Did you make something amazing in the laboratory at a university and want to turn it into the next big biotech company?

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will host “Launching & Funding Biotech University Start-Ups” on Thursday, June 15, at 5 p.m. at the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) at 675 Route 1 South in North Brunswick. For more information, visit www.njeda.com.

Panelists will describe their companies’ paths to spinning off from universities and offer entrepreneurs guidance and recommendations on launching and funding new endeavors.

“Capitalizing on the new technologies advancing in our world-class universities is key to the continued growth of New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem,” EDA CEO Melissa Orsen said. “We are working to establish a greater link between industry and academia and help pave the way for successful technology transfer.”

The event is co-sponsored by BioNJ, the New Jersey Technology Council, and Rutgers University.

Panelists include Visikol founder and CEO Michael Johnson, Actinobac Biomed Inc. CEO Benjamin Belinka, and Chromocell Corporation co-founder and CEO Christian Kopfli. The panel will be moderated by Vincent Smeraglia, executive director of strategic alliances at Rutgers University.

The panelists hail from companies that are either current CCIT tenants or graduates. CCIT is a 46,000-square-foot life sciences incubator that is currently home to nearly 20 businesses. CCIT is located within the Technology Centre of New Jersey, a 75-acre research park that houses such companies as Chromocell and Orthobond (a CCIT graduate), Allergan, and Merial.

Michael Johnson started working at Visikol while he was pursuing a doctorate in applied microbiology at Rutgers. Visikol was conceived in the plant biology labs at Rutgers as a safe and easy-to-use clearing agent for plant biology research. The technology has now expanded into a platform that is used for a wide-range of applications from cancer biology to understanding human fetal development. Visikol arrived at CCIT in March, 2016. Johnson was recently named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list for science.

Another Rutgers spinoff, Actinobac Biomed develops therapeutics for multiple indications, including blood cancers, autoimmune/inflammatory diseases, and HIV. The company graduated from the CCIT in 2013. Before joining Actinobac, Benjamin Belinka was an executive at other drug companies. He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from King’s College.

Christian Kopfli has grown Chromocell from its beginnings in 2002 as a spinoff from New York’s Rockefeller University into an innovative biotechnology company that now employees over 120 people. The company is focused on discovering new drugs to manage pain and develops and commercializes novel technologies including new flavors, nutritional ingredients, and therapeutics. After co-founding Chromocell, Kopfli initially served as the company’s general counsel before becoming CEO in 2005. Kopfli is a board member of BioNJ and was admitted to the bar in New York and Switzerland.

Moderator Vincent Smeraglia works on behalf of Rutgers University to develop collaborative biomedical relationships with universities, foundations and corporate partners. He was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Office of Technology Commercialization, overseeing patenting and licensing of Rutgers-born inventions and previously held a similar position at UMDNJ. Before joining UMDNJ/Rutgers, Smeraglia conducted biomedical research at Cytogen Corporation, developing antibody conjugates for diagnostic and therapeutic clinical uses.

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