Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MediBeacon Founders Turn Corporate Setback into Thriving Startup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MediBeacon Founders Turn Corporate Setback into Thriving Startup

Article excerpt

When Covidien decided to spin off Hazelwood drug company Mallinckrodt in 2011, Rick Dorshow's optical-imaging research became something of an orphan.

Dorshow, a PhD physicist, worked for Mallinckrodt here, but his research had been supported by a respiratory-products division that Covidien was keeping. His project, even though it showed promise for diagnosing a wide variety of diseases, was a casualty of the reorganization.

Dorshow could have stayed at Mallinckrodt, but he believed in the optical project, which involved developing both a sensor and fluorescent imaging agents. He teamed with Steven Hanley, the former head of Covidien's imaging solutions business, in 2012 and formed a company called MediBeacon.

The initial step, licensing a handful of patents, wasn't easy. Big companies are picky about who does what with their intellectual property, and Hanley says the negotiations took about two years.

Meanwhile, he and Dorshow needed to raise money. BioGenerator, the investment arm of industry group BioSTL, had just gotten federal funding to help "de-risk" early-stage companies, and MediBeacon got the first grant under that program.

BioGenerator also invested in MediBeacon, as did the state-run Missouri Technology Corp. and St. Louis County's Helix Fund. The startup also used BioGenerator's lab space for a time before moving to the county's Helix Center in Creve Coeur, where it now employs 10 people.

The community's help was crucial when the co-founders were getting used to life outside the corporate cocoon. "We needed the infrastructure that BioGenerator had set up, and we tapped right into it," Dorshow said.

MediBeacon went on to raise more than $30 million in venture capital, enough to secure 32 patents and advance its first product toward commercialization. That product, a skin sensor that monitors kidney function, is about to go into a pivotal clinical trial in the U. …

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