A new Cold Spring Harbor biotech company started by a Stony Brook University graduate has received $2 million in venture capital funding, one of 69 metro-area companies to receive money from investors in the first quarter, according to a new report.
Mirimus Inc., which provides genetically engineered mice for laboratory and clinical-trial studies of disease, received the award, according to the MoneyTree Report, which is published by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
The start-up was the first Long Island company to obtain venture capital funding since the second quarter of last year, when three companies received a total of $6.3 million.
Prem Premsrirut, 30, who received her PhD in genetics last year from Stony Brook, is president of the company, which is based at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and has three employees, she said. She did research at the lab from 2005 to 2010.
She said of the award, "I think it was a great thing to happen because the technologies are exciting, and I think investors really picked up on it quickly and saw that this is something that could be successful."
The company will use the funds to commercialize technology licensed from the lab, she said. The company's objective is to understand disease by manipulating genes, something that will help pharmaceutical companies develop the best remedies.
"Our way is to advance the drug discovery process," she said.
Local business advocates have long pushed for the commercialization of tech know-how on Long Island as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Mirimus could well follow in the footsteps of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was born of research at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and last year was purchased by Astellas Pharma of Japan for $4 billion.
But Long Island will have to do more to attract venture capital, according to the report.
"The region still needs to concentrate on gaining the confidence of the broader venture community," said David Silverman, managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' metropolitan area emerging-company practice. "The region has many great attributes that should be attractive to the venture community, including educational institutions and a large supply of talent; however Long Island needs to do a better job of promoting this to potential investors. This can only be done with cooperation with municipal government and business leaders."
All told, the 69 metropolitan area companies received $580 million in venture-capital funding, up about 2.4 percent from the year before and up 6 percent from the fourth quarter.