TechNation: Vidac Raises $9 Million for Trials of Skin Cancer Treatment

TechNation: Accelerators launched to help women, Arabs start up companies; Monsanto licenses TargetGene technology; U.S. ag-tech fund Radicle will invest in Israel.

Vidac raises $9 million for trials of skin cancer treatment

Vidac Pharma, a Jerusalem-based startup developing small-molecule therapeutics to treat cancer, announced Wednesday it has raised $9 million from investors led by Israel Biotech Fund. Existing investors, including Mivtach Shamir Holdings, also joined the financing. Vidac said it would use the proceeds to advance the development of its lead product, VDA-1102 ointment, which is in Phase II clinical trial for patients with actinic keratosis, one of the world’s most common dermatologic conditions. Caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, AK affects an estimated 58 million people in the United States alone, with estimated treatment costs of $1.2 billion in 2004. Vidac’s technology targets the cancer-specific VDAC/HK2 system without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue. Israel Biotech named two directors to Vidac’s board, including Dr. Robert Spiegel, former chief medical officer and senior vice president of the Schering-Plough Research Institute. (Yoram Gabison) 

Accelerators launched to help women, Arabs start up companies

Kangaroo, an accelerator designed to help groups underrepresented in the Israeli high-tech scene to start up companies, was launched this week. The accelerator will be aimed at women, Arabs, Druze and Ethiopians as well as people from the country's periphery. Kangaroo will be operated by KamaTech, which has developed a model to help Haredi entrepreneurs. John Chambers, chairman of the U.S.-based Cisco Systems, presented a grant to help support the program on Monday while visiting Israel. Cisco didn’t disclose the sum of the grant. The first group of entrepreneurs will begin the program later this year. Following the KamaTech model, they will be hosted for four months by a veteran tech company. “For a long time many entrepreneurs who aren’t Haredi have asked for help from the KamaTech accelerator, but until now we could help them,” said CEO Moshe Friedman. (Eliran Rubin)

Monsanto licenses TargetGene technology

Monsanto said on Wednesday it was licensing genome-editing technology from TargetGene Biotechnologies and taking an unspecified equity position in the Israeli startup. Describing them as the biological equivalent to the “search and replace” function in computer word processors, the U.S. agrochemical giant said technologies like TargetGene’s T-Gee platform will enable plant breeders to deliver better hybrids and varieties more efficiently. “Monsanto has conducted extensive research with various gene-editing approaches for years, and we believe access to TargetGene’s technology will help drive further precision and efficiency within the company’s robust plant breeding and biotechnology pipelines,” said Monsanto’s biotechnology team leader, Tom Adams. Based in Rehovot, TargetGene was formed in 2012 by Yoel Shiboleth and Dan Weinthal. In addition, Monsanto reached a license agreement with Germany’s Nomad Bioscience GmbH under which Monsanto gets rights to apply Nomad’s proprietary technology to its genome-editing project. (TheMarker Staff)

U.S. ag-tech fund Radicle will invest in Israel

Radicle, a U.S.-based accelerator fund dedicated to supporting early-stage agricultural technology startups that was launched last week, will be investing in Israeli companies, the Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd said on Wednesday. With $6 million in initial closing commitments, Radicle aims to have $15 million under management to invest in startups focused on genomics and plant sciences, seed tech, biologicals for crop protection and regulation, data and predictive analytics, and “disruptive” farm systems. The fund was launched in partnership with Finistere Ventures, Cloud Break Advisors and an alliance of top agricultural industry leaders, including Bayer and DuPont, Our Crowd said. OurCrowd’s ag-tech portfolio includes EdenShield, a non-toxic chemical application that protects crops from pest damage, and CropX, a software-driven smart irrigation system, in which it invested together with Finistere Ventures. (TheMarker Staff)