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Magen Biosciences, a Waltham, MA-based company focused on novel dermatology treatments, is acquired by the contract research firm PPD for $14.5 million December 18, 2010

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Magen Biosciences, a Waltham, MA-based company focused on novel dermatology treatments, will be acquired by the contract research firm PPD for $14.5 million. The firm was founded in 2006 by a well known group of biotech entrepreneuers and investors, including Rich Aldrich, founder of RA Capital, David Fisher, chief of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Christoph Westphal, co-founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. Having raised $17 million in seed and Series A financing from a syndicate of backers including ARCH Venture Partners, TVM Capital, and IDG Ventures (now Flybridge Capital Partners), the purchase price is unlikely to result in an exit for Magen’s backers.

Back in 2008, Magen inlicensed for an undisclosed sum a number of derm compounds from Eli Lilly that showed positive anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative results in preclinical studies. It’s a good thing they did: those compounds were the primary reason for PPD’s interest in the biotech. The buy-out gives PPD an entrée into the specialist field of dermatology. In a press release announcing the news, PPD CEO Fred Eshelman noted that dermatologic treatments generally have a “more straightforward path to regulatory approval.” That’s certainly part of the logic behind moves of another specialist drug maker, Valeant, which is trying to brand itself as a derm power-house thanks to the recent acquisitions of Coria Laboratories, Dow, and DermaTech.

Cambridge-based MIT spinoff Metabolix (MBLX) pioneers biodegradeable plastics made from plant matter: Bioplastic April 23, 2010

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The publicly traded company has seen its stock nearly double over the past year. The company has genetically engineered a microbe that eats sugar from corn and generates a plastic-like molecule called PHA. After a few months, the bioplastic will decompose in water or soil and is so pure that waste containers made with the material are safe for use in backyard composting heaps. Metabolix also claims its bioplastic is carbon neutral.


The company has entered into a joint venture with the Archer Daniels Midland company (ADM) which is called Telles. The venture will begin shipping their “Mirel” bioplastic pellets from a new plant in Clinton, Iowa. Newell Rubbermaid’s Paper Mate division is one of the first customers, using the Mirel bioplastic pellets in a resin form for their new $1.25 biodegradeable Paper Mate pens.


Metabolix charges around $2.50 a pound for its green bioplastic, about twice the price of traditional plastics. But increased customer demand for “Green” products and biodegradeable items is so strong in many cases that lower margins can be made up for by increased unit sales.


Metabolix creates products that are genetically modified – a taboo in many environmentalist circles. And, as the demand for bioplastics increases, many worry that the demand for corn, already being used increasingly for ethanol production, will rise even more dramatically, driving up food prices.


Metabolix is working to address these concerns by researching next generation plastics made from nonfood material such as prairie switchgrass.


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How genetic engineers manipulate genes April 11, 2010

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How genetic engineers manipulate genes

Genes are the instructions to make proteins, which are responsible for almost all of the processes that keep organisms alive.

Genetic engineering techniques are used to insert genes from other organisms into bacteria, which then churn out proteins that produce hepatitis-B vaccine and insulin for diabetics. Botanists genetically modify crops to boost hardiness and nutritional value.

But geneticists do more than bestow organisms with new characteristics. They also manipulate DNA to study the role of individual genes. Scientists add, delete, or modify genes, thus altering the corresponding proteins’ structure or levels in the cell and revealing the genes’ role.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineers have manipulated the DNA of organisms as diverse as mammals, birds, fish, insects, worms, plants, fungi and bacteria. These studies have given scientists valuable insights into how the human body functions and why diseases arise in humans.
Scientific identification of genes can also provide targets for new antibiotic and antiviral drugs. Further, gene therapy could someday allow scientists to cure diseases and cancers by replacement of defective genes.

In addition, genetically engineering microbes could produce new biodegradable polymers or clean up radioactive waste sites or petroleum spills.

Although scientists have sequences the complete genomes of many organisms, including humans, there is still a great deal unknown about what all those genes do. As the quest for this genetic knowledge continues, the important role that genetic engineers play will only expand.

Four ways to manipulate genes:

1. Amplify a genetic characteristic:
The purpose would be to learn more about a gene’s role in an organism.

Genetic engineers would effect this change by manipulating or adding an extra copy of the gene to increase its activity.

Because over expression of a gene responsible for a cell’s ability to respond to a protein called epidermal growth factor is associated with most cancers, this has led to the development of anti-cancer drugs that target the expression of this gene.

2. Delete a genetic characteristic:
The purpose would be to learn more about a gene’s role in an organism, this time by seeing what happens when the gene is removed.

Genetic engineers or scientists would remove or replace the normal functioning version of the gene to delete it.

Deleting certain genes in mice has shown how their absence affects disease. Knocking out genes like PINK1 or DJ-1, for example, can lead to Parkinson’s symptoms in mice, providing an animal model to study the disease.

3. Modify a genetic characteristic:
The purpose would be to identify the specific sequence of DNA that is responsible for a gene’s function.

A mutated gene is inserted into an organism. The gene produces a modified protein.

Modified genes may explain how enzymes bind to other molecules. Angiotensin-converting enzyme, for example, plays a role in heart function and diabetes. Protein sequences allow the enzyme to bind to ions, which helps to regulate its activity.

4. Map a genetic characteristic:
The purpose would be to understand the activity of a gene and its protein.

A “marked” gene is transferred into an organism’s cells.

Proteins of marked BRCA1 genes, whose mutation can increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, were found in the cells’ mitochondria. BRCA1’s presence there may be important for tis function in suppressing tumors, because cancer is often associated with mutated mitochondrial DNA.

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Germany’s Merck KgAA offers $7.2B for Billerica’s Millipore March 8, 2010

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Germany’s Merck KgAA offers $7.2B for Billerica’s Millipore. Merck KgAA has swooped in to offer $6 billion, or $107 per share, for the bioresearch and bioproduction company, beating Waltham’s Thermo Fisher to the punch. Including debt, the deal is valued at $7.2 billion. The deal will boost Merck’s chemicals business, which currently generates 25 percent of its total revenue, the company says in a statement. With the Millipore buyout, that number will grow to 35 percent. And it gives the developer a strong source of revenue that’s not subject to the uncertainties of drug development.

The German company says it intends to retain Millipore’s headquarters in Billerica, Massachusetts and combine it with Merck’s U.S. chemical headquarters. It also plans to build on Millipore’s workforce and retain its senior management. Merck expects that the combined business will generate annual cost synergies of around $100 million (€ 75 million), which it expects to realize within three years from the closing of the transaction, according to a statement.

In 2009, Millipore generated sales of $1.7 billion, with roughly 6,000 employees in more than 30 countries. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2010.

Merck KGaA and Millipore Announce Transaction
Merck to acquire all outstanding Millipore shares for US$ 107 per share in cash, creating a world-class partner for the life science sector
Agreed transaction valued at approximately € 5.3 billion (US$ 7.2 billion)
Combination will create a € 2.1 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) partner for the Life Science sector and transform Merck Chemicals
Combined business will have significant scale in high-growth bioresearch and bioproduction segments
Merck intends to retain Millipore’s headquarters in Billerica, Massachusetts
Darmstadt, Germany and Billerica, MA – February 28, 2010 – Merck KGaA, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company, and Millipore Corporation (NYSE: MIL), a leading Life Science company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, USA, today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck KGaA will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Millipore, for US$ 107 per share in cash, or a total transaction value, including net debt, of approximately € 5.3 billion (US$ 7.2 billion). The transaction was approved by the boards of directors of both companies. Millipore and Merck will create a € 2.1 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) world-class partner for the Life Science sector, achieving significant scale in high-margin specialty products with an attractive growth profile.
“This transaction is very attractive to shareholders, customers and employees of both companies,” said Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board of Merck. “This is a combination with an excellent strategic fit, which will allow us to cover the entire value chain for our pharma and biopharma customers, offering in entire value chain for our pharma and biopharma customers, offering integrated solutions beyond chemicals.”
Millipore has a strong position in the attractive bioresearch and bioproduction segments, offering a comprehensive range of products, technologies and services for pharma and biotech companies, as well as for academia, to improve laboratory productivity and to develop and optimize manufacturing processes. In 2009, Millipore generated sales of US$ 1.7 billion, with around 6,000 employees in more than 30 countries.
Martin Madaus, Chairman, President and CEO of Millipore said, “Over the past five years, we have transformed Millipore into a life science leader by driving innovation, entering new markets, and generating exceptional operational performance. Today’s announcement, which is the outcome of a thorough strategic review process, is a validation of the tremendous value of the Millipore brand and a testament to the value this transformation has created for all of our stakeholders. We are excited to join a high-quality company like Merck as we will gain greater scale and scope in the life science industry. This is a very positive outcome for our employees and customers as we continue to build on our strategy for growth, while maintaining our headquarters in Billerica.”
Together, Millipore and Merck will have a significant presence in high-growth segments and an enhanced geographic presence. Combining the research and development capabilities of both companies will create a powerful innovation platform to develop cutting-edge technologies that are tailored even more closely to the needs of customers.
Dr. Kley added: “By combining Millipore’s bioscience and bioprocess knowledge with our own expertise in serving pharma customers, we will be able to unlock value in our chemicals business and transform it into a strong growth driver for Merck. Through this acquisition, we will expand the overall product offering of the Merck Group, using the well-recognized Millipore brand in addition to our own brand.”
The acquisition is fully in line with Merck’s strategy of focusing on high-margin, specialty products with an attractive growth profile. In addition, the transaction will lead to a more balanced business profile for the Group. Currently, the Chemicals business sector generates around 25% of Merck’s total revenues. Following the transaction, the chemicals business will contribute 35% of total Group revenues of € 8.9 billion (pro forma), driven by its strong Liquid Crystals business and the new world-class life science business.
In order to ensure a seamless integration of the two businesses, Merck will apply a “best of both worlds” integration approach across all operating business functions. Merck plans to build on Millipore’s talented workforce and intends to retain its senior management. The company also plans to maintain Millipore’s headquarters in Billerica and combine it with Merck’s U.S. chemicals headquarters. Merck expects that the combined business will generate annual cost synergies of around US$ 100 million (€ 75 million), which Merck expects to realize within three years from the closing of the transaction.
The acquisition will be funded through available cash and a term loan provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas and Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft. Merck plans to replace part of the facility through the issuance of bonds. Merck is committed to retaining a solid investment-grade rating.
Completion of the acquisition requires the approval of Millipore shareholders, for which Millipore will call a special shareholders meeting, and the satisfaction of other customary conditions, including antitrust clearance. Due to the fact that the two businesses are highly complementary, Merck expects that the transaction will clear regulatory review. Merck anticipates that the transaction will be completed in the second half of 2010, at which time all outstanding shares of Millipore common stock will be exchanged for the right to receive the agreed cash payment.
Guggenheim Securities, LLC and Perella Weinberg Partners LP have acted as financial advisors to Merck in the transaction, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as the Group’s legal advisor. Goldman Sachs & Co. acted as financial advisor to Millipore, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP acted as Millipore’s legal advisors.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Further information:
Please find further information on Merck’s corporate website http://www.merck.de
A pre-recorded interview with Merck Chairman of the Executive Board Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley is available at http://www.merck.de

News Release
Media Call and Press Conference:
Merck Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, and Dr. Bernd Reckmann, Head of the Chemicals business sector, will discuss the transaction at a press conference on March 1, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. CET. The press conference will also be broadcast on Merck’s website: http://www.merck.de.
Analysts and Investor Call:
Merck Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, and Merck Chief Financial Officer, Dr. Michael Becker, will discuss the transaction in a conference call for European analysts and investors at 9 a.m. CET and for U.S. analysts and investors at 2:30 p.m. CET (8:30 a.m. EST), both on March 1, 2010.
Merck KGaA stock symbols:
Reuters: MRCG, Bloomberg: MRK GY, Dow Jones: MRK.DE
Frankfurt Stock Exchange: ISIN: DE 000 659 9905 – WKN: 659 990
About Merck
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 7.7 billion in 2009, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approximately 33,000 employees in 61 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck’s operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.
About Millipore
Millipore (NYSE: MIL) is a Life Science leader providing cutting-edge technologies, tools, and services for bioscience research and biopharmaceutical manufacturing. As a strategic partner, we collaborate with customers to confront the world’s challenging human health issues. From research to development to production, our scientific expertise and innovative solutions help customers tackle their most complex problems and achieve their goals. Millipore Corporation is an S&P 500 company with more than 6,000 employees worldwide.

Read more: http://www.fiercebiotech.com/press-releases/merck-kgaa-and-millipore-announce-transaction-0#ixzz0hcesNRXK

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Cambridge’s Knome pioneers the new science of DNA gene sequencing: is there a DNA scan in your health care future? March 8, 2010

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Gene researchers have been anticipating for years now about how gene sequencing technology will revolutionize the practice of medicine. With the steady advancement of Moore’s law-induced cost lowering, cheap gene sequencing means this revolution is now underway. The cost of decoding all 6 Billion letters in the human genome has dropped from around $1 Million in 2007 to less than $20,000 today.

Already the cost of performing a gene scan on a patient can be lowered to $2,500 if a two-step method is used to extract and sequence only the 1% of the gene sequences that contain known genes. New gene sequencers being introduced by companies such as Illumina and Life Technologies could lower the cost of sequencing an entire patient’s genome to below $3,000 by the end of 2010.

Although DNA sequencers have not been approved for use in medical testing, and insurers don’t pay for sequencing, peering into the DNA of wealthy patients with rare and scary diseases is becoming an option.

Knome, a privately held, Cambridge, Massachusetts based company, started out in 2008 by charging up to $350,000 to arrange sequencing and interpretation of the gene data for wealthy patrons as a vanity project. The company now offers the scans for as little as $25,000. The company’s CEO, Jorge Conde, is said to have expressed that several patients hoping to use the scans to guide their care providers in diagnosis and prescription. Cancer patients may be among the first to benefit from DNA sequencing technology.

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MIT professor and double amputee invents the Iwalk PowerFoot, the world’s most advanced robotic prosthetic foot December 3, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Hardware, Health Care IT, Robotics, Startups, Venture Capital.
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MIT professor and double amputee Dr. Hugh Herr is building the world’s most advanced prosthetic foot. In 2006, Herr founded Iwalk, which has plans to release next year the PowerFoot One, the world’s most advanced robotic ankle and foot. Iwalk is a startup funded by General Catalyst Partners and WFD Ventures. Iwalk has raised $10.2 million from investors.

Dr. Hugh Herr with the Iwalk PowerFoot

Dr. Hugh Herr with the Iwalk PowerFoot



The Iwalk PowerFoot is the only foot and ankle in the word that doesn’t depend on its wearer’s energy. With a system of passive springs and a half-pound rechargeable lithium iron phosphate battery, the foot – made of aluminum, titanium, plastic and carbon fiber – provides the same 20-joule push off the ground that human muscles and tendons do. It automatically adjusts the power to the walker’s speed, but users can also dial that power up or down with a Bluetooth-enabled phone, and with a forthcoming iPhone application.

Most prosthetic feet are fixed at a clumsy 90 degrees. The Iwalk PowerFoot, equipped with three internal microprocessors and twelve force, inertia and position sensors, automatically adjusts its angle, stiffness and damping 500 times a second. Employing the same sort of sensory feedback loops that the human nervous system uses, plus a library of known patterns, the PowerFoot adjusts for slopes, dips its toe naturally when walking down the stairs, even hangs casually when the user crosses his or her legs.

Potential customers include the Department of Defense, looking for prostheses for the nearly 1,000 soldiers who have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veterans Administration and the Army are among the investors in Dr. Herr’s research.

Herr has a reputation as an obsessive student, earning a master’s in mechanical enginerring at MIT and a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard. He sat on a panel of scientists that confirmed that South African Oscar Pistorius, a sprinter with no legs below the knee, should be allowed to compete in the Olympics.


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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies,software developmentAgile project managementmanaging software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projectsecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurshipecommercetelecommunications andsoftware development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.


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Cambridge’s Ligon Discovery raises $1 Million in seed capital funding December 2, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Health Care IT, Pharmaceuticals, Startups, Venture Capital.
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Ligon Discovery reported recently on its website that it has raised $1 milllion in seed financing from incTANK Ventures. The Cambridge, MA-based startup says it uses a small molecule microarray system developed at Harvard University to discover drugs, and the drug-discovery technology has already been put to work at the Broad Institute. The company founders include Benjamin Ebert of Harvard Medical School, Angela Koehler of the Broad Institute, and company CEO Patrick Kleyn, who was previously director of scientific planning at the Broad. As part of the financing, IncTank Ventures general partner Christian Bailey is joining the board of directors at Ligon, according to the company.

Cambridge’s Cambridgesoft, life sciences software company, raises $31.3 Million in equity funding December 1, 2009

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Cambridge, MA-based Cambridgesoft, which makes software for life sciences companies, disclosed in regulatory documents filed November 17 that it has raised $31.3 million in new equity-based financing. Cambridgesoft first announced the funding round (though not the amount) in a November 16 release that named new investor Health Evolution Partners and existing investor Goldman Sachs as the funders in the round.

Waltham’s ImmunoGen lands a $1 Million licensing fee from Amgen November 25, 2009

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Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN) said recently that Amgen has purchased a second license to develop a treatment that uses ImmunoGen’s technology for linking targeted antibodies to cell-killing agents that make them more potent. ImmunoGen will get $1 million upfront and could receive $34 million worth of milestone payments over time if Amgen is successful in developing a drug against an undisclosed target on cancer cells. Amgen bought its first such license to the ImmunoGen technology in September.

Waltham based Affectiva, biosensor developer, raises $1.7 Million from a group of undisclosed investors November 16, 2009

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Waltham, MA -based Affectiva, developer of a biosensor that both measures and communicates the emotional arousal state of a human, raises $1.7 Million from a group of undisclosed investors.

Cambridge based Genocea Biosciences tests experimental vaccines in a simulated human immune system November 14, 2009

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Cambridge, MA -based Genocea Biosciences uses technology developed at the Harvard Medical School to very rapidly test experimental vaccines in a simulated version of the human immune system.

The startup has raised $23 Million from venture capital firms SR One and Waltham -based Polaris Ventures.

Epizyme, based in Cambridge and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, has raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Amgen and Astrellas Pharma November 14, 2009

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Epizyme, based in Cambridge, MA and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, announced on October 7th that it had raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including the famed Silicon Valley -based Kleiner Perkins Caulfied and Beyers, the the venture-investing units of both biotech giant Amgen and Japanese drugmaker Astrellas Pharma.

The startup has raised $46 Million to date. Epizyme’s drugs attack cancer-causing enzymes. Genes determine how our bodies change over time. But they only spring into action when prompted by another set of biochemical factors – seperate from DNA – known as the epigenome. Epizyme scientists believe they may be able to control disease-related genes by aiming new drugs at these factors.

The science of epigenetics is understandably complex. Raising such funds was an impressive feat for this startup, given a market that is hostile currently to biotech startups.

The amount of venture capital raised by biotechs in the third quarter of 2009 dropped 30% Year-over-year, to $759 Million, according to a recent report by financial services firm Burrill & Co.

Epizyme is primarily in the spotlight for its promising research on cancer. The company’s understanding of how DNA wraps around proteins that control how genes create cells, tissues and organs are the basis of its discoveries.

Epizyme’s newest genetic pharmaceuticals are designed to cripple malfunctioning enzymes that contribute to such afflictions as cancers of the prostrate, lung, breast and more. These drugs may someday be tested against inflammatory diseases, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Dr. Kazumi Shiosaki, PhD, is a chemist who founded Epizyme with funding from MPM Capital, where she worked after leaving Millenium Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Shiosaki worked at Abbott Laboratories.

Epizyme is working in the exciting field of epigenetics and has a solid stable of talented scientists and drug industry veterans, including Chief Scientific Officer Robert A. Copeland, who came to the company from GlaxoSmithKline.

BioAssets Development, a Wellesley based investigator of spinal applications for existing drugs, enters into $30 Million option to be acquired by Cephalon November 12, 2009

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Frazer, PA-based Cephalon (NASDAQ: CEPH) has agreed to pay $30 million for an option to acquire BioAssets Development Corporation, a Wellesley, MA-based company investigating spinal uses for existing and experimental drugs, according to a press release. Under the terms of the agreement, BioAssets will be eligible for an additional payment if Cephalon exercises the option, as well as for payments tied to regulatory and sales milestones.

Reynders and McVeigh, Boston Green Technology Fund, shares five green technology stock picks June 10, 2009

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Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management is a Boston firm that picks green stocks for wealthy individuals. Recently, managing partner Charlton Reynders, who along with partner Patrick McVeigh formed the firm in 2005, talked about five of the company’s green technology picks for the future.

Reynders and McVeigh invest in a group of 25 to 35 companies that pass certain criteria on social, environmental, and economic factors. They claim that their $350 million portfolio lost 1.6% annually in the last three years, as compared to an 8.3% drop in the S&P 500.

They support a concept known as investing in the green revolution’s “backbone”. Backbone is defined as the suppliers of technologies other green ventures use to make riskier end-use products, such as solar panels, wind turbines and biofuels.

“Many green tech companies are one-shot wonders,” Reyders explains. As the credit crunch isn’t yet over, companies whose debt equals more than one-third of capital are potentially at risk.

One pick is Applied Materials. They entered the solar business three years ago and have such customers as China’s Suntech Power. The solar unit had sales of $819 million last year and lost $183 MM. They plan to expand into LED lighting over the next few years.

A second pick is Denmark’s Novozymes, which sells the enzymes used in corn-based ethanol production. They are working on the enzymes used in cellulosic-based ethanol and detergent enzymes that can displace polluting phosphates.

Danish company Vestas Wind Turbines is a third pick. They are a cheap stock and one with alot of potential upside.

Switzerland’s ABB is the world’s largest maker of equipment for electric power grids. These grids, worldwide, may need an upgrade in order to handle expanded green technology power generation and get that extra electricity to market efficiently.

For example, in China ABB is building a 1,250-mile high voltage DC power line to carry current up to 20% more efficiently from the Xiangjiaba Hydro Plant to Shanghai.

Another stock to watch grow in the new green technology economy is Deere & Co., which will benefit from the fitting of GPS sensors to more efficiently grade farmland and minimize water runoff and help to increase crop yields.

Boston Biotech goes on life support May 2, 2009

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biotechFor Boston’s high-risk, cash-intensive biotech industry, it’s now-or-never time. Biotech companies have always been notoriously risky. They tend to burn through cash – to develop one drug can cost as much as $1 billion – and operate on a “pre-revenue” basis for years. Now the credit crunch is hitting the lab-coat crowd harder than most. For private outfits venture money is drying up on one end, and on the other there’s no easy exit in an IPO; on the publicly traded side, small and midsize listed companies are struggling to find enough funding to stay afloat. Life sciences research firm Burrill & Company says that one-third of publicly traded biotechs have less than six months’ worth of cash left – and he predicts that as many as 100 might go under or be forced to merge this year (10 have filed for bankruptcy since November). While that’s bad news for some companies, other companies may benefit from the available assets and skilled staff of these Boston biotech firms should they prove unable to bring their promising new drugs to market.

Oscient Pharmaceuticals, a Waltham, MA company working on drugs for high blood cholesterol and chronic bronchitis, and financed by Orbimed Advisors and Paul Capital Partners, has asked Broadpoint Capital to explore a possible sale after auditors warned the 213-employee company of an impending cash shortage.

Altus Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridgeport, MA company working on drugs for gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, and funded by U.S. Venture Partners and Warburg Pincus, has pulled the plug on its drug for cystic fibrosis and cut more than 100 jobs. One of Altus’ VC board members resigned abruptly in April.

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