Biogen Idec Announces First Startup in Its Innovation Incubator

Biogen Idec Announces First Startup in Its Innovation Incubator

Initiative Designed to Contribute to Productivity of Early-Stage Pipeline First Project Leverages Original Finding by Columbia University Medical Center Geneticist

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Biogen Idec today announced the first occupant in its Biogen Idec Innovation Incubator (bi3). Bi3 is a corporate initiative designed to contribute to the company’s drug development pipeline by offering entrepreneurial scientists the opportunity to rapidly convert novel biological insights into life-saving and life-changing therapies.

The company, Escoublac, is based on the discovery of a new link between bone biology and metabolism by Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Genetics & Development at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Dr. Karsenty, in addition to his position at CUMC, will be key scientific advisor at Escoublac. His goal in building the company is to explore whether the discovery can be translated into new treatments for metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Escoublac’s research focus will build upon Dr. Karsenty’s discoveries that the hormone osteocalcin is involved in regulating insulin and fat storage in the body.

“We’re very pleased to be embarking upon this venture with Biogen Idec,” said Dr. Karsenty. “What appealed to me about bi3 was the access to Biogen Idec’s scientists. The ability to tap into their drug discovery and development expertise increases our collective chances of turning a promising discovery into therapies that actually help patients.”

Biogen Idec began reviewing candidates earlier this year for bi3. The innovation incubator is designed to put scientific founders in the best position to successfully demonstrate the therapeutic potential of a drug candidate and realize significant economic benefits within timelines as short as two to three years. The incubator provides founders with access to three critical resources necessary to building a company and advancing a scientific discovery from the lab bench to a patient’s bedside:

Funding: bi3 supplies the financial resources necessary to convert "drug prototypes" into development candidates that can quickly enter the clinic.
Facility: bi3 offers state-of-the-art laboratory space, office space and shared equipment in an access-controlled environment adjacent to Biogen Idec's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Focus: bi3 offers entrepreneurs the ability to focus on the science by providing access to Biogen Idec's drug discovery expertise, scientific services and world-class technology, as well as all the business and administrative support required to manage day-to-day company operations.
“It’s this combination of components that makes the bi3 model quite unique,” said Rainer Fuchs, PhD, Biogen Idec vice president and executive director of bi3. “For each company’s founder, it’s an opportunity to advance the science beyond what the academic environment allows. For us, it’s an opportunity to get involved in innovative and exciting science that complements our internal R&D efforts and potentially adds product candidates to our pipeline.”

Bi3 supports entrepreneurs working to translate innovative biology into a product candidate with disease-modifying potential. Research programs should be advanced enough that they have the potential to generate product candidates and transition them into development in two to three years.

About Escoublac

Escoublac was founded based on the discovery that osteocalcin, a protein found in bone and dentin, plays a role in energy metabolism and related disorders. The research findings, published in the August issue of peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell, showed that osteocalcin encouraged weight loss, increased the production of insulin-generating beta cells as well as insulin, and improved sensitivity to insulin. The company aims to transform this discovery into new therapies for metabolic disorders and related conditions, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

About the Biogen Idec Innovation Incubator (bi3)

Bi3 offers the opportunity for entrepreneurial scientists to rapidly convert novel biological insights into life-saving and life-changing therapeutics. Bi3’s unique model blends the best of a startup's energy, a venture firm's capital and a fully-integrated biotech's resources to maximize the chances of scientific, clinical and financial success. For additional information about the Biogen Idec Innovation Incubator, please visit

About Biogen Idec

Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is a global leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative therapies. Patients in more than 90 countries benefit from Biogen Idec's significant products that address diseases such as lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

About Columbia University Medical Center

A leading academic and research university, Columbia continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the country's fifth oldest institution of higher learning. Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center comprises the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University's technology transfer office, Science & Technology Ventures, specializes in technology commercialization via licensing and new company formation. It facilitates the transfer of scientific discovery and innovation from the university setting into the marketplace. For more information on STV, please visit

Safe Harbor

This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding the business arrangements and agreements with Escoublac and the discovery and development of new therapies for metabolic disorders. These statements are based on the companies’ current beliefs and expectations. Drug development involves a high degree of risk. Only a small number of research and development programs result in commercialization of a product.

Factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from the companies’ current expectations include the risk that the companies may not be able to translate their discoveries into new therapies; the companies may not be able to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of any such new therapies at each stage of the clinical trial process; technical difficulties relating to the manufacture of such new therapies may be encountered; the incubator companies or Biogen Idec may not be able to meet applicable regulatory standards or regulatory authorities may fail to approve such new therapies; and the companies may encounter other unexpected hurdles.

For more detailed information on the risks and uncertainties associated with Biogen Idec's drug development and other activities, see Item 1A entitled "Risk Factors" in Biogen Idec's quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2007, that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 23, 2007, as well as other periodic and current reports of Biogen Idec filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Biogen Idec assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.