GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

7-Business: Indiana (USA) venture capital fund focuses on biotech niche



------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Fund focuses on biotech niche
        New venture capital firm to aid agricultural life sciences
SOURCE: The Indianapolis Star, USA, by Norm Heikens
        http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060209/
BUSINESS/602090382&SearchID=73235211713578
DATE:   09  Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Fund focuses on biotech niche
New venture capital firm to aid agricultural life sciences

Ron Meeusen has studied for the priesthood, engineered biotech crops at
Dow AgroSciences and, most recently, scouted for technologies that could
help Indiana create well-paying life science jobs.

Now, with the state's help, the Carmel resident is starting a venture
capital fund to help fledgling companies involved in the burgeoning field
of agricultural biotechnology.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Agriculture committed $3.5
million to the MidPoint Food & Ag Fund -- a $500,000 loan to help start
the fund and another $3 million loan after the fund raises $27 million.

The fund is part of a strategy under way in Central Indiana since 2002 to
create life science jobs to replace manufacturing positions wiped out by
technology and outsourcing.

It will focus investments on:
- Nutrition and other products related to human wellness.
- Ethanol, biodiesel and other forms of bioenergy.
- Food safety, such as faster ways to detect germs in meat.

Most Indiana life science businesses are focused on human health.

But BioCrossroads, a Central Indiana nonprofit that promotes the segment,
also thinks the state has potential to create well-paying jobs in agriculture.
State officials like Meeusen's fund because it would help ag
biotechnology, an area long regarded as an underperformer that could
build on the expertise of Purdue University and companies such as Dow
AgroSciences, the Indianapolis-based agricultural arm of Dow Chemical Co.

Meeusen said the fund can help Indiana and the nation compete as the
world demands better food and fuels made from plants.

"Pretty much any agribusiness or farmer around the globe has a chance at
taking our ag jobs and our markets," Meeusen said. "We can't compete on
wages. We've got to compete on technology."

For the past two years Meeusen worked for BioCrossroads, looking for
technologies Indiana companies could develop. In that period he also
wrote a strategic plan for agricultural development that was adopted and
tweaked by the incoming administration of Gov. Mitch Daniels in early
2005 as it created the ag department.

Now, Meeusen is interviewing potential partners with venture capital
experience to help him run the fund. He's also taking advice from Brendan
Fox, former president and CEO of Elanco Animal Health, and Murry
McLaughlin, who managed a similar venture fund in Canada.

The $500,000 loan the fund is receiving from the state carries a 1
percent interest rate, said Ken Klemme, the ag department's assistant
director for economic development.

For the $3 million loan, interest accrues at the same rate until the fund
distributes profits to partners. Then, possibly several years in the
future, the state would receive profits in proportion to its investment.
If MidPoint loses money, so would the state.

Meeusen said U.S Securities and Exchange Commission rules forbid his
predicting profit levels, but added that most venture funds shoot for 20
percent to 30 percent returns.

For the same reason, he would not predict the ultimate size of the fund
when it closes.

However, BioCrossroads President David Johnson said it could climb to $75
million and augment other established funds. BioCrossroads has already
helped to raise $76 million for venture and seed funds.

"It is yet another sign that we have a venture market here," Johnson
said. Meeusen "has taken a great strategy. He is the right guy to take it
forward."



------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  New fund will aid agriculture biotech companies
SOURCE: Associated Press / The News-Sentinel, USA
        http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/news/local/13832238.htm
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------



New fund will aid agriculture biotech companies

INDIANAPOLIS - A former Dow AgroSciences researcher is starting a venture
capital fund intended to help Indiana's fledgling agricultural
biotechnology companies get off the ground.

The new MidPoint Food & Ag Fund aims to amass $30 million that would be
invested in select companies working to develop promising ag
biotechnology products. Those include genetically modified crops that
improve yields, enhance nutrition, have medicinal properties or can be
used in vaccines.

Ron Meeusen, who has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the
food and agriculture industry, will manage the Indianapolis-based fund,
which is getting support from the state.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Agriculture committed $3.5
million to the fund - a $500,000 loan to help start it and another $3
million loan after it raises $27 million.

The fund is part of a strategy in central Indiana that BioCrossroads Inc.
has overseen since 2002. Officials want to create well-paying life
science jobs to replace manufacturing positions wiped out by technology
and outsourcing.

BioCrossroads has helped to raise $76 million for life sciences ventures
and seed funds.

State officials like Meeusen's fund because it would help ag
biotechnology, an area long regarded as an underperformer that could
build on the expertise of Purdue University and companies such as Dow
AgroSciences, the Indianapolis-based agricultural arm of Dow Chemical Co.

Meeusen said the fund can help Indiana and the nation compete as the
world demands better food and fuels made from plants.

"We can't compete on wages. We've got to compete on technology," he said.

For the past two years Meeusen has worked for BioCrossroads, looking for
technologies Indiana companies could develop. In that period, he also
wrote a strategic plan for agricultural development that Gov. Mitch
Daniels' administration has adopted in part.

BioCrossroads President David Johnson said Meeusen's new ag biotech fund
has "a great strategy."

"It is yet another sign that we have a venture market here," he said.

Meeusen is interviewing potential partners with venture capital
experience to help him run the new fund. He is getting advice from
Brendan Fox, former president and CEO of Elanco Animal Health, and Murry
McLaughlin, who managed a similar venture fund in Canada.

The $500,000 loan from the state carries a 1 percent interest rate, said
Ken Klemme, the ag department's assistant director for economic development.

For the $3 million loan, interest accrues at the same rate until the fund
distributes profits to partners. Then, possibly several years in the
future, the state would receive profits in proportion to its investment.

If MidPoint loses money, so would the state.


--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)genet-info.org
W: <http://www.genet-info.org>



-----------------------------
   GENET-news mailing list
-----------------------------