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4 posts from January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013

News: Biscayne Pharmaceuticals receives $1.5M in funding

Biscayne Pharmaceuticals, a company that uses the discoveries of Miami Nobel Prize-winner Andrew Schally, announced it has received $1.5 million in financing to develop growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) drugs.

Schally, the Distinguished Leonard M. Miller Professor of Pathology & Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is working with Joshua M. Hare, a Biscayne co-founder who is the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine in the University of Miami Health System, to develop the GHRH technology for coronary heart disease.

The financing was led by the Reich Group, a Miami Beach investment firm. Managing partner Samuel Reich, formerly with Acuity Pharmaceuticals and OPKO Health, is becoming Biscayne’s chief executive and chairman of the board.

Biscayne’s technology is licensed from the University of Miami, the company said in a press release.


Varsavsky says he will bring FON to Miami

An interesting development for the tech ecosystem:

Martin_Varsavsky_2009b (1)Back in December at the Americas Venture Capital Conference, Martin Varsavsky, a well-known European serial entrepreneur and investor and the CEO of FON,  the largest Wi-Fi network in the world that has not yet entered the U.S. market, told the audience he had been thinking about Miami a lot. Varsavsky, who left Argentina at 17 and spent time in Madrid, London, New York and now Miami, said he was exploring opening the U.S. office for FON in South Florida and running global functions out of it and thought he would need at least 30 top-notch developers. He said he was also considering other places in the U.S., such as New York, where he already had a small office, and Silicon Valley.  “The question is: Can I get the world class team that I need? I think it may be possible,” he said at the time, adding that he believed there may be a large Miami tech diaspora who could be lured back as well as new candidates from other areas.

He continued to explore and research the question, and today, in a blog post he said he has decided on Miami, hinted of an interesting new product, and is looking for someone to head up operations.  "I have been going to Miami since 2009 and the city is getting better every month."

Venture funding drops in 2012

NEW YORK (AP) – A new study shows that funding for business startups declined in 2012, the first time that's happened in three years, as venture capitalists spent less money on fewer deals.

Capital-intense sectors like clean technology and life sciences were among the hardest hit, according to the MoneyTree study released Friday. It was conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters.

In all of 2012 startup investments fell 10 percent to $26.52 billion from $29.46 billion. There were 3,698 deals completed, down 6 percent from 3,937 in 2011. Venture investments also declined 13 percent in the final quarter of the year, to $6.4 billion from $7.38 billion a year earlier, though the number of deals was the same in both quarters at 968.

In Florida, the drop was much steeper. In 2012, investments fell 41 percent to $202.9 million, compared to $346.3 million in 2011. There were 34 deals in Florida in 2012, compared to 55 in 2011.

“General economic uncertainty continues to hinder capital investments, and venture capitalists are no different,” said Tracy T. Lefteroff, global managing partner of the venture capital practice at PwC U.S. “As the number of new funds being raised continues to shrink, venture capitalists are being more discriminating with where they're willing to place new bets. At the same time, they're holding on to reserves to continue to support the companies already in their portfolio.”

By industry, software remained the largest investment sector last year, the report found, with $8.27 billion invested into 1,266 deals. That's up from $7.51 billion invested in 1,176 deals in 2011.

San Francisco's SquareTrade Inc., which provides electronics warranties, landed the biggest round of funding in 2012 – $238 million from Bain Capital. Mobile payments startup Square Inc. was in second place with $200 million secured from Citi Ventures and others.

Game Developers Guild hosting Jam: 'a hackathon on steroids'

JamuntitledThe Game Developers Guild will be hosting the Global Game Jam on Jan. 25-27 in Miami. Guild Master Frank Hernandez says this 48-hour game programming/development event “to put it simply is like a hackathon but on steroids,” he said. Game designers, programmers and artists gather all over the world to develop games over the period of 48 hours.

To register for the free Global Game Jam, go here.

This is the second year the Game Developers Guild is hosting it in Miami. Before that, the closest location to participate  was in Orlando. “It was an incredible success last year (with four games being developed at the end of the 48 hour period) and this year we are aiming to improve on last year's experience,” said Hernandez. 

GDG_Headshot_1 “We are also partnering with other jam sites in Argentina, Mexico and Spain so that we may hack together and increase our ties with the global tech community. We are also partnering with COIL (Collaborative Open Innovation Lab) and the Engineering Department at FIU to make this happen,” added Hernandez, pictured at left.

 According to Hernandez, The Game Developers Guild uses a hands-on approach to growing the tech community and the results are already being seen. For instance, the Guild sent teams composed mostly of FIU undergraduate students to the past two ATT Mobile Apps Hackathons and took home prizes at both.