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Missouri Technology Corporation makes investments in St. Louis startups through its TechLaunch Program

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) today announced investments in two St. Louis-based start-up companies through its TechLaunch program. MTC made a $45,000 investment in an optical diagnostics start-up, MediBeacon LLC, and an investment of up to $60,000 in an animal health start-up, Companion Pharma, Inc. Each start-up company will use the funding to develop prototypes and commercialize patents within each company’s respective field.

The Missouri Technology Corporation, housed with the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), is a non-profit corporation charged by law with promoting entrepreneurship in Missouri and fostering the growth of emerging high-tech companies.

“To keep Missouri’s economy moving forward, programs such as TechLaunch once again show that our state is open for business, and play a critical role in the growth of high tech, high-growth companies,” said Chris Pieper, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “As Governor Nixon has envisioned, these investments in Missouri’s high tech industries will help turn the ideas of today into the success of tomorrow for small business owners across the state and will strengthen our state’s economy for the 21st century.”

In June, CNN-Money rated the state of Missouri as sixth-best state nationally, and only Midwestern state in the Top Ten, in its “10 Most Entrepreneurial States for 2011” listing, an annual ranking of states that saw the most business start-up activity in the U.S. Earlier this year, the Kauffman Foundation released a separate report that also ranked Missouri as the sixth best state for entrepreneurial activity, a significant increase from its previous ranking of 35th .

The first product from the MediBeacon portfolio is a groundbreaking platform that will allow medical staff to monitor patient kidney function safely, more accurately and in real-time by utilizing a breakthrough fluorescent tracer and optical sensor placed on a patient’s forehead or finger. Unlike existing blood tests that can only deliver time-delayed results and are generally considered a poor surrogate for kidney function, MediBeacon’s system is designed to provide real time and accurate information to help physicians protect kidney function.

In addition to MTC, MediBeacon received a matching investment from Biogenerator, a private entrepreneurship and seed capital fund based in St. Louis. MediBeacon has also received a loan from the St Louis Development Corporation.

The product offerings Companion Pharma is developing will offer the small animal veterinarian and pet owner access to modern, effective, and safe products that are superior to existing drugs approved for animal use. These products will increase the lifespan and improve the quality of life of companion animals. Companion Pharma is led by entrepreneurs with over 100 years of combined experience in life science and pharmaceuticals.

In addition to MTC, Companion Pharma received one of the first Arch Grants and an initial investment from BioGenerator.

The Missouri TechLaunch program is a funding program administered by MTC designed to assist high-tech entrepreneurs overcome the principal financing challenges of launching new start-ups that leverage discoveries and talent at Missouri’s world-class public and private universities and other research organizations. This pre-seed funding is awarded to entrepreneurial start-ups for intellectual property development and evaluation, including in-depth analysis of market potential, conducting competitive analysis, establishing proof of concept of a scientific discovery, prototype design and development, and related activities.