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BioLOGIC Expands NKY Lab

Making a mark

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Here’s a sampling of bioLOGIC’s startups:

  • Bexion Pharmaceuticals LLC: Focuses on development and commercialization of innovative cures for cancer.
  • Kao: Manufactures premium beauty care brands.
  • PRIMEdp: Collaborates with inventors, investors and companies to accelerate drug and cosmetic projects through development, regulatory approval and commercialization.
  • Surgical Energetics: Develops surgical products to heal difficult wounds that are not well served by ordinary fasteners such as sutures and staples.

BioLOGIC, the Covington-based life science accelerator, is literally about to experience vertical integration.

The organization expects to open laboratory space in February on the second floor of its Russell Street location. BioLOGIC’s portfolio of 19 companies, as well as future startups, will have access to the 2,000 square feet of lab space.

The lab will include microscopes, cell counters, liquid nitrogen storage and other resources that are cost-prohibitive for startups to purchase themselves. BioLOGIC’s first-floor lab is full.

The resource is a critical element to helping existing companies grow, attracting more life-science companies to the area and securing additional public and private funding for startups, bioLOGIC managing director Keith Schneider said.

The lab is the centerpiece of the 7,500-square-foot second-floor expansion, which will be ringed by open-air office space for bioLOGIC’s tenants. Bexion Pharmaceuticals LLC chief executive officer Ray Takigiku and chairman Chuck Scheper also will have offices upstairs.

Schneider, who joined bioLOGIC in November 2011, said the expansion will create an environment for both planned and unplanned collaboration among tenants.

“It just adds to the creative environment to have a mix of people with a startup mentality in the same spot, so there will be lab people, developers, designers, all kinds of folks up there,” he said. The lab is being funded largely by bioLOGIC’s owner, SIDIS Corp, a global technology and investment management group that also has business operations in Fort Collins, Colo., and Shanghai. Nigel Ferrey is CEO of SIDIS Corp and bioLOGIC.

The Duke Energy Foundation also awarded bioLOGIC a $100,000 grant from its Urban Revitalization Pilot Program to help finance the lab. The Haile U.S. Bank Foundation and R.C. Durr Foundation also are key supporters of a life science and innovation corridor in Covington, which is being led by bioLOGIC. Ferrey and Takigiku formed bioLOGIC in 2007 in Cincinnati as a business and technical consulting firm for companies that were part of the now-defunct life sciences incubator BioStart, as well as outside companies.

BioLOGIC eventually expanded beyond a consulting firm to a for-profit accelerator. It moved to Northern Kentucky in 2008.

Its focus is on emerging companies looking to commercialize life- science technologies including instrumentation, medical devices, diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.

Charlie LeCroix, a former Procter & Gamble executive who ran bioLOGIC before Schneider’s arrival, is SIDIS’ chief operating officer.

He said SIDIS views bioSTART as a potential feeder, and that SIDIS has made investments in several of bioLOGIC’s startups.

“We look under the hood, we kick the tires, and we get to see the company and technology at an early stage,” LeCroix said.

Schneider, who is also a professor of entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University, joined bioLOGIC after spending four years at the Northern Kentucky ezone, where he gained key experience in areas including funding procurement.

Schneider said bioLOGIC has helped secure nearly $2 million in state matches for companies that receive funding from the federal Small Business Innovation Research program. The state also pays $4,000 to offset the cost of applying for SBIR funds.

As bioLOGIC grows, Schneider says the accelerator may have to adopt a more formal application process. Currently, it offers essentially rolling admission for startups, some of which may only need a mailing address, administrative support and meeting space.

The new lab should only strengthen bioLOGIC’s niche in the region’s startup ecosystem, where Schneider says there is growing collaboration among accelerators and incubators to maximize their combined impact.

“ The conversations are taking place all over the region, and they’re going in the right direction,” he said.