Drug Development Startup Uses VAF Funding to Secure Patents


The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is tasked with supporting growth-oriented industries in Northern New Mexico. Businesses in the region benefit from close proximity to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and the area has become a hotbed of technological development.


Last year, NTxBIO emerged as a natural leader for the scientific community in Northern New Mexico. The RDC administers the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) program, aimed at supporting companies that are creating high-paying jobs and attracting revenue to the Northern New Mexico region. In 2016, NTxBIO was recognized as one of the VAF winners when the RDC acknowledged the company’s potential to accomplish both these goals.


NTxBio is a revolutionary drug-development company with a system the company has created that dramatically cuts the time it takes to identify and develop new drugs. Older methods can take up to eight years, but at NTxBio, the average time has been cut to a year and a half.

Structural biologist Alex Koglin and human biologist Michael Humberg co-founded NTxBio LLC in Los Alamos with an initial $500,000 in funding from local investors connected to High Desert Discovery District (HD3).


NTxBio’s founders were pushed in the VAF’s direction by HD3’s CEO and founder, Michelle Miller. HD3 is New Mexico’s first startup accelerator. It was founded in 2010 to commercialize and bring to market technology projects and to grow promising, highly-disruptive startups throughout the state. Miller keeps her ear to the ground when it comes to New Mexico startups, and when introduced to NTxBio, she saw real potential.


Miller has said that the innovative process developed by NTxBio could dramatically shorten the time it takes to develop new antibiotic drugs., That bottleneck has allowed drug-resistant bacteria to cripple efforts to control some diseases, such as deadly skin infections caused by the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.


NTxBio applied for VAF funding in order to secure and file patents at the U.S. patent office. Once granted, the funds were designated to help them establish their intellectual property program and get their first intellectual property filing.


“The VAF is the only funding of its kind in this region,” Miller said. “It’s a valuable asset to an early-stage company and it fits a certain niche of that kind of early financing.”


The VAF is the only program in Northern New Mexico that provides seed money for early-stage technology startups and growth-oriented business who lack the collateral for debt financing. Funded primarily by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the VAF has assisted Northern New Mexico businesses at critical junctures since its inception in 2006. The VAF receives additional funding support from Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe Economic Development and New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).


As far as other companies thinking about applying for VAF funding, Miller offers this advice: “Make sure you have a clear and concise business plan and a vision for where your company is going.”


Over the last ten years, VAF funding has often come at critical junctures for companies who have gone on to great success. For NTxBIO, it allowed them to hire their first employee–a major step. Moving forward, the RDC will continue to support this innovative technology company to ensure their path to growth remains clear.