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RTP's AgTech Accelerator Puts $5M Into Skyline Vet Pharma

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A month after its $10 million commitment to start a plant fungicide company, North Carolina’s groundbreaking AgTech Accelerator in Research Triangle Park has made a $5 million investment to establish a new animal health company.

The venture development organization announced the new Series A investment into Skyline Vet Pharma, Inc., a startup that will in-license and develop drug delivery technologies aimed at improving veterinary treatment of companion animals – primarily dogs and cats.

“Following the May 2016 launch of AgTech Accelerator, we have been searching for the best opportunities in the companion animal health space,” said John Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator. “We are delighted to now bring AgTech Accelerator’s deep expertise and unique company-building resources to Skyline Vet Pharma, an early-stage company poised to transform the way we meet our pets’ underserved health care needs. This investment illustrates the kind of breadth, variety and scope built into AgTech Accelerator’s company development approach.”

The move comes on the heels of the consortium’s $10 million outlay to establish Boragen. That company is developing a novel boron-based synthetic chemistry platform, initially focusing on next-generation fungicides intended to mitigate pest resistance and allow for more-sustainable farming methods.

Both companies in Alexandria's RTP campus

Both companies are headquartered within AgTech Accelerator’s facilities in Alexandria’s RTP campus at 7020 Kit Creek Road.

Skyline Vet Pharma was co-founded by animal health and animal biology industry veterans Serge Martinod, D.V.M., Ph.D., Skyline’s Connecticut-based CEO, and George Murphy, of California, who serves as vice president.

The company uses proven, in-licensed delivery technologies to reformulate known drugs not yet approved for use in animal health, creating novel combination products for established markets. The company intends to bring several new products to the market over the next few years in three major therapeutic areas: pain/inflammation, cardiovascular disease and antimicrobials, areas that represent more than 60 percent of the prescriptions written by veterinarians.

“The animal health care market is a growing business,” noted Nandini Mendu, Ph.D., ag biotech enterprise and technology development director at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

“It was worth about $13 billion in 2016 and is estimated to grow to $17 billion by the end of 2021. While development of new products, such as Zoetis’s Rimadyl (arthritis and pain), and Merial’s Frontline (flea and tick protection) address unmet needs, new formulations of existing drugs is an established strategy for life cycle management. Skyline Vet Pharma is taking further advantage of this strategy by reformulating drugs that have not yet been approved for animal use, shortening the time to market. “

There are now about 60 ag biotech companies in the Triangle alone, employing more than 6,000 people.

Skyline’s board includes Martinod, Murphy and Dombrosky as well as Joe Cook Jr., principal of Mountain Group Capital, and David Rosen, D.V.M., founder and former president and chief operating officer of Aratana Therapeutics.

AgTech Accelerator’s investment syndicate partners include Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Bayer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Elanco Animal Health, Flagship Pioneering, Hatteras Venture Partners, Mountain Group Capital, Pappas Capital and Syngenta Ventures.

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