Chester County gets $4-million fund to boost startup activity

Written by Roberto Torres, Philly

Venture Chesco is a team effort from the Chester County Retirement Board and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Access to capital is among the hardest boxes to check for local entrepreneurs following the venture-backed playbook.

And for Chester County’s tech ecosystem — despite being a key node of Philly’s tech growth in the 1980s and housing VC firms like Safeguard Scientifics and a bevy of large pharma firms — access to sufficient venture capital has proven to be a challenge.

Per Chester County Economic Development Council COO Michael Grigalonis, some 100 startups have received grants through the i2n-Ideas x Innovation Network initiative, but more fuel is needed.

Enter Ventures Chesco, a $4-million partnership between the Chester County Retirement Board and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania seeking to provide early-stage funding to companies housed in — or willing to relocate to — the county.

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Postscript: Selling to the Enterprise

Cloud has been a blessing and a curse for enterprise selling.

The risk shift of managing infrastructure from the customer to the vendor can accelerate decision making, reduce the number of people who need to say “yes”, and generally simplify sales cycles. Customers love the ability to configure SaaS solutions to their needs instead of paying a system integrator to write a bunch of custom code. Enterprise customers also love not having to pay for seats and functionality that their organizations are not yet ready to use.

However, the ease of deployment can also lead customers to dabble with many solutions simultaneously and have you get stuck in “pilot purgatory”.

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Invitae Acquiring Good Start Genetics And CombiMatrix, Adding Comprehensive Reproductive Health Capabilities To Serve Every Stage of Life

San Francisco, CA, July 31, 2017 — Invitae Corporation (NYSE: NVTA), one of the fastest growing genetic information companies, today announced two acquisitions to establish a leading position in family health genetic information services. Invitae has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Good Start Genetics, a molecular diagnostics company focused on preimplantation and carrier screening for inherited disorders. Invitae also has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CombiMatrix (NASDAQ: CBMX), a company which specializes in prenatal diagnosis, miscarriage analysis and pediatric developmental disorders. The acquisitions will establish Invitae as a comprehensive provider of genetic information throughout every stage of life.

“This is a transformative moment for Invitae, for our industry, and—importantly—for patients. By acquiring Good Start and CombiMatrix, Invitae intends to create the industry’s first comprehensive genetic information platform providing high-quality, affordable genetic information coupled with world-class clinical expertise to inform healthcare decisions throughout every stage of an individual’s life,” said Sean George, chief executive officer of Invitae. “We believe the strength of our existing platform, strategic acquisitions like these and our network of partners will fuel continued growth and further establish Invitae as a leading genetic information service provider.”

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This MontCo medical devices firm raised a $19.3M Series C led by Safeguard

Written by Roberto Torres, Philly

To date, the company has raised $40.9 million.

King of Prussia-based Trice Medical announced today it closed a $19.3 million Series C round led by Safeguard Scientifics.

The round will go toward accelerating and expanding the company’s U.S. market reach for its flagship product, a handheld diagnostics tool called mi-eye, as well as research and development, sales, marketing and “key international regulatory approvals.”

To date, the company has racked up $40.9 million in ventur capital. Along with previous investors Safeguard and BioStar Ventures, U.K.-based medical company Smith & Nephew joined the list of investors.

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Q&A: Joe Proto, CEO, Transactis – On Overcoming Adversity

While the consequential decisions leading up to the economic crisis of the late 2000s and early 2010s were made well before September 29, 2008, the date remains a symbolic timestamp for the collapse of the financial markets.

That day Joe Proto watched in awe as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by a record -777.68 points. The downward spiral especially embattled banks – the very clients and prospects Joe was working with as chief executive officer of Transactis, a New York City-based e-bill payment and processing solution.

Less than a year into his tenure, Joe would have to utilize all of his available resources and entrepreneurial skills to avoid becoming collateral damage. Although it was an era of high uncertainty, Joe reassured clients and stabilized the business by relying on 25 years of prior experience.

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Phillymag: Ben Franklin Tech Partners Pumped $3.7M Into These 21 Philly-Area Startups Last Quarter

Tech investment powerhouse Ben Franklin Technology Partners released their third quarter investment plan this week and 21 early-stage companies got approved for investment. A total of $3.7 in funding has been approved, and eight companies in the physical sciences sector got approved for the biggest sum of investment. The eight companies will receive $1.4 million in total.

The group’s three other divisions – information technology, digital health, and health – each hold 5 or fewer companies.

The busy quarter can be partly attributed to the four-year digital health partnership between Ben Franklin, Independence Health Group and Safeguard Scientifics, that was launched back in December 2016. The partners pledged $2 million each to specifically fuel local, early-stage, digital health startups. Four companies listed below were approved for investment through the new fund.

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Innovating in a Crowded Marketplace for Healthcare Delivery

Every patient desires high-quality care at a cost-efficient price.  Studies have shown that these two characteristics are not always in conflict, as less-expensive sites may deliver similar quality care as more expensive sites.  But patients, and thus their providers, tend to prioritize quality over cost or vice versa. This is beginning to lead to a bifurcation among healthcare providers – those offering cost-effective care and easy access to treatment, and those offering cutting-edge, research-based medicine. Sustained merger activity and the constriction of operating budgets are exacerbating this divide.

Put another way, on one end, large academic medical centers, practicing cutting-edge medicine, can attract prestigious doctors and a bevy of resources. On the other, the democratization of healthcare at retail clinics and urgent care centers provides access to care on the nearest street corner.

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When Is a Unicorn Really Worth $1 Billion?

In an era of ambitious startup valuations, it’s important to remember how difficult it is to grow and sustain a viable ‘unicorn’ – a company with a billion-dollar price tag.

Today, there are 185 companies worth ten figures or more and, according to CB Insights, just 1.28% of all early-stage investments reach this milestone.[1] Last year, there was a significant drop in the number of venture-backed startups to climb to such heights.[2]

But what happens when a unicorn reaches that status and is unable to sustain itself?  How much is a billion dollar valuation really worth?  This isn’t a trick question.

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