Spark Therapeutics goes public - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 30, 2015 2:22 pm

Spark Therapeutics goes public

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, whose research the company is based on, owns more than half of the company's shares.
University City Science Center’s 3737 Market Street building.

University City Science Center's 3737 Market Street building.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Spark Therapeutics went public on NASDAQ today, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one big winner.

The startup, based on a decade’s worth of research at CHOP, raised $161 million with its initial public offering, pricing 7 million shares at $23 each. But then, the share price ballooned to $43, raising the company’s value to nearly $1 billion, according to an Inquirer report. That made the 4.9 million shares owned by CHOP — that’s 53.44 percent of the Spark shares — worth as much as $220 million. (Obviously, this could fluctuate.) CHOP committed $50 million in the fall of 2013 when the company was formed. CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler is chairman of Spark’s board.

Spark Therapeutics is a pre-revenue company that aims to cure rare genetic diseases like types of hemophilia and blindness. Its ticker symbol is “ONCE,” referring to the company’s aim of curing, not just treating, these diseases, the Inquirer reported.

Spark raised a $72.8 million Series B led by Silicon Valley investors Sofinnova Ventures last year, and its 50 employees work out of a 28,000-square-foot office at the University City Science Center’s new 3737 Market Street building.

“Our foundation as a company has been born of the work done in West Philadelphia,” CEO Jeff Marrazzo said last fall at the 3737 Market Street ribbon-cutting. “We want to be an example of a company that can not only have its past here but also its future.”

Marrazzo (the son of WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo) owns 380,000 shares of the company, now worth around $16 million, the Inquirer reported.

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Spark’s IPO came on the same day as Shake Shack’s, but it garnered much less media attention, despite raising more money and being potentially more world-changing, Fortune noted.

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