Notes from Innovation Policyworks


What do Idexx, Athenahealth, and Oxford Networks all have in common? As we come out of the Great Recession, they are all making big investments in growing their companies and adding jobs. What else do they all have in common? They are all innovation-based companies - just like we've been saying for years. These are the kinds of companies that will lead Maine's economy.



JOBS Act signed by President Obama


The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act designed to help small businesses raise capital was signed last week after passing the Congress on a 73-26 Senate vote and 380-41 in the House, a rare bipartisan moment. 


The bill has two major elements that are drawing both applause and criticism. Crowdfunding is now allowed under this bill, as a tax exemption allows potential investors to put up to $10,000 or 10 percent of their annual income into a deal. Startups can raise up to $1 million this way without having to do a public offering. This will enable the funding of small businesses through websites such as Kickstarter. 


A second provision allows emerging growth companies (defined as less than $1 billion in revenue) to be held to a lower bar in terms of reporting, such as complying with all the accounting rules required of public companies. Companies that would fit into this criterion include LinkedIn, Zipcar, Pandora and Orbitz. Critics of this provision warn that this could seriously harm shareholders. Securities laws, many dating back to the 1930s, are designed to protect unsophisticated investors from taking risks they don't understand.


US Supreme Court Decision Imperils Some Biotech Patents


The U.S. Supreme Court recently unanimously declared a company's patents on a medical-testing process invalid, a decision that could affect the patentability of countless numbers of life-sciences inventions developed at universities and other research institutions.


Patent claims that merely describe natural phenomena are not patent-eligible, the court said, and the diagnostic procedure outlined in the patents at stake in the case "adds nothing to the laws of nature that is not already present when the steps are considered separately."


While some patent-law experts and the Biotechnology Industry Organization were quick to paint the decision as a major setback to the burgeoning industry based on "personal medicine," others were thought that the breadth of some patents might be lessened, and noted that researchers will have to figure out what additional features will be necessary to produce a patent-eligible invention. 


Angels Come Back to Life


Angel investors are continuing to open their wallets again, according to the annual UNH report. Total investments by angels in 2012 were $22.5 billion, a 12.1 percent increase over 2010. Angels invested in 7.3 percent more deals in 2011 for a total of 66,230 investments by 318,480 individuals. The number of active investors is up 20 percent. Maine Angels, the Portland-based angel investment group, recently announced an investment in Orono-based Cerahelix.

What Has the CIA Done for You Lately?


Did you know that the CIA has a venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, that invests in cutting edge commercial technologies for use by the intelligence community? For instance, 

  • An investment in MetaCarta, a geographic search firm. Meta Carta was acquired by Nokia in 2010 and serves as the basis for Nokia Maps and search capabilities on Nokia smart phones. 
  • An investment in Keyhole's interactive 3_d earth-mapping software led to an acquisition by Google and become Google Earth. 
  • An investment in ThingMagic, a RFID tracking technology led to an acquisition by Trimble, the GPS company, for construction, agriculture and mobile workforce applications.
In This Issue
Biotech Patents
Angels Come Back to Life
CIA Technology

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To Oxford Networks, Lewiston, on raising $4.8 million to launch a secure data center. A previous capital raise enabled Oxford to invest in Resilient Tier-V, and now, together, the companies will open the data center in a secure facility at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. 



To Idexx Laboratories Inc. in Westbrook, who recently broke ground for a $35 million expansion. The new 107,700-square-foot, energy-efficient administrative building will provide space to support up to 300 new employees.

To Athenahealth
, a leading provider of cloud-based services for physicians, for their announcement of the addition of 65-80 new jobs at their facility in Belfast, ME.  


To Bar Harbor Biotechnology (BHB), Trenton, who has raised $200,000 in new capital from the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, Maine Technology Institute and a number of private investors. 


In other news, the company, a developer of genetic risk assessment testing announced a relationship with Clinical Reference Laboratory, Inc. (CRL), provider of laboratory testing services in molecular diagnostics and clinical trials. The first project under the new agreement will be the continued development of BHB's new genetic-based risk assessment test for colorectal cancer.


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96 Maine Street, Suite 183 Brunswick, ME 04011 207.522.9028
Innovation Policyworks, LLC, is an innovation strategy and evaluation firm focused on the development and measurement of effective state and regional technology-based policies and programs. Dr. Catherine S. Renault has been delivering innovation-based economic development results in rural states for over 20 years. She has been a technology-based economic development practitioner in two states and consulted with many more, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine.   For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.  Starting this week, Dr. Renault is helping the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development  (MCED) with the Top Gun program and other operational matters while the search for a full-time Operations Manager continues.