Winner of the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund’s Inaugural Women’s Venture Competition Announced

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Privo Technologies to Receive $900,000 of Investment Funding

Privo Technologies and its chief executive officer, Manijeh Goldberg, Ph.D., have been selected as the winner of the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund’s inaugural Women’s Venture Competition, a first of its kind program for female entrepreneurs starting oncology companies.

Privo Technologies has developed a nano-engineered platform for redesigning the mechanism of action of potent cancer medicines. The company was selected from among 47 female-led oncology start-ups following rigorous review and evaluation by three blue ribbon committees. As a result, Privo Technologies has received investment totaling $900,000—$300,000 from AIM-HI and matching investments from two supporters of the Women’s Venture Competition.

According to the Association for Women in Science, women-led biotech start-ups have received less than 15% of angel funding and only 2% of venture capital. AIM-HI’s Women’s Venture Competition was launched in order to address this unmet need and provide critical seed capital and advisory and networking opportunities to early stage oncology technology companies led by women.

“The AIM-HI Women’s Venture Competition is making a real difference in funding research and innovative cancer treatments by women scientists—breakthrough cancer treatments,” stressed Dr. Goldberg. “I am honored to have been selected as the program’s inaugural winner and believe that AIM-HI and its investment in Privo Technologies will provide a critical endorsement of our technology and reassure others seeking to invest in new and innovative cancer therapies.”

“New treatments for cancer represent some of the most challenging scientific and business problems today, and we need a diversity of minds and a variety of life experiences to overcome them,” noted Pamela Garzone, Ph.D., chief medical officer of Calibr at Scripps Research and co-chair of the Women’s Venture Competition selection committee. “This AIM-HI program provides female women entrepreneurs with the network and opportunity to present their technologies and business plans and receive financing—and it’s very gratifying as a woman scientist myself to support this initiative.”

“Women are well represented in classroom, laboratory and clinical positions, but there’s a dearth of female leaders among life sciences companies,” stated Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., professor at the Harvard Medical School and co-chair of the Women’s Venture Competition judging committee. “Our goal has been for the Women’s Venture Competition to not only provide critically needed investment but also valuable insights to the participating companies from thought leaders, business executives and biotech investors.”

“The Women’s Venture Competition differentiates the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund from other organizations—non-profit or otherwise—especially with its vast network of renowned experts who are willing to be advisors, evaluators and performers of due diligence,” expressed Jimmy Lu, senior partner of WI Harper Group and chair of the Women’s Venture Competition investment committee. “AIM-HI is well-positioned to have a major influence in the cancer technology start-up community and, in particular, among female-founded companies.”

“Too few medical breakthroughs and innovative technologies ever become new treatments due to lack of funding for early stage companies deemed too risky for traditional venture capital or biopharmaceutical firms to invest in,” said Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., founder and CEO of AIM-HI. “It is more challenging for women-led companies to get funded.”

“We established the Women’s Venture Competition with a goal of supporting women-led life-saving start-ups through venture philanthropy partnerships and providing these companies with valuable access to key opinion leaders,” continued Dr. Ba. “This combination of funding, insightful feedback from life sciences industry figures, increased visibility and credibility, and opportunity to tap into so extensive a global network is highly unique and impactful.”

The National Foundation for Cancer Research and Asian Fund for Cancer Research are founding partners of the Women’s Venture Competition. Inaugural sponsors were Microsoft, Scripps Research, Dorsey & Whitney, Incubate Coalition, GoMo Health, New Enterprise Associates, Samsara BioCapital, BLA Regulatory and Springboard Enterprises. Applications open on March 1, 2021, for the next iteration of the program, the winner of which will receive a total of $1 million in investment led by AIM-HI.

About the Women’s Venture Competition
The Women's Venture Competition is a first-of-its-kind program that provides funding, coaching and networking opportunities to women-led oncology start-ups. The winner receives investment from the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund to generate critical data for proof of concept and proof of value on the path to clinical trials and, eventually, to new effective technologies that could save cancer patients' lives. Three committees (selection, judging and investment), whose members are world-class key opinion leaders, life sciences industry experts, investors and entrepreneurs, provided assessments and recommendations for the investment from the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund. The committees are comprised of the following persons:

  • Joan Brugge, Ph.D., Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Cell Biology and Ludwig Center Director, Harvard Medical School
  • Webster Cavenee, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Alliances, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
  • Pamela Garzone, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Calibr at Scripps Research
  • Dimitra Georganopoulou, Ph.D., Innovation Faculty, MIT linQ CATALYST and Interim Chief Business Officer, MyGenome Rx
  • Marjorie Kaufman, CFA, MBA, Principal, Osprey Creek
  • Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Brian Leyland-Jones, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, AIM-HI Accelerator Fund
  • Jimmy Lu, J.D., MBA, Senior Partner, WI Harper Group
  • Tom Miller, Founder and Managing Partner, GreyBird Ventures
  • Amy Millman, President and Co-Founder, Springboard Enterprises
  • Patty Obermaier, Vice President for US Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft
  • Eifion Phillips, Ph.D., J.D., Patent Attorney
  • Marina Sirota, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of California San Francisco Institute for Computational Health Sciences
  • Ashim Subedee, Ph.D., Program Director, National Cancer Institute Small Business Innovation Research Development Center
  • Robert Tepper, M.D., Partner, Third Rock Ventures
  • Thea Tlsty, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, University of California San Francisco
  • Matt Tremblay, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Scripps Research
  • Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Chief Strategy Officer, National Foundation for Cancer Research
  • Rose Wang, MBA, Executive Advisor, AIM-HI Accelerator Fund
  • Barbara Weber, M.D., President and CEO, Tango Therapeutics
  • Yajun Xu, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Hongsen Capital

About the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund
The AIM-HI Accelerator Fund is a new paradigm through venture philanthropy to fund translational research and start-up oncology companies developing innovative laboratory breakthroughs into new therapies and technologies which could save cancer patients’ lives. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established with an initial grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research. For more information, visit https://www.aim-hiaccelerator.org.

About Privo Technologies
Privo Technologies, based in Peabody, Massachusetts, has developed a nano-engineered platform to redesign the mechanism of action of potent cancer medicines in unconventional ways, including via a topical patch. Its technology delivers and retains high concentrations of chemotherapy drugs at tumor sites and lymph nodes in order to maximize potency and minimize toxicity. For more information, visit https://www.privotechnologies.com.

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Bradley Gillenwater
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