Entrepreneurial spirit and UB support drives global growth
One of the first life sciences companies spun out of the university, Athenex helped spark an entrepreneurial movement that has grown into robust support programming such as pre-seed workshops, training, academic advisory opportunities and funding mechanisms to help startups move forward. Company founder David G. Hangauer, PhD, said that when Athenex (previously known as Kinex) started, the ecosystem was very new, “At that time, Kinex had access to UB’s CBLS state-of-the-art chemistry labs— the only labs available capable of combinatorial chemistry. We also used the CBLS biology lab space and the clean room facility to develop processes for manufacturing clinical drug products.” Besides UB’s facilities, Athenex benefitted from multiple CAT projects and financial support that made its investors’ money go further.
Hangauer, who came to UB after a decade in the private sector, said the university was supportive of his pioneering efforts to discover new kinase inhibitors. UB continued to provide programs to set research and licensing terms at the project planning stage. “This kind of collaboration made it possible to get other investors interested and motivated,” said Hangauer.
“Athenex is proof that you can start a life sciences company in Buffalo and take it all the way to an IPO. Having office and lab space in the Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) building allowed us to hire scientists quickly. We were a virtual company up to that point. Today, we are a rock on the medical campus and we are building a brand new manufacturing facility in Dunkirk, NY.”