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July 09, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Orion Therapeutics receives a total of $300,000 in funding with new investment from the UT Research Foundation

The latest announcement follows last week's about Launch Tennessee making a capital commitment from the $70-million “InvestTN” fund.

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation‘s (UTRF) Accelerate Fund made its first investment in Orion Therapeutics, a biotechnology start-up developing next-generation RNA medicines using a novel drug delivery system. UTRF joined with Launch Tennessee to co-invest, each contributing $150,000 of pre seed capital. The latter’s investment was announced last week (see article here).

The start-up, which we first spotlighted nearly two years ago when it was selected to join the prestigious MassBioDrive accelerator program as a member of the 2022 cohort, was most recently a finalist for the PYA-sponsored “Ballard Innovation Award.” Orion Therapeutics also won the 2023 edition of Life Science Tennessee’s “Venture Forum.”   

Launched in 2023, the Accelerate Fund provides funding opportunities to help viable start-ups bring more UT innovations to the world. Managed by UTRF, the fund is uniquely positioned to assess new ventures created from UT innovations. Licensing professionals help identify opportunities, and the Investment Advisory Committee makes investment recommendations. Its portfolio spans several industries, including mobility and human health.

“Accelerate Fund’s mission is to invest in great UT innovations. We invest in good companies across the country that other investors will want to follow. We’ve been working with Orion Therapeutics and Trey Fisher for many years. This investment is the latest chapter in our long-standing partnership,” said UTRF President Maha Krishnamurthy. “I want to thank Launch Tennessee for partnering with us on this investment and the Investment Advisory Committee members for their guidance and feedback during the evaluation and investment process.”

The idea for Orion Therapeutics originated at the UT Graduate School of Medicine, where the foundational technology enabled the development of a novel gene therapy for vascular disease. Orion has since developed GENESYSTM, a unique LNP delivery platform that incorporates bioinspired lipopeptides to package, protect, and precisely deliver RNA drug payloads to previously inaccessible areas of the body. This innovative approach aims to transform the development of next-generation RNA medicines, addressing unmet medical needs with enhanced precision and safety.

“I wanted to grow this company in East Tennessee. UTRF, Launch Tennessee, and many other regional partners have made this possible. From UTRF’s initial support protecting our core technology to Launch Tennessee’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) matching funds, we have received so much support,” said Fisher, Orion Therapeutics Chief Executive Officer and Founder. “I cherish our relationship with UTRF. We’ve worked with the organization for a decade—initially as an inventor and now as the first investment from UTRF’s Accelerate Fund. I wear this current development as a badge of honor.”

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