Fresh off a $7 million round of Series A financing, Richard Woodward says without hesitation that the company he co-founded, Vascular Magnetics
, would not exist without the first-of-its-kind QED Proof of Concept Funding Program
at the University City Science Center
A veteran executive from the biotech sector with extensive startup and early stage experience, Woodward was semi-retired and consulting in 2009 when he learned about the QED program, which assesses white papers on promising technologies and links the best with a business advisor and the possibility of funding. In the case of Vascular Magnetics, Woodward was paired with Dr. Robert J. Levy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
and they were awarded $200,000 by the QED program in 2010. The result was CHOP’s first spin-out company, focused on developing its proprietary, magnetically targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
“I was joking with my wife that this would have been a whole lot easier when I was 40,” Woodward says. “She said that when I was 40, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to do.”
In one respect, Woodward has come full circle with CHOP. His daughter had a medical condition that incapacitated her for her a couple years and a physician from CHOP helped contain the ailment, allowing Woodward’s daughter to pursue a career working for another children’s hospital.
“Dr. Levy, I have so much respect for that man,” says Woodward, the COO, of the company’s founding scientist. “He’s brilliant and a very prolific inventor, with something on the order of 31 issued patents. He probably has another 30 in various stages of the application process.
“It’s fairly rare to find an academic like that.”
The entire Series A round was funded by Wayne-based Devon Park Bioventures
, whose general partners Christopher Moller and Marc Ostro will join the Vascular Magnetics board and rounds out a compelling case study of the potential of Greater Philadelphia's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Funds will allow the company to complete clinical trials, which are expected to begin in 2014. While the company will stay “aggressively virtual,” according to Woodward, there’s a good chance it will hire up to two more individuals. Also, the company is planning on maintaining workspace in the Science Center’s Port Business Incubator
PAD effects about 30 million in Europe and North America, including 10 million in the U.S. Vascular Magnetics’ system aims to provide a more durable and effective treatment than angioplasty, grafts and drug eluting stents. It does this by combining biodegradeable, magnetic drug-loaded particles, a magnetic targeting catheter and an external device for creating a uniform magnetic field.
Woodward says some of Levy’s team at CHOP will be involved as consultants.
“These are some of the people that have developed the whole system. It’s important to have them around.”
: Joe Petrucci
: Richard Woodward, Vascular Magnetics
Photos courtesy of Vascular Magnetics
Dr. Robert Levy