(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third and final article in a series spotlighting the life-long journey of Nashville Entrepreneur Shawn Glinter, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pendant Biosciences Inc.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Shawn Glinter tried the hospital administration route when he returned to Nashville, but always felt somewhat constrained in that role. After all, he had been an entrepreneur in one way or another for decades.
“I read an article about how nanotechnology was going to revolutionize medicine,” he told us. “I talked with about 30 wealthy dudes in Nashville about it. Their response was, ‘We don’t do pharma or biotech.’ Everyone said develop a product that you can sell to a hospital.”
So, Glinter shelved the idea in 2002 and decided to work with other entrepreneurs on their start-ups. Over the next decade, he helped with six or seven ideas that resulted in four companies getting launched and three being sold. His first was PreMedics, a company focused on public access to defibrillators.
During that period, he also worked as a mentor, starting with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC). “I was the second Mentor at the Center,” he explained, adding that he met Michael Burcham, NEC’s inaugural leader, soon after arriving in the city.
More recently, Glinter said, “I got the (entrepreneurial) itch again; I decided I was going to revisit the nanotechnology possibility.” By this time, he had also helped raise capital for other start-ups and had some of his own that he could invest in a new venture.
“I put together a team of a dozen people . . . 10 Ph.Ds. and two MDs,” Glinter explained. “I asked them to answer where does nano fit in therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics?” That said, he added, “I did not want to raise money around a therapeutic or medical device. I was most interested in where are the opportunities in Nanomedicine for extended release formulations.”
As he looked for technology to license, Glinter investigated 11 universities with the decision coming down to MIT and Vanderbilt. He selected the latter, becoming the first start-up launched with a license from Vanderbilt under Alan Bentley’s tenue as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Transfer and Commercialization.
That company, named Pendant Biosciences Inc., (formerly Nanoferix, Inc) is an advanced materials company developing innovative drug delivery technologies and surface coatings using a unique, polymer-based platform. The company is initially focused on applications to help big pharma address formulation challenges for extended release with therapeutics. The second shot on goal is within the orthopedic market, and its lead product candidate is a surface modification intended to reduce the risk of infection associated with certain orthopedic implants. The platform also serves as a product engine with broad utility in multiple therapeutic areas.
“We’ve raised $6 million in angel funds,” Glinter says of the company launched in April 2012. His Co-Founder and Vice President for R&D is Eric Elmquist, another well-known player in the life science sector.
More recently, Pendant Biosciences has been accepted into Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS Program. “That has really helped our trajectory,” Glinter says. The company now has a 12-person team.
The start-up’s Co-Founder continues to be a Mentor, even as he is growing his company. That’s really Glinter’s life-story . . . one of helping others. He’s an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Vanderbilt’s The Wond’ry and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. We also serve together on the Boards of Directors of both Launch Tennessee and Life Science Tennessee.
“It’s the hardest start-up I’ve ever done, but one with the most impact on patient care,” Glinter says in describing Pendant Biosciences. For the tenacious, energetic, passionate Entrepreneur, toughness is just part of his DNA. When you consider the journey that he started years ago coming out of the stands to help an injured volleyball player years ago, clearly patient care and greater outcomes are what his calling in life is all about.