As reported in Xconomy-Seattle, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has broken new ground by making its first equity investment in a biotech firm. The company, Liquidia Technologies in RTP, NC, is the recipient of $10 M in equity investing. The Gates foundation will have a non-voting member on its board as part of the deal.
Liquidia has a novel 3-D nanotechnology that allows it to create specific shaped particles very reproducibly to evoke a specific immune response and is useful in a variety of vaccine applications. The tight 3-D particle shape control is scalable and is expected to be accepted by the regulatory bodies like the FDA.
In return for its investment, the Gates foundation will have intimate access to the company's development programs and be able to provide input. They will have an expectation that the company will make its technolgy available for global health products development in keeping with the Gates' mission. As part of the deal, Gates has specified particular projects that it would like to see Liquidia work on.
Gates says this is a different type of tool it would like to experiment with to back companies in which it has a specific interest that have platform technologies with a wide variety of applications. The equity funding format is more flexible for Liquidia and if things go well follow on funding is possible.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 8th 2011.