Animal health entrepreneurs pitch investors at well-attended KC forum

Courtesy of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor

From obesity prevention to pathogen detection, a range of technologies were on display Sept. 1 at the Kansas City Animal Health Investment Forum. The daylong event featured 17 companies from all over the world, whose executives descended on the heart of the Animal Health Corridor to present their inventions to potential financiers at an investment forum.

The forum attracted a record crowd of 400, Kimberly Young, president of the KC Animal Health Corridor, told FierceAnimalHealth. "This year we had 47 investment groups in attendance--the most we've ever had," Young said. "It was a fantastic event."

The KC Animal Health corridor is an area that extends from Columbia, MO, to Manhattan, KS, and is home to more than 300 companies, many of which attend the forum in the hopes of spotting new technologies to acquire or getting to know other animal health players that might be future partners, Young said.

The investment forum featured a wide variety of products for both companion and farm animals. FreeStride Therapeutics of Northville, MI, for example, discussed its treatment for joint diseases in horses, dogs and cats, while LMI-Vet of Freehold, NJ, presented a fluid-replacement system for veterinarians. Australia-born Integrated Animal Health, which in April announced its intentions to move to the Animal Health Corridor, spotlighted its development of therapies for companion and production animals.

All of the companies made 10-minute presentations that were judged by a panel, which chose one for its Innovation Award: Magnomics of Portugal. Magnomics is developing portable nanotechnology-based diagnostic devices for identifying bacterial pathogens. The award came with a $2,500 check.

For VetStem Biopharma, a California company that was a repeat presenter at this year's investment forum, the event marked an opportunity to seek out "R&D acceleration funding," said Chief Executive Officer Robert Harman in a press release. The company's lead product, which employs stem cells to treat osteoarthritis in dogs, is partnered with Aratana Therapeutics ($PETX) for development in the U.S.

All told, the companies presenting at the event are seeking between a half-million and $20 million in funding, according to data provided by the Animal Health Corridor. Companies that have presented at the forum in previous years have done well, raising more than $160 million and nabbing a variety of licensing agreements and distribution contracts. Alumni include Prommune, Traverse Biosciences, and Jaguar Animal Health ($JAGX), which went public earlier this year.

The companies based in the Animal Health Corridor generate 56% of the world's total animal health revenues, according to Young. The corridor also celebrated its 10th anniversary during the event.

Young believes the investment forum is vital to propelling the growth of the region. "We want the Kansas City Animal Health corridor to be seen as really the epicenter of animal health, and a thought leader for driving innovation into the industry," she said. "We know that when we can get companies to participate in our event, and they see what we have here, Kansas City will be on their list when they are ready to establish operations."

- access a list of the presenting entrepreneurs here
- here's VetStem's press release
- read more at the Kansas City Business Journal
- get the Kansas City Star's take