Named MI 50 Company to Watch
Federal grants & loans received
Licensing agreement from Merck & Co
When Pfizer, Inc. – an American global pharmaceutical corporation headquartered in New York City, NY – decided to move the bulk of its research and development activity out of Kalamazoo in 2003 it left many scientists without jobs. Two of those scientists, Dr. Ake Elhammer and Dr. Jerry Slightom, decided to pursue their own research and launched AureoGen Biosciences in August of that year. Being scientists who were used to working behind the scenes they had to quickly learn the day to day components of managing and growing a business
How the SBDC helped
In 2003, Dr. Ake Elhammer began working closely with a MI-SBDC Technology Commercialization Consultant to develop the company's business plan, operational strategy, and financial model. Being a scientist by trade, this support helped him to quickly learn the core components of "how a business was supposed to work." Over the course of 13 years, the MI-SBDC Tech Team consultants introduced him to several funding opportunities that resulted in the company securing over $8 million in Federal grants and loans.
In addition to securing millions in grants and loans, AueroGen was named one of Michigan 50 Companies to Watch in 2009 and received the Best Technology of the Year Award in 2008 from the Michigan New Enterprise Forum. Most recently, the company entered into a licensing deal with Merck & Co., an American pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
In 2016, AureoGen secured a license agreement with Merck & Co. The American pharmaceutical company, one of the largest in the world, will have exclusive rights to use the chemistry and derivatives of an antifungal compound developed by AureoGen to produce a broad spectrum antibiotic to treat infectious diseases, including systemic fungal infections which tend to affect people with a compromised immune system.
"The marketplace has been asking for a broad spectrum antibiotic that would work for all fungal infections," said Dr. Ake Elhammer, Founder and CEO of AureoGen Biosciences. "With this compound we have managed to solve a problem that has plagued the industry for some time."
Dr. Elhammer began researching this natural-product compound in the late 1990's while a scientist at Pfizer, Inc. After Pfizer moved their research and development activity out of Kalamazoo, he and his business partner – Dr. Jerry Slightom – launched AureoGen to further research, develop, and modify the compound in order to create the broad spectrum drug compound.
Dr. Elhammer has worked with several MI-SBDC Tech Team consultants. Through them, he has been introduced to a variety of funding avenues, including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Western Michigan University (WMU) Bioscience Research and Commercialization Center (BRCC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Michigan Tri-Technology Corridor (MTTC), and National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Advanced Technology Program (NIST/ATP). In total, the company has secured over $8 million in Federal grants and loans.
"I appreciated the encouragement from Sandra and Barry to get started and the connections to make it happen," shared Dr. Elhammer. "John added the business component to the mix which allowed me to get a feel for how business was supposed to work."
The company holds six patents and has completed the initial research on other antibiotics. In the future, Dr. Elhammer envisions partnering with investors to be able to carry projects further into development and past the pre-clinical trials.