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Annual Investment Forum Stands as Catalyst for Industry Growth

by Alexis Ellsworth | Jul 19, 2017

Presenting companies have raised more than $270M

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The KC Animal Health Corridor Investment Forum showcases the latest in industry innovation and groundbreaking technologies on the world’s stage. Now in its ninth year, the event has proven it’s not only a platform for publicity, it’s also helped springboard startups to lasting success.

“Since Mazen Animal Health presented at the 2016 Investment Forum, we’ve not only raised awareness but have been able to get money in the door and now are on our way to developing the first vaccine,” said Jenny Filbey, CEO of Mazen Animal Health, a company that is reinventing disease prevention through the development of oral vaccines.

The Investment Forum a year before was Filbey’s first visit Kansas City and the company’s entry into the Corridor. The experience led Filbey to relocate Mazen’s headquarters to St. Joseph, giving the company access to the top regulatory, manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution experts in the world. And since presenting, the company has raised close to half a million dollars. 

Mazen is just one of the 325 companies that have applied to compete in the forum. Companies presenting at the first eight Investment Forums have raised more than $270 million and several more have benefitted from licensing agreements and distribution contracts. 

“In many cases, small companies are where new innovation comes from and this is really a place where you see them showcased,” said Karthik Ramachandran, VP and Co-Founder of Likarda, a market leader in cell-based therapy for pets and emcee of the 2017 Investment Forum. “The forum is a unique chance to meet investors, network, and find mentors, advisors and potential partners. It gives entrepreneurs real resources they need to make their dreams reality.”

This year, 18 animal health companies from around the world were selected to showcase their ideas from a highly competitive group of applicants. Innovations focus on global issues facing the animal health industry, including improving the fertility of cattle to help solve world hunger; developing a molecular diagnostic platform to monitor livestock health without the need for invasive sampling; developing breakthrough treatments for cancer in animals; environmentally-conscious technology that converts waste heat and moisture to energy; and advances for companion animals, including products that fight obesity and a computer for dogs.

Sam Al-Murrani of Babylon Bioconsulting and interim CEO of Prommune, Inc., says the people in the room make the Investment Forum unlike any other event. Prommune, producer of swine and avian influenza vaccines, competed at the 2013 forum.

“The beauty of the Investment Forum is you meet all the people that matter,” Al-Murrani said. “The top 10 animal health companies, regional players from China, India, Korea, Japan, companies looking to expand portfolio of products. The beauty of how it’s designed is that it keeps growing.”

Al-Murrani has served many roles for the forum, including as selection committee member, judging panel member, and coach.  He helped see Prommune through its entire Investment Forum process.

“Beyond funding, the Investment Forum is a huge opportunity to be advertised and to form strategic partnerships,” Al-Murrani said. “You are able to reach anybody and everybody involved in animal health in the world. You can put your company in front of everyone that matters, all in one shot.”

Filbey said Al-Murrani was one of a great group of coaches the KC Animal Health Corridor provided to help contestants prepare, hone their Investment Forum pitches and clarify their messages. She said the insights and current market knowledge she gained at the forum are tremendously helpful and position entrepreneurs for future success.

Investment Forum presenters have 15 minutes to present their ideas in a Shark Tank format with millions of dollars on the table. Presenting companies are seeking $500,000 to $20 million in funding and have revenue projections of $20 million within five to seven years. Other recent success stories include FitBark, Inc.; AGL; Medgene Labs; Elias Animal Health; Prairie AquaTech; VetDC, Inc.; Jaguar Animal Health, and Nexvet Biopharma.

The forum is set for 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, August 29, at the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom, 301 W. 13th St., in Kansas City, Mo. Get your tickets today at http://kcanimalhealth.thinkkc.com/events/investment-forum. 

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