Statewide: Triad region, December 2015

 In 2015-12

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Wake’s latest take

Converting scientific research into a full-fledged company takes money, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has secured one of North Carolina’s most successful investment groups to propel its scientists through the process. Durham-based Pappas Capital will infuse $15 million into Wake Forest Innovations to bring technology developed by hospital researchers and faculty from idea to commercial product. About 100 pieces of technology based on findings from the Winston-Salem-based medical center have been brought to market since the innovations division was started in 2012. Its most successful product dates back to the 1990s, when the wound Vacuum-Assisted Closure — used to treat injuries once considered beyond care — was licensed in the early 1990s to San Antonio, Texas-based Kinetic Concepts. Now called Acelity, the company is paying Wake Forest $280 million in royalties through 2017.

The medical center has also made a name for itself over the last decade in the field of regenerative medicine, which allows scientists to grow living cells and tissues to heal and replace damaged ones. Wake Forest was the first to engineer lab-grown organs implanted into humans. Other projects in various stages of development include vaccines, medical devices, diagnostic tests and digital technologies including medical apps. “We have a hopper full of ideas,” says Eric Tomlinson, chief innovation officer of the medical center.

So far, Wake Forest Innovations has been driven by a small internal fund. The new capital will help connect researchers with Pappas’ network of life-sciences companies and foundations. Managing Partner Art Pappas, a former Glaxo executive, has helped develop more than 70 companies since 1994. The medical center expects to help fund 25 projects, about half of which should be successful enough to license their product or technology to another company, Tomlinson says. Perhaps two or three could develop into independent businesses, he says.

The long-term goal is for Winston-Salem to catch up with the Raleigh-Durham area’s burgeoning life-sciences industry. The $15 million investment should be a catalyst to attract quality faculty and grow downtown’s Innovation Quarter, now home to about 50 companies.


Briefs

GREENSBOROThe Fresh Market is conducting a strategic review that could result in the sale of the company. The gourmet grocery chain based here has retained J.P. Morgan Securities as its adviser. Started in 1982, The Fresh Market has 178 stores in 27 states, including 21 in North Carolina.

ADVANCEAshley Furniture Industries will add 454 jobs over five years and invest $8.7 million in its manufacturing and distribution operation. The Arcadia, Wis.-based company, which has created more than 1,100 jobs since opening here in 2012, could receive state grants of up to $4.6 million if it meets various targets.

GREENSBORO — Hornets Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, will operate a D-League team here beginning in 2016. The team will play 24 home games at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Steve Swetoha, president of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock team for the last six years, will be president.

WINSTON-SALEMBB&T added Bennett Bradley, president of its payment solutions division, and David Weaver, who oversees nine community bank regions, to its executive management team. Bradley, 53, also will become chief digital officer. BB&T has about $208.8 billion in assets and operates 2,150 branches in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

GREENSBORO — Multi-Color will close its label-printing business, idling 66 employees. The Ohio-based company produces labels for various beverages, personal-care products and home and auto-care products.

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