" Many biotech startups get their money from venture capitalists or by hitting up friends and family. SanoGene Therapeutics has found another source of cash: winning contests for the best startup business plan. "
The Chicago company has scored $139,500 from 10 national and international competitions over the past two years.
It has been nip and tuck, however. SanoGene was launched in early 2006 by two former MBA classmates at the University of Illinois at Chicago - Dr. Cara-lynn V. Nowinski and Chirag V. Patel - to research a gene therapy that might work in fighting cancer.
By that fall, the company was almost out of money. Just in time, Nowinski won a $50,000 grant from the Illinois Commerce & Economic Opportunity Dept. in the annual Midwest Venture Summit competition.
SanoGene is using the money to fund research by Jasti S. Rao.
The head of cancer biology and pharmacology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Rao developed a process to turn off a genetic switch that makes a cell cancerous.
Co-founder Patel, 26, left SanoGene in 2007. For now, acting-CEO Nowinski, 29, is keeping her day job as an associate at ARCH Development Partners.
Saturday, January 23, 2010