Well, the good news keeps on coming for early-stage Pittsburgh companies…. I guess someone forgot to tell these entrepreneurs to take a summer vacation.
The latest in what is shaping up to be a great season for Pittsburgh deals is Knopp Neurosciences‘ blockbuster announcement this morning that it has signed a $345 Million strategic deal with Biogen Idec, whereby Biogen Idec will pay up to $285 Million to license and commercialize Knopp’s drug for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and will also make an additional $60 Million equity investment in Knopp to allow the company to expand its operations and develop other neuroscience-related drugs.
This deal is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, because it means we might be one step closer to a cure for ALS, a progressive (and ultimately fatal) neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Second, it is one of the largest pharmaceutical deals in the United States during 2010 to date. Third, on a local level, it is the first major new drug developed in Pittsburgh in a long time — possibly since Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine 50 years ago at Pitt. And fourth, it is a great accomplishment for the team at Knopp, as well as for LaunchCyte, which created Knopp in 2004. Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in Knopp’s success to date.
And in case you haven’t been following the local deal activity this summer, here’s a recap of what’s happened since June (my apologies if I’m missing anything):
- June 17: Precision Therapeutics* closed on $35 Million, in a deal led by Bain Capital Ventures
- June 30: ModCloth* closed on $19.8 Million from Accel Ventures, First Round Capital and Floodgate
- August 2: Hybrid Learning Systems acquired the games developed by ImpactGames*
- August 4: LinkedIn made its first acquisition ever, acquiring Pittsburgh-based mSpoke*
- August 6: Avere Systems closed on $17 Million from Tenaya Capital, Menlo Ventures and Norwest Partners
- August 10: Ciespace* closed on $4 million, led by ARCH Venture Partners
- August 18: Knopp Neurosciences* signed a strategic deal with Biogen Idec valued at $345 Million
And the summer isn’t over yet…..stay tuned.
*Full Disclosure: All of the companies above with an asterisk are portfolio companies of Innovation Works, where I’m the Chief Investment Officer. Also, the founder and CEO of Avere Systems, Ron Bianchini, is Innovation Works’ Chairman.