Animal health startups endure ‘Shark Tank’ treatment at Midwest investment forum

two farmers feeding cows
Mazen, which won the innovation prize at the KC Animal Health Investment Forum, is developing animal vaccines for ease of use.

At the eighth annual Kansas City Animal Health Corridor Investment Forum, held August 30 in Kansas City, 17 startups presented their plans to investors, in the hopes of raising anywhere from $500,000 to $20 million in funding. Just how successful they’ll be after the Shark Tank-like event remains to be seen, but one company did win $10,000 on the spot: Missouri-based Mazen Animal Health, which was awarded the 2016 Innovation Award.

Mazen, which is based in a science incubator at Missouri Western State University, is developing a technology platform for formulating oral vaccines for both pets and production animals. The vaccines won’t require refrigeration, making them less costly than traditional injectable vaccines, Mazen CEO Jenny Filbey told judges during the 15 minutes she was allocated to pitch the company to a panel of animal health executives and funders.

The other companies featured at the event came from around the world and are working on a range of products for pets and production animals. They included Mileutis, an Israeli company working on a treatment for mastitis in dairy cows, Oklahoma-based Plasma Bionics, which has a device that can rapidly sterilize veterinary equipment at room temperature, and NellOne Therapeutics of Tennessee, which is developing a new way to treat soft tissue wounds in animals.

Nearly 300 companies have participated in the KC Animal Health Corridor Investment Forum, raising over $170 million, according to a press release from the organization. Some are now publicly traded and advancing their products, most notably Jaguar Animal Health ($JAGX) and Nexvet ($NVET). Others have announced recent successes, including VetDC, a Colorado State University spinoff that is applying to the FDA for approval of a canine lymphoma drug.

"By supporting emerging companies, entrepreneurs and technologies, the Investment Forum furthers the KC Animal Health Corridor’s mission to become a global center for animal health innovation,” said Kimberly Young, KC Animal Health Corridor president, in the press release.

The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor is home to more than 300 companies that account for 56% of the industry’s global revenues, according to Young. The investment forum capped off Global Animal Health Week in Kansas City, which draws industry leaders from around the world.

- here’s the press release
- read more at St. Joseph News-Press

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