Eleven Montana companies have been highlighted by the Montana BioScience Cluster Initiative and the Montana High Tech Business Alliance as 2020 Montana Biotech Companies to Watch.

The nominated companies are high-growth, high-potential businesses, many of which are doing innovative work to address unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Montana Biotech Companies to Watch include:

1. Ahana, Missoula— Although only a year old, Ahana is providing pediatric care for many Montana communities. This software and video-based platform allows patients to receive care during non-traditional hours.

2. VIRIS Detection Systems, Bozeman — Develop viral diagnostics using CRISPR-based technologies.

3. FYR Diagnostics, Missoula — Develop novel diagnostic tools for human and agricultural diseases.

4. Golden Helix, Bozeman — A bioinformatics company specializing in genomic data analysis. 

5. NanoValent Pharmaceuticals, Bozeman — Research and develop targeted nanosphere therapies for cancer treatments

6. PatientOne, Missoula — Develop virtual tools and operational remote monitoring technology for primary care.

7. PurCell Bio, Bozeman — Create supplements free from animal products that can replace blood products in cell culture.

8. Rocky Mountain Biologicals, Missoula — Manufacture cell culture media and protein fractions for pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries

9. SOLO-DEX, Wolf Creek — Designed an opioid-free catheter device for post-surgical pain relief

10. Swan Valley Medical, Bigfork — A mid-stage, privately held medical device company with a unique hospital solution using its patented T-SPeC® technology and advanced analytics to replace existing hospital-based Standards of Practice

11. Truwl, Whitefish – Develop bioinformatics software for sharing data analysis in genomic research.

The eleven 2020 Montana Biotech Companies to Watch profiled reveal a number of key industry trends:

* Four of the 11 firms have raised venture capital investment, a sign of growing interest in Montana bioscience from investors like Michael Goguen, founder of Two Bear Capital in Whitefish.

* Four companies were awarded SBIR/STTR grants, reflecting Montana’s #1 position in securing NIH awards. In 2019, Montana’s SBIR/STIR Application Success Rate with NIH was 48.3 percent – more than double the national average – with support from organizations like TechLink in Bozeman.

* The role of universities in fueling biotech growth is evident in the locations of company headquarters. Four firms are in Bozeman near MSU and four are in Missoula close to UM. Two firms call the Flathead Valley home, indicating the rise of that region as an emerging hub for biotech.

* Montana’s biotech firms are innovators in a range of fields vital to the life sciences – vaccine development, diagnostic testing, bioinformatics, telemedicine, medical devices, cancer treatment, pain management, and development of cell culture media.

* More than half of selected firms are rising up to meet new needs in healthcare driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The finalists were selected based on the following criteria:

* Steep revenue growth and/or are working in a high-growth sector

* Poised to launch high-potential products or services

* Own or are developing valuable intellectual property

* On track to land major clients or enter new markets

* Plan to expand operations or add a significant number of jobs in the next year

* Have management teams led by experienced entrepreneurs or top experts in their fields

* Working to address unique challenges presented by COVID-19


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