Stem cell pioneer Cellular Dynamics joins IPO rush with $57M offering

Cellular Dynamics International has joined the growing queue of biotech companies looking to jump through the wide-open IPO window. Founded by famed stem-cell pioneer James Thomson, the company markets stem cell lines for use in drug R&D.

The biotech is looking to raise about $57 million in its IPO, with a plan to trade on Nasdaq as "ICEL." It has some revenue, but like a lot of biotechs it is largely awash in red ink. Its SEC filing spells out that the company earned a little more than $5 million in product sales last year, against $14 million in R&D costs and total expenses of about $29 million.

"The global human stem cell, tissue and organ therapy market was $5.0 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to $21.4 billion in 2020," the company stated. "Our cellular reprogramming technologies, intellectual property portfolio and manufacturing capabilities position us to support our customers who are seeking to design, develop and manufacture cell-based therapeutics, first as a provider of cells for research, then as a provider of cells for therapeutic trials and potentially for therapeutic use on a collaborative basis."

After a painful 5-year drought in IPOs, the window for new offerings for biotech companies has finally creaked open. A variety of developers have gone public in the last few months, with a few doing exceptionally well and a few stumbling badly. Still, it's a much, much better market than we've seen since the financial crisis spurred investors to flee high-risk offerings. And you can expect to see many more in the months ahead--provided investors keep their new-found appetite for biotech.

- here's the S-1
- read the story from the Business Journal of Milwaukee