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Gemneo Executives at Biodesign Institute

Gemneo Bioscience receives entrepreneurship award from Flinn Foundation

By

Ben N. Petersen

Gemneo Bioscience, a genomics technology company seeking to revolutionize diagnosis and treatment for cancer and other diseases, was named last week as one of six Arizona bioscience startup firms that will participate in the Flinn Foundation’s 2018 Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program.

Gemneo will receive $30,000 in funding support and program services through a nonprofit partner. The company was selected from 30 applicants, a record for the program.

“The six companies chosen this year are further evidence of the amazing innovation that is occurring in the biosciences here in Arizona,” said Tammy McLeod, Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “The leaders of these companies demonstrate both the talent and entrepreneurial spirit to bring new technologies to market that will improve and save lives.”

Gemneo is the result of a five-year, multimillion-dollar research journey to bring new single-cell genomics technology to market. Led by Joseph Blattman, an immunology researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and associate professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences, Gemneo’s platform technology can be used to profile an individual’s cancer genomics and identify rare cells that influence disease progression that current technologies are not able to detect. The technology will give physicians a more precise tool for effectively treating cancer and a host of other diseases. Gemneo research partners include Hao Yan and Louis Schoettle, both researchers at the Biodesign Institute.

“The Gemneo team is extremely grateful to the Flinn Foundation for their support,” said Anil Shrikhande, Gemneo’s chief executive officer and executive-in-residence for ASU’s Startup Program. “Their support comes at an opportune time as we seek to operationalize Gemneo and bring our first product to market.”

“Gemneo truly embodies the way we like to work at the Biodesign Institute,” said Blattman, Gemneo’s chief scientific officer. “Our goal is to quickly link our scientific discoveries to creating better tools for diagnosing and treating disease. Our first product will be instrumental in decoding the human immune system in a way that will lead to better ways to treat cancer and infectious diseases.”  

“We have developed an open collaborative model that will be driven by speed to market and multiple academic and industry collaborations,” said Gavin Chandler, Gemneo’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. “Our goals are to reduce research costs, enhance productivity and, ultimately, bring new diagnostics and therapies to market for better patient outcomes.”

ASU’s 100th spinout company, Gemneo is taking advantage of incubation space at ASU’s SkySong campus and the innovation ecosystem that ASU has established to facilitate faculty-led ventures. As a demonstration of a successful federally funded university research venture, Gemneo was selected to exhibit in Washington, D.C., at the National Academy of Sciences, and at the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase, sponsored by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Other winning companies, based in Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson, are Avery Therapeutics, GT Medical Technologies, TheraSpecs, TouchPoint Solution and Vapometry Biolabs.

The Flinn Foundation program was established to foster entrepreneurship and help early-stage bioscience companies develop into successful and sustainable businesses in Arizona. The Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation has allocated $825,000 in grants since 2014 to nonprofits to administer funding and services to 28 bioscience startups.

The Flinn Foundation is a privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization established in 1965 by Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations. In addition to advancing the biosciences, the foundation supports the Flinn Scholars Program, a merit-based college scholarship program; arts and culture; and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.