BrightStar invests in two Milwaukee medical startups

Cmxtwenty and GenoPalate get $150,000

Sherry Zhang of GenoPalate presents her company.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Milwaukee-based BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. has invested $150,000 in two startups with Medical College of Wisconsin ties.

Sherry Zhang of GenoPalate presents her company.

Wauwatosa-based Cytometix Inc., dba Cmxtwenty, received a $100,000 investment and Brookfield-based GenoPalate Inc. received a $50,000 investment.

Cmxtwenty is a pharmaceutical company developing a non-narcotic treatment for pain. The BrightStar investment is part of a larger funding round, the amount of which Cmxtwenty chief executive officer Lane Brodstrom declined to disclose. This is the company’s fifth funding round, he said.

“To date, we’ve raised more than $13 million, and it’s all been from angels,” Brodstrom said.

This new funding will be used to complete the current clinical study, expected to conclude in June, and begin business development. The clinical study is validating the intravenous formation of Cmxtwenty’s drug, which it has already tested in oral form.

“The intravenous and oral have the same essential chemistry in it, but in terms of demonstrating the highest analgesic level, the intravenous product is it,” he said.

After the study is complete, Cmxtwenty, which has four employees, will begin its business development work.

“We’re going to be talking to a lot of pharmaceutical companies with the idea of licensing this product or trying to achieve some sort of an acquisition of our company,” Brodstrom said. “We believe this particular clinical study will provide enough interest to make that happen.”

GenoPalate offers personalized nutrition recommendations to individuals via genomic sequencing. Founder Yi “Sherry” Zhang has a doctorate in molecular biology and was formerly an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

GenoPalate participated in Milwaukee startup accelerator gener8tor in the fall, and has been working to raise a $400,000 funding round. Zhang said she plans to use the funding for marketing and job creation, hiring three full-time interns for the summer.

“After a decade of research on how our genetics influence our metabolic health, my talented team and I are excited about bringing our science and technology to people’s daily lives for smart shopping and eating that can lead to their optimal health,” said Zhang. “We are recruiting, hiring and training talent for our high-tech health startup, and collaborating with Wisconsin-focused organizations like BrightStar will expedite this process.”

BrightStar Wisconsin also today released its 2017 annual report, which showed it made $5.9 million of investments in Wisconsin startups in 2017. The venture philanthropy organization now has $7.8 million in total assets.

According to BrightStar’s calculations, its investments have helped create 481 jobs.

“As we enter our fifth year of investing, we expect to see exits for some of our earlier class of companies, and thus returns for the portfolio,” said president and chief executive officer Tom Shannon in the report.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.