Portal Innovations Hosts Spinning Out And Standing Up: Lessons From Academic Entrepreneurs In Atlanta, Georgia

Portal Innovations, a leading global venture development engine, hosted a ‘Spinning Out and Standing Up’ event on September 29 that brought together major biotech players to discuss the life science industry in Atlanta. Portal Innovations works to bridge the gap between scientific creativity and entrepreneurial realization. The VC provides seed capital, cutting-edge wet lab space, and seasoned management expertise to early-stage life sciences companies.

Over the past year of connecting with local institutions, startups, and talent, Portal Innovations has recognized that technological strengths in the innovation space encompass scientific areas that include anti-infectives, immuno-oncology, neuroscience, gene and cell therapy, and med tech devices. At the September 29 event, titled, ‘Spinning Out and Standing Up: Lessons from Academic Entrepreneurs in Atlanta, Georgia,’ Atlanta’s biotech experts had a lively panel discussion centered around the local pathways from the lab to a startup with four serial entrepreneurs. Thermo Fisher Scientific sponsored the event.

The discussion featured:

  • Louise Hecker, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Emory University
  • Edmund (Ned) K. Waller, Rein Saral, MD Professorship in Cancer Medicine; Professor, Departments of Medicine, Pathology, and Hematology and Medical Oncology; Interim Associate Director of Clinical Research, Winship Cancer Institute; and Medical Director, Center for Stem Cell Processing and Apheresis, Emory University and Emory University Hospital
  • Omer Inan, Elected Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; Co-founder, Board Member, and Scientific Advisor, Arthroba; Co-founder, Board Member, Chief Scientific Officer, Cardiosense, and Professor; Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • John Flavin, Founder, and President, Portal Innovations; Co-Founder and Chairman, Pyxis Oncology; Executive Chairman, ClostraBio; Board Member, Grove Biopharma

This panel covered topics such as:

  • How to build a founding team and garner the support to establish a viable startup
  • Raising outside capital
  • Opportunities and challenges to growing a biotech company in Atlanta
  • Personal stories from experienced serial entrepreneurs
  • Common hurdles in taking a university technology successfully into a startup

Investing in Atlanta, Portal Innovations recognizes the growth opportunity for Atlanta’s biotech and life science ecosystem—especially due to great founders and teams as those featured in this panel. They demonstrate how unique an environment Atlanta presents, supported by institutional knowledge, the inclusion of diverse technical talent, and deep strengths in biotech and biomedical research. Atlanta has consistently been home to local powerhouse academic research institutions, such as Georgia Tech, Emory, etc. that are consistently named as Nature’s top global biomedical science institutions, with each receiving up to $500 Million in NIH funding each year. Georgia Tech has recently been named one of 21 universities, and the only one without a medical school, to spend over $1B in research expenditures annually. In terms of talent, the metro area also claims the top spot for the growth rate (90% growth experienced between 2015 and 2019) of technology graduates produced, situating Atlanta as the seventh-highest hub for conferring technology-related degrees. The region also ranks supreme as a city with culturally and ethnically diverse representation in technology fields–Atlanta ranks as a top US city for both ethnically underrepresented talent (#1) and women (#3) in technology. These are key drivers for enabling unique biomedical and healthcare solutions impacting greater patient populations.

Portal’s goal in Atlanta is to support the translation of these technologies from the lab bench into commercial products. Portal will also focus on connecting and catalyzing the life sciences ecosystem to create the infrastructure needed to support early-stage companies and allow them to grow and scale locally. Portal will have the ability to do this with the help of Science Square, opening in April 2024.

Science Square is an 18-acre master-planned district connected to Georgia Tech’s campus offering premier commercial lab/R&D and residential developments and is being reactivated as a regional and global hub of bioscience and life science that will draw research and investment from academia and private industry regionally and nationally.  Portal Innovations will be located in Science Square Labs – the first commercial speculative lab/office tower within Science Square which is currently under construction. Trammell Crow Company (TCC), a global commercial real estate developer, is working together with Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures (GATV), a cooperative organization of the Georgia Institute of Technology, to create Atlanta’s new home for life science innovation, Science Square.

About Portal Innovations
Portal Innovations is a venture development engine that invests crafted capital to fuel seed-stage life sciences companies. Portal provides cash, a fully equipped wet lab, and office space, and management expertise to turn breakthroughs into businesses.