SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 12, 2013

6 companies join Beverly technology incubator

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The nonprofit life sciences and “cleantech” business incubator North Shore InnoVentures has added six startups to its lineup at the Cummings Center.

“This is a record number of companies joining our incubator at once and is reflective of the improving business climate and continuing growth opportunities for startups in Massachusetts,” said Martha Farmer, CEO of North Shore InnoVentures.

The six companies have all joined since March, making a total of 21 companies in a program that nurtures young tech companies. InnoVentures provides office and lab space, plus access to experienced entrepreneurs and mentors, among other services.

Founded in 2008, North Shore InnoVentures is focused on life sciences and clean technologies, because these sectors are two of the strongest technology clusters in the state. The companies that join do so to gain access to facilities, save money, find a mentor, gain expertise, meet with investment advisers or collaborate with other companies.

“I think it shows a couple of things,” Farmer said of so many companies joining at once. “It shows we are a little bit more visible than we used to be.” It also shows the economy has improved.

Farmer said the business plan of North Shore InnoVentures calls for adding two companies every three months, so “we’ve been busy.”

“As fast as we add them, we graduate them,” said Farmer, who said so far seven companies have left North Shore InnoVentures to grow on their own, and two decided not to go any further with their business plans. The average length of stay is one to two years.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of room to grow.

“The beauty of being at the Cummings Center when we outgrow the space we are in, we can annex some more,” Farmer said.

The new crop is mostly made up of biotech companies, though one, Akita Innovations, has technology that can be used in the cleantech space, Farmer said. That may be due to the fact that there are a lot of biomedical companies on the North Shore. For some reason, funding for cleantech startups is harder to come by than that for biotech.

The recent additions to North Shore InnoVentures’ roster are:

Akita Innovations. The company uses ”advanced materials technologies to solve research and product development challenges for commercial and government customers,” according to a press release. Its materials know-how is useful in sensing, photonics and environmental protection. akitainnovations.com.

Apptomics develops mobile applications and devices for patients, caregivers and health care professionals to help them manage symptoms of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. apptomics.com.

Lariat Biosciences is developing a noninvasive way to diagnose early cancer based on circulating free DNA within the bloodstream. Farmer said this technology may be used to catch cancers that are hard to diagnose early, such as pancreatic cancer.

RAN Biotechnologies provides specialty chemicals for biotechnology applications. These chemicals include insoluble materials to capture, purify and diagnose viruses, bacteria and proteins. ranbiotechnologies.com.

Quad Technologies is developing separation technologies for the biotechnology industry. It is developing a unique, dissolvable hydrogel aimed at solving problems involved with protein purification and rare cell separation. quadtechnologies.net.

ZS Genetics is developing a new, electron microscope DNA sequencing technology to address the needs of genomics research. zsgenetics.com.

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Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.