Recombinetics (RCI), the St. Paul-based, animal-science and biotechnology firm, has completed an $11 million round of equity fundraising, resulting in a total of $24 million from individual investors since 2008.
The company, which is moving from research to commercialization, has hired Capitol Peak Asset Management of Washington, D.C., to assist in raising the next round of equity capital from institutional sources, which could top what already has been garnered.
“We have years of good science being done here, the products and the capability,” said CEO Ian Friendly, who joined RCI this year from an executive post at General Mills. “We are on the launchpad.”
Recombinetics also was the winner last week in the agriculture-food category of the annual Tekne Awards of the Minnesota High Tech Association. The high-tech competition judges lauded RCI for being “the premier gene-editing company in livestock, with applications in therapeutic development and testing, and in animal breeding and care.”
RCI, with 35 employees, develops “precise swine models” of human diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It also creates hornless cows that cause fewer injuries to other animals and handlers and meatier cattle that are more tolerant to heat.
“We’re currently selling pigs that have been engineered to replicate human disease states … to medical researchers,” Friendly said. “The field in the future will be medical device companies, drug companies and other researchers.
“We will also in the next year commence with agricultural sales, introducing desirable traits into livestock. There will be a series of them. This is no difference from traditional breeding, and consumption is safe. We’re going through the government process now. We can sell for research, but need regulatory approval to sell for consumption.”
The company notes that gene-editing to magnify or lessen a trait is different from more controversial genetic modification.
The firm was started by University of Minnesota scientist Scott Fahrenkrug, who was motivated partly by a desire to use genetics to relieve farmers of the messy job of dehorning calves with tools that hurt the animals, a process that was opposed by animal-welfare groups and some retailers.
Fahrenkrug, with the addition of Friendly, moved from CEO to chairman of the board and chief scientific officer last spring.
Friendly, a 30-year General Mills veteran who most recently served as chief operating officer, was hired last spring as the company started the transition from research firm to commercial venture
Schulze-led group invests in Meristem
An investment group led by retired Best Buy founder Richard Schulze has purchased a 25 percent stake in Meristem Family Wealth, the Minnetonka-based firm that provides investment-and-trust services to more than 150 affluent families.
Meristem, which manages about $2.35 billion in assets, will invest the unspecified capital infusion in expansion of its Naples, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz., offices, its South Dakota-based trust company and people and technology, said Meristem CEO Charlie Maxwell.
Maxwell, who owns the 16-year-old firm with four other employees, said: “We’ve got a track record of steady growth, and we also wanted to create opportunity for the 40 men and women in the firm.”
Meristem is a local pioneer in the growing business of “multifamily” offices. In 2004, Sargent Management, which managed the affairs of the Pillsbury family that founded the flour-and-food company, merged into the predecessor of Meristem. The trend is driven by wealthy families, worth a few million to hundreds of millions, who want one-stop assistance in choosing investment managers, financial planning, estate and tax help and philanthropy.
Multifamily offices also can operate more efficiently and spread costs across a broader base, allowing affluent families to often pay less than 1 percent of assets annually for services. They compete largely with bank trust-and-wealth management departments.
“We believe Meristem has a strong platform … focused people and clear purpose,” Schulze said in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunity to help them extend these qualities to new clients and contribute to their growth.”
Schulze’s group includes Kevin Bergman, chief operating officer of Olympus Ventures, the Schulze family office and Naples wealth consultant Michael Benson.
Schulze, 75, through his Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, also is a major philanthropist. He has pledged to donate $1 billion of his accumulated wealth to charitable causes.