San Diego Business Journal

Avalon-GlaxoSmithKline Deal Results in 1st Startup, More Planned

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline PLC have launched their first company, Sitari Pharmaceuticals Inc., with a $10 million Series A financing from the companies’ $495 million joint funding alliance.

The unconventional Avalon-GSK deal was disclosed in April. Avalon, a La Jolla venture capital firm, has teamed up with the British pharmaceutical giant to fund up to 10 new biotech companies.

Avalon has also established COI Pharmaceuticals — “Community of Innovation” — that will house and provide operational support, as well as a fully equipped R&D facility and an experienced leadership team to support Sitari and other companies that will be created from the Avalon-GSK collaboration, the companies said in a statement.

“COI is a ‘Community of Innovation’ that provides an environment where entrepreneurial and scientific risks are encouraged and rewarded for life science inventors with bold ideas,” said Jay Lichter, CEO of COI and managing director of Avalon Ventures. “We are attracting and in-licensing innovative discoveries with significant potential for drug development and working with founding scientists to launch promising early-stage companies such as Sitari.”

Sitari will study autoimmune responses, focusing on celiac disease.

— Meghana Keshavan