AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin and Florida-based incubator, XL Vision, announced today that they will work together to launch a medical diagnostic company utilizing technologies licensed from the university, and targeted at diagnostic testing for a variety of health conditions in animals and humans. The test is designed to yield nearly instantaneous results, at home or in the field.
The new company is formed by privately owned XL Vision, Inc., a Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE) and ïincuVestÌ ó partnership company, that combines business incubation and technology innovation to create highly differentiated companies with significant commercial value. The name of the new company has not yet been determined.
“After nine months of extensive research using the combined resources of XL Vision and UT Austin, we have the opportunity to create a company that will address the huge disposable and in-home diagnostic market need,” said John Scott, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive of XL Vision.
“XL Vision was chosen for this opportunity because of its unique approach to creating and incubating companies that combine technology with innovation,” said Dr. Juan Sanchez, UT Austin vice president for research. “Furthermore, XL Vision has a proven track record of creating significant shareholder value. This is the first time we felt comfortable enough to sign a deal whose value rests principally upon the university taking an equity stake in a company.”
The equity sharing terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed. However, XL Vision has acknowledged the commitment of an additional $1.3 million in a sponsored research agreement with UT Austin, which has previously entered into licensing agreements with major corporations, with royalty fees being the primary means of compensation received by the university.
“XL VisionÌs involvement and resources will be used as a springboard for the basic research effort and education mission at UT Austin, relative to some exciting new types of technology,” said Dr. John T. McDevitt, a professor in the UT Austin department of chemistry and biochemistry and a member of the research team that developed the cutting-edge technology. The team includes Dr. Eric Anslyn, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry; electrical and computer engineering professor Dr. Dean Neikirk; Dr. Jason B. Shear, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry; and McDevitt. Damon Borich, MD, a former UT student, also collaborated in developing the technology. He has been hired by XL Vision to become Chief Medical Officer for the newly formed company.
The sensor technology’s high degree of versatility makes it suitable for measuring and analyzing solutions containing a wide range of biological and nonbiological chemicals including toxins, drugs, metabolites, bacteria and blood products. McDevitt explained that the technology uses a large number of miniaturized cavities that are created within a silicon wafer. “These ultra-small ïtest tubeÌ like structures, prepared at UT Austin’s Microelectronics Research Center clean room, serve as highly miniaturized measuring devices that can detect in detail the content of complex fluids,” McDevitt said.
As part of XL VisionÌs business model, they will be providing not only capital, but also a dedicated team of seasoned entrepreneurs led by XL VisionÌs Mike Otworth, who will act as CEO on an interim basis, and will manage the company during the critical early strategic growth stage. During this period, the business and technical team will execute a strategy that will combine a multi-analyte platform (up to 100 simultaneous tests) with services, to a novel comprehensive low-cost solution.
“This partnership is about much more than providing office space and service support,” Otworth said. “ItÌs about combining the top-notch expertise of some of the country’s leading academic researchers with the unique approach of building a differentiated business that can sustain its competitive position over the long term.”
In addition to offices in Sebastian, the new company is upgrading an existing 12,000- square -foot facility in Austin, where it expects to house an initial 25-40 employees. The company has expansion plans that potentially call for hiring as many as 200 employees over the next two years. Spokesmen for the company said the new Austin facility also would be used for other XL Vision-related business ventures in the area.
About XL Vision ¬-
XL Vision is a unique incubator whose business is to identify and create highly differentiated technology business using its proven incubation processes with the ultimate goal of taking the company through an Initial Public Offering. In the last four years, XL Vision has created and incubated four other companies ¬ emerge Interactive (NASDAQ:EMRG), ChromaVision Medical Systems (NASDAQ:CVSN), Who? Vision Systems and Presideo, Inc
About Safeguard Scientifics —
Safeguard is a leader in identifying and operating premier developing technology companies in the Internet Infrastructure market.
About incuVest —
incuVest is creating a worldwide network of sector-focused Incuvators ó, where technical innovations are cultivated into market-leading public companies.