Monthly Archives: August 2012

New Pharma Accelerator Accele Secures $10M First Fund

Source: DowJones Venture Wire
Timothy Hay
August 03, 2012

A new accelerator program for fledgling drug developers is preparing to launch in Oklahoma City, and its organizers have held a first, $10 million close of a companion fund that will help launch the companies.

Clayton Duncan, who has been both an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist, said Accele BioPharma Inc., the accelerator, will look to double the size of its fund over the next year.

The first close included participation from several institutions, foundations and high-net-worth individuals, Mr. Duncan said, declining to name the investors in Accele Venture Partners I LP.

When Accele BioPharma opens its doors in the next six months, it will be home to one young company developing immunotherapy products and another developing technology to get better performance out of existing drugs. Mr. Duncan declined to name them, as they haven’t officially launched.

The accelerator–which will offer space, funding and management of companies–will be at full capacity when four companies have been admitted. The program is meant to be small, because the directors of the program will have a hands-on role in the management of each company launched there.

Mr. Duncan said Accele BioPharma will be looking to fund companies through their Series A rounds of $5 million to $10 million, and at that point attempt to link the companies to syndicates of outside investors. The accelerator will continue to fund the companies even after other investors have jumped on board.

The accelerator is partnered with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, an independent research organization that employs more than 60 scientists and has helped to launch 13 companies over the years. The foundation will also offer office space and mentoring to newly formed companies.

In the late 1980s, Mr. Duncan served a one-year stint as an investor with InterSouth Partners . He left the firm to run drug-discovery company–and InterSouth portfolio holding–Sphinx Pharmaceuticals Inc. In 1992, Sphinx became the first North Carolina-based drug company to go public. It was later acquired by Eli Lilly & Co .

Mr. Duncan was also chief executive of muscular-dystrophy drug-maker Ercole Biotech Inc., and held the top post at Incara Pharmaceuticals Inc ., which developed drugs to treat gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular problems, an online resume said.

The accelerator program is the result of Mr. Duncan’s belief in investing in early-stage companies, though many see that strategy as a tougher road than backing late-stage companies.

“I’ve always made money on early-stage deals,” he said, “and have not always on later-stage deals. There’s a trend out there toward later-stage, but I think that’s wrong.”

Visit Accele BioPharma at http://accelebio.com.

Write to Timothy Hay at timothy.hay@dowjones.com