Funds Raised By ATI Startups Point to Growing Austin Biotech Scene

Xconomy Texas — 

The Austin Technology Incubator said Wednesday that its current and alumni companies have raised a total of $100 million during the first three months of this year, a record quarterly tally since the organization’s founding in 1989.

In particular, one ATI alum is responsible for the bulk of the cash haul: Aeglea Biotherapeutics closed a $44 million Series B financing to further developa treatment to prevent cancer cells from importing arginine from the bloodstream. Doing so would stop the cancer cells from growing after the tumors themselves no longer produce the protein. The funding round, which was led by Lilly Ventures and Novartis Ventures, is being used to further the company’s development of engineered human enzymes, which were invented by University of Texas at Austin scientist George Georgiou.

Another ATI company, SpredFast, took home $24 million in financing from Silver Lake Management. SpredFast merged with crosstown social media marketer and competitor Mass Relevance last year. And Xeris Pharmaceuticals, which graduated from ATI’s biosciences incubator last year, brought in $17.9 million in January. Xeris will use the funds to continue the development of its extensive pipeline of hypoglycemia-management products.

Cindy Walker Peach, ATI’s program manager, says these totals are notable because two of the largest fund-raisers are Austin, TX-based biotech and life sciences firms. That means a growing ecosystem in the Texas state capital, she adds.

“We anticipate the expansion of technology creation and patient-centered solutions with the addition of the Dell Medical School” at UT, she says.