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September 07, 2012

Abell Foundation pumps $580K into two local companies

Abell Foundation pumps $580K into two local companies

Baltimore Business Journal

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Two area startups — one specializing in sterilizing medical equipment and another that has developed an online teacher’s aide — are the latest beneficiaries of a foundation established to bolster the local economy and promote social entrepreneurship.

The Abell Foundation is making a $500,000 investment in Noxilizer Inc., and in August it invested $80,000 in Common Curriculum. Foundation President Robert C. Embry Jr. said these investments reflect Abell’s mission of backing companies based in Baltimore — or which are willing to relocate here — that create jobs and produce socially worthwhile products and services.

The Abell Foundation — one of Baltimore’s best-known philanthropic groups, and one that traces its roots back to the 1950s — invests about 15 percent of its $320 million endowment, or roughly $48 million, in early-stage companies like Noxilizer. It currently has investments in about 15 companies, Embry said. That is in addition to the approximately $16 million in charitable grants the foundation gives out each year.

The program’s focus is on companies that do things like improve education or health, benefit the environment or develop renewable energy sources.

“We don’t invest in restaurants, or a new clothing line or computer apps,” Embry said.

Some of the other companies in which Abell currently has investments include:

  • BioMarker Strategies, which is developing a process for testing tumor samples at the point of biopsy. The company is based at the Johns Hopkins Science + Technology Park.
  • CeraTech Inc., a Baltimore company that has developed a form of cement made from recycled materials.
  • Pixelligent Technologies, a Baltimore nanotech company whose products are used in the solar power and electronics industries.

The foundation’s investments have typically ranged in size from $75,000 to $2.5 million.

Embry is emphatic that these are not charitable donations. In addition to creating jobs, the foundation expects its investments will yield a profit, Embry estimates the companies the foundation has invested in since 1995 have created more than 1,000 jobs.

?We have made more money from those investments than we have from our traditional investments,? Embry said, without providing specific returns. In exchange for its investment, Abell gets a stake in the company. Sometimes, its investment is in the form of a loan that is convertible into equity in the company.

Two of the companies Abell invested in — Guilford Pharmaceuticals and Visicue Inc., a maker of patient-monitoring systems for hospitals — have gone public.

The foundation’s investment in Noxilizer will help the 8-year-old company boost the size of its workforce and enter the market for sterilizing medical equipment for hospitals. Currently, Noxilizer targets pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers as customers.

Noxilizer plans to move from the technology park at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County into about 12,000 square feet of office and laboratory space at the University of Maryland Baltimore’s BioPark on the city’s west side. The move could come as early as the end of 2012, said Lawrence Bruder, Noxilizer’s CEO.

The company has 17 employees. Bruder is looking to hire at least five more people and grow the company to 50 in the next three years.

?We see it as quite an honor and an affirmation of our credibility,? Bruder said of Abell?s investment. ?We have had other people coming to us because they heard about Abell?s investment to see if they can participate.?

Common Curriculum is a Baltimore company founded three years ago by two former Baltimore City teachers. The company has developed a tool for teachers to write their lesson plans online and share them with students, parents and other teachers.

?We see [improving education] as a social good, and they?re located here in Baltimore,? Embry said.

Abell’s investment, coupled with an investment by Bill Me Later co-founder Vincent Talbert, will help Common Curriculum hire software developers and market its product, said Scott Messinger, a Common Curriculum co-founder.

Messinger launched the company three years ago with business partner Robbie Earle. The company has lined up about 150 teachers to test its product and hopes to roll it out to paying customers by the 2013-2014 school year, Messinger said. Bill Me Later was bought by online auction giant ebay in 2008 for about $1 billion.

Messinger declined to specify the size of Talbert’s investment, but Embry put the figure at $80,000.

Noxilizer’s David Opie, Ph.D. to present at three industry conferences in Spring 2012

(Baltimore, MD – March 11, 2012) David Opie, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research & Development, has been invited to address three important industry conferences this spring:

Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) Annual Meeting, April 16 – 18, 2012 in Phoenix, AZ. David will be speaking, as well as presenting a scientific poster. Noxilizer will also have an exhibit booth at the conference.

Third Annual Pre-Filled Syringes Americas Meeting, May 14 – 16, 2012 in Boston, MA. David will be speaking at this meeting, along with representatives from: Pfizer, Genentech, Eli Lilly and Company and BD Medical – Pharmaceutical Systems.

2012 PDA Innovation & Best Practices on Sterile Technology Conference, June 18 – 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL. The theme of the conference is “Sterile Processes: Product Development.” David’s presentation is titled, “Nitrogen Dioxide as a Replacement for Ethylene Oxide for Medical Device Sterilization.”

About PDA:
Founded in 1946, PDA is a non-profit international association of more than 10,500 scientists involved in the development, manufacture, quality control and regulation of pharmaceuticals and related products. The association also provides educational opportunities for government and university sectors that have a vocational interest in pharmaceutical sciences and technology. The mission of PDA is to advance pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical technology internationally by promoting scientifically sound and practical technical information and education for industry and regulatory agencies.

Sterilization Technology Group, Inc. (STG) Announces Next Generation Decontamination Technology and Generators for Use With Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Manufacturing and Sterility Testing

(Cary, NC – February 3, 2012) Sterilization Technology Group, Inc. (STG) announced today plans to develop products for the decontamination of isolators, such as sterility testing enclosures and enclosed filling lines for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. STG plans to manufacture both stand alone and integrated generator packages for this purpose along with supplying full validation services for its clients. STG has secured exclusive rights to use the proprietary and patented Noxilizer NO2 gas technology. STG is responsible for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the decontamination generator.

Isolators and other related enclosures are an important part of any life science company’s manufacturing, Quality Control and R&D processes. The sealed areas are used to produce and/or test products in a decontaminated “germ-free” environment. Examples of typical product containers include: prefilled syringes and vials. Sterilant generators were developed in the late 1980’s to provide for a more effective and validatable decontamination process. Today, the majority of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies utilize technologies based on vaporizing hydrogen peroxide. The NO2 gas technology has been shown to dramatically reduce aeration time by as much as 85% when compared to the older vapor hydrogen peroxide technology while maintaining the necessary standards in the industry with regard to microbial kill and materials compatibility.

STG was founded by three (3) industry veterans who were instrumental in the initial launch of the original vaporized hydrogen peroxide generator.

“As 25-year veterans of this industry, we see real advantages the Noxilizer technology has over current process options. We believe customers will not only value the faster aeration times, but are currently looking for a process that is compatible with today’s advanced protein based drugs and biological products”, states Michael Ferguson, Business Director and a founder of STG. “With the industry experience of William (Bill) Little, Technical Director, and James Rickloff, Scientific Director, also founders, STG has the experience and knowledge to bring a ‘best in class’ product to market”.

“This licensing agreement further validates Noxilizer’s technology and its importance in solving challenges of infection control and decontamination in the life science industry. The Noxilizer team is excited to work with STG as we grow our business in the important isolator market,” says Lawrence Bruder, President & CEO of Noxilizer, Inc.

About Sterilization Technology Group, Inc. (STG)

STG was formed in 2006 to develop and market a superior method for decontamination of sealed enclosures for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets. The founders of STG have over 70 years of combined experience in developing novel technologies and in the validation of processes for FDA compliance in this industry. STG is designing and developing products that will surpass all current technologies with regard to aeration and cycle times without sacrificing microbiological kill rates or materials compatibility. STG feels the industry is looking for the “next generation” product to replace existing technologies that have not changed in over 20 years. STG is located in Cary, North Carolina with manufacturing capabilities in Wisconsin.

About Noxilizer, Inc.

Noxilizer has developed a unique and superior NO2-based sterilization technology that will revolutionize two major sterilization markets — life science manufacturing and hospitals. In the life science market, Noxilizer provides sterilization services for next generation medical devices and drug/device combination products. Noxilizer also sells the RTS 360 NO2 Industrial Sterilizer to life science companies. In hospitals, Noxilizer is developing a system especially for the sensitive, high-tech equipment increasingly used in minimally-invasive surgical procedures. The company was founded in 2004 and is privately held. Noxilizer is located at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Technology Center in Baltimore, MD.

Media Contact:

Michael Ferguson, Director Business Operations
Sterilization Technology Group, Inc.
(919) 649-0078