Founder of new Atlanta angel investor network on why Georgia’s an up-and-coming life sciences hub

Georgia’s the life sciences hub you’ve never really thought about, or so says Russell Allen, a founder of the Bio/Med Investor Network, a new coalition of life science angels in Atlanta. The spanking-new network is looking for startups in the biomedical, medtech and health IT spaces. Allen presented the business case for attracting life sciences startups to Georgia: […]

Georgia’s the life sciences hub you’ve never really thought about, or so says Russell Allen, a founder of the Bio/Med Investor Network, a new coalition of life science angels in Atlanta. The spanking-new network is looking for startups in the biomedical, medtech and health IT spaces.

Allen presented the business case for attracting life sciences startups to Georgia:

“With the CDC and all the great research universities, the life sciences scene is surprisingly strong here,” he said. “There’s also a very strong business climate in the state – it’s relatively low cost and the tax policy attracts a number of companies because it’s good compared to much of the rest of the country.”

The new network plans to bankroll portfolio startups with between $200,000 and $2 million, though it’ll consider other dollar amounts if the situation’s right.

“We may screen 50 companies in a year, but using the averages we see from other groups, we think about 4 or 5 startups will receive investment,” said Allen, who is also president and CEO of the trade group Georgia Bio.

In the span of a month, the network banded together about 40 investors, Allen said, and it continues to get inquiries.

“We expect to be 75 members strong within the next couple of months,” he said.

The network is supported by Georgia Bio, the Georgia Research Alliance, and the state’s research universities like Emory, Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse School of Medicine. Despite the heavy focus on Georgia, the angels are open to invest in out-of-state startups.

“We’re here in Georgia, and at the onset we’ll see the majority of deals from Georgia, I’ve been receiving inquiries from California and Boston already,” Allen said.

There are other angel networks in Georgia, but none are solely focused on biotech and life sciences. And the existing networks didn’t much invest in life sciences, because it wasn’t their area of expertise, Allen said.

 

All of the investors have a healthcare background. Many are successful entrepreneurs or executives at biotech, device, pharma or digital health companies, and others are physicians or life science academicians, Allen said.

“Some of the more established angel networks require a minimum investment; we’re not requiring that because we have to prove ourselves,” Allen said.

Members have to pay nominal dues to keep the network up and running, but they have no specific investment requirements. But it’s your standard angel model – if two to five investors say they’re interested in a particular deal, they’ll pool their funds into an LLC and invest through that vehicle, Allen said.

The network’s joined the Angel Capital Association, and in the future plans to syndicate with other life sciences-geared angels around the country, he said.

The network’s still in absolute nascence, and hasn’t yet announced any portfolio companies. Its first investment screening will be March 5 this year. To attend the meeting, you have to apply by February 9th. Apply here.

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