, and raised about $6.8 million of an $11.6 million equity financing in 2009, according to an SEC document. Its investors, 5Am Ventures, Three Arch Partners, and Polaris Venture Partners, decided to close the company last year as it waited to hear back from the FDA on a clinical trial WaveRx had updated and shifted, following a number of delays, VentureWire reported. Today a call to the company was met with an automated message stating the number is out of service.

BAE and GD Win $1B in Army Contracts

The U.S. Department of Defense announced yesterday that it has awarded two metro Detroit defense firms nearly $1 billion in contracts to develop combat vehicles for the Army.

Troy, MI-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments was awarded a contract worth almost $449.9 million to develop technology for the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle at facilities in Troy; Detroit; Waltham, MA; and Madison, AL.

The Sterling Heights, MI-based General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded a contract worth $439 million to develop technology for the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle at facilities in Sterling Heights; Detroit; Dallas, TX; Plano, TX; and Taunton, MA.

Work on both projects is expected to be completed in June 2013.

Birchbox Nabs $10M

New York-based Birchbox, a membership site that sends samples of beauty products by mail, has raised $10.5 million in a Series A financing, according to VentureWire. The round was led by Accel Partners, and included contributions from Consigliere, First Round Capital, Forerunner Ventures, Harrison Metal, Lerer Ventures, Stanford University Endowment, and others. Birchbox was founded in 2010 by Harvard Business School grads Katia Beauchamp and Haley Barna, who raised $1.4 million in seed funding.

08/18/11

Report: FivePrime CEO Out

Julia Gregory, the CEO of FivePrime Therapeutics, has resigned and been replaced by company founder and executive chairman Lewis “Rusty” Williams, according to a report by In Vivo, a biotech industry publication. Gregory spent two years at the company, and during her time there, struck a lucrative new partnership with Rockville, MD-based Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ: HGSI). A year ago, in an interview with Xconomy, Gregory described FivePrime as a “biotech CEO’s dream.”

Genomatica Signs Up for Italian Job

San Diego’s Genomatica, the industrial biotechnology startup, says it has agreed to establish a joint venture with Novamont, the Italian bio-plastic producer, to develop the first industrial plant in Europe to produce butanediol (BDO) from renewable feedstocks. Novamont plans to use the estimated 40 million pounds per year output to meet the increasing demand for its products. Genomatica will retain an option for a portion of the BDO production.

TouchTunes Rakes in $45M, Plans Expansion

New York’s TouchTunes Interactive Networks raised $45 million according to a press release issued Wednesday. Thirteen-year-old TouchTunes provides digital jukeboxes to restaurants and bars across North America. The new funding comprises a $40 million investment from 3i, for a minority stake in TouchTunes, and a $5 million investment from majority shareholder VantagePoint Capital Partners. TouchTunes said in the press release the new funding will help it expand into Asia and Europe.

08/17/11

Envision Solar Names New CEO

San Diego’s Envision Solar says Desmond Wheatley, the firm’s president and chief operating officer, succeeded founding CEO and chairman Bob Noble on Aug. 10. Noble has moved to a new role as executive chairman. The company also named a new CFO, Chris Caulson.

Zogenix Pain Drug Meets Endpoint

San Diego-based Zogenix says its late-stage efficacy study of hydrocodone bitartrate (Zohydro) met the company’s intended goal, with patients reporting improved chronic pain relief compared to a placebo. The study also demonstrated that the drug candidate was safe and well-tolerated. If federal drug regulators approve the drug for the U.S. market, Zogenix says it could be the first extended-release hydrocodone treatment available without acetaminophen, which has been linked to an increased risk of liver damage when used in high doses over time. Zogenix has been developing a series of drugs, each paired with its needle-free injector system, and plans to seek regulatory approval for each drug-and-device combo.

Bezos Gives $10M to Museum

Billionaire Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is giving $10 million to establish a “Center for Innovation” at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, which is moving into a new headquarters next year near the new Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The new center will focus on the legacy of innovation in business and global health in the Seattle area. In a news release, Bezos called out “the disproportionate number of extraordinary organizations” founded in the region, including Microsoft, Boeing, UPS, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Genentech, Plexxikon Cancer Drug Gets FDA OK

Genentech, the South San Francisco-based unit of Roche, and its Berkeley, CA-based Plexxikon, a unit of Daiichi Sankyo, said today that the FDA has approved their new drug for certain patients with melanoma that has spread through the body. The FDA said the companies can now start selling vemurafenib (Zelboraf) for patients who have mutations of a protein called BRAF that is implicated in their melanoma. The drug, which showed startlingly positive results in clinical trials, was approved ahead of the FDA’s legal deadline of Oct. 28, an action the agency rarely takes.

Umami Gets $1.65M in Seed Funds

New York startup Umami said in a press release Tuesday it raised $1.65 million in seed funding from Battery Ventures, NEA, and angel investors. Umami is a platform that broadcasters can use to publish additional content for television shows that viewers are watching. Umami said it has a free iPad app currently in a closed beta test with undisclosed television networks and others. Umami was founded by Scott Rosenberg, most recently vice president of advanced advertising at Rovi, and Bryan Slavin, former vice president of product development at Lightningcast. Umami plans to launch its services with this year’s fall television season.

Cinchcast Lands $6M in Series B Round

New York’s Cinchcast, formerly known as BlogTalkRadio, said in a press release Wednesday it raised $6 million in a series B funding round led by Guggenheim Partners. Cinchcast provides services to record, publish, and share audio content over the Internet using telephones and web browsers. The company said the new funding will go toward expansion of its audio publishing services, sales and marketing, and to continue the growth of its media property BlogTalkRadio, an online platform for hosting live talk shows.

Regeneron Shares Fall on FDA Delay

Shares of Tarrytown, NY-based Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) were down 4 percent in morning trading to $54.95 on news that the FDA has delayed its decision on the company’s macular degeneration drug by three months. The company had initially expected to hear by August 20 if the drug, called aflibercept (Eyelea), would be approved. But the FDA classified Regeneron’s recent responses to questions regarding the chemistry, manufacturing, and controls as a “major amendment” to the original approval application, according to a press release, and extended the date for a decision to November 18. The drug addresses a multibillion-dollar market and thus is expected to be Regeneron’s first major foray into the commercial pharmaceutical market.

08/16/11

Seattle Children’s Gets $2.3M from Gates

Seattle Children’s Hospital said today it has received a two-year, $2.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue development of its low-cost ventilator for premature infants that need help in order to breathe. More than 1 million infants die every year because of inadequate lung function, and the Children’s device aims to reduce that figure by offering a ventilator that is simpler to run and cheaper than the ventilators used in developed countries. I last wrote an in-depth feature on this technology, developed by Seattle Children’s CEO Tom Hansen and colleagues, last August.

Kineta Adds $2.8M Grant

Seattle-based Kineta, the developer of drugs for immune disorders, said it has received a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support Kineta’s work on a new class of antiviral drugs that trigger the innate immune system to fight various viruses like hepatitis C, influenza, and West Nile. The company said it expects to pick a lead drug candidate in 2012.

BuyWithMe Picks Up Scoop St.

BuyWithMe, the group buying site with headquarters in Boston and New York, said today that is has acquired Scoop St., a group buying site focused closely on New York local deals. No financial terms were disclosed. BuyWithMe offers will be available to Scoop St. immediately, and come September 12, Scoop St. will no longer be a separate entity and will be entirely rolled into BuyWithMe. This deal continues BuyWithMe’s 2011 spree of acquisitions, including LocalTwist (active in Seattle and San Diego), San Francisco-based Group Swoop, Chicago-based DealADayOnline, and Cambridge, MA-based Edhance.

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