With biotech wins, Harvard targets $20M-$30M for Accelerator

When discoveries from academic labs are developed into a blockbuster drug, universities often rake in big dollars from licensing revenue. With the translation of its life sciences research into commercial applications in mind, Harvard aims to put more financial muscle behind its 4-year-old Accelerator Fund, Xconomy's Greg Huang reports.

Huang got the scoop on Harvard's plans to raise $20 million to $30 million for the fund from the two bigwigs behind the effort: tech transfer legend Isaac Kohlberg, who serves as the Ivy League school's tech development head and senior associate provost, and Curtis Keith, the scientific chief of the Accelerator Fund and a co-founder of drug developer CombinatoRx (now called Zalicus). Kohlberg says the 5-year goal of the program is to have up to two drugs stemming from Harvard research enter clinical trials and for a start-up advancing Harvard technology to be in talks with a potential buyer.

Biotech watchers should keep an eye on Harvard's Accelerator. Huang points to some of the program's successes so far, including research of drug compound fluorination technology that led to the creation of upstart SciFluor Life Sciences, which said it nailed down $5 million in venture funding from Allied Minds in May. And a trio of Harvard researchers--Dan Finley, Randall King and Alfred Goldberg--discovered compounds that have been licensed to Cambridge, MA-based developer Proteostasis. Harvard's tech development office helped broker the deal, and Proteostasis is collaborating with pharma firm Elan on advancing its drug technology against neurodegenerative diseases.

This progress has come since the Accelerator program launched with just $10 million in initial funding, according to the Xconomy piece. Clearly, Kolhberg and Keith see enough evidence that the program's model works to expand its financial reach. We'll see whether potential investors in the program's proposed new fund agree.

- check out Huang's article