Camden Partners' early-stage venture fund makes final close - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Dec. 21, 2017 12:29 pm

Camden Partners’ early-stage venture fund makes final close

Leaders seeking to commercialize more research often cite a need for more early-stage funding. The Nexus Fund is focused on biomedical startups that were born at institutions in Maryland.
Nexus Fund team (L to R): David Oros, Shamita Etienne-Cummings, Dr. Justin Hanes, Dr. Jacob Vogelstein, George Petrocheilos, David Warnock, Aris Melissaratos, Dr. Bert Vogelstein, Dr. Youseph Yazdi, Dr. Adam Riess, Jennifer Elisseeff, Dr. Henry Brem.

Nexus Fund team (L to R): David Oros, Shamita Etienne-Cummings, Dr. Justin Hanes, Dr. Jacob Vogelstein, George Petrocheilos, David Warnock, Aris Melissaratos, Dr. Bert Vogelstein, Dr. Youseph Yazdi, Dr. Adam Riess, Jennifer Elisseeff, Dr. Henry Brem.

(Photo by Mark L. Dennis/Courtesy Camden Partners)

Camden Partners announced the final close of its venture capital fund that is seeking to invest in startups that originated at Maryland’s research institutions.

The Camden Partners Nexus Fund is focusing on supporting early stage startups commercializing biomedical technology coming from research institutions like Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, according to a press release.

A lack of early stage funding is frequently cited as a barrier for startups looking bring research out of the lab and into the market, so the appearance of a Baltimore-based fund is notable for the tech-transfer community. For Inner Harbor–based Camden Partners, it marks the first foray into an early stage venture capital fund for a firm that normally focuses on later-stage deals.

The fund launched in 2016, and was cofounded by R. Jacob Vogelstein and George Petrocheilos, who are working on the fund within Camden Partners. Joining as cofounders were Camden’s senior partner David Warnock and entrepreneur David Oros. The name has since changed from the Exelixis Fund to the Nexus Fund.

The fund also assembled an advisory board made up of Maryland experts to assist in sourcing deals and with technical due diligence. Among the members are Nobel Prize–winning astrophysicist Adam Riess, Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Harry Brem, Nova Pharma cofounder Solomon Snyder and Geoff Ling, the former director of DARPA’s biomedical technologies office.

A dollar amount of the final close was not disclosed, but the release states investments came from a mix of investors and family offices. Nexus is looking to invest between $500,000 and $2.5 million per deal over about 10–12 deals, according to Camden Partners.

The fund currently has investments in six companies, according to Camden. Among them is Sisu Global Health, a medical device startup whose founders relocated to Baltimore from Michigan, and is expanding sales of its blood autotransfusion device in Africa. Canton-based Personal Genome Diagnostics, a Johns Hopkins spinout, also received investment, as well as University of Maryland BioPark–based eNeura, which makes a device to treat migraines. Additional investments include Ashvattha Therapeutics, Oprheris and Cage Pharmaceuticals, which is developing new drugs targeting the growth of tumors.

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