Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicklaus: Biotech Startup Canopy Charts Quick Path to Revenue

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicklaus: Biotech Startup Canopy Charts Quick Path to Revenue

Article excerpt

The rap on St. Louis' biotech industry is that all of its startups are years away from selling products, with no big success stories yet.

Don't tell that to Ed Weinstein, co-founder and chief executive of Canopy Biosciences. Canopy is launching its first product just months after being founded, and it expects to quickly achieve profitability. Moreover, Weinstein has already achieved the kind of lucrative exit that's rare in St. Louis.

The exit was Sage Labs, which provided genetically modified rats and other animals to medical researchers. It was spun out of Sigma-Aldrich in 2013 and sold to a British company 18 months later for $48 million.

David Smoller, Sage's CEO, and Weinstein, its president, joined the BioGenerator, a St. Louis entity that nurtures and invests in fledgling life-sciences companies, as entrepreneurs in residence. Their goal was to find research-tools businesses that, like Sage, could make money quickly.

They found plenty of interesting technologies, but no single one big enough to build a company around. By last fall, they hit on a strategy: License enough promising products and they could build a miniature version of Sigma-Aldrich, the research-chemicals powerhouse that's now part of Millipore Sigma.

"There were a lot of interesting things out there in the research space, and if we brought them together we thought we could make something out of it," explained Crystal Winkeler, a former BioGenerator staffer who is Canopy's co-founder and chief operating officer. "There was an interesting enough pipeline out there to raise capital around."

Charlie Bolten, a BioGenerator vice president, said Canopy flipped the usual St. Louis model on its head. Instead of starting with a promising drug or other technology and raising money to hire a team, Canopy started with an experienced team and raised money to license technologies. …

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