A Plan For Our Region’s Future

“I love it when a plan comes together.” That phrase was made famous in the 1980s on the television show, The A-Team. It’s also a great way to describe the latest major economic development project for the Danville-Pittsylvania County region: Panacea Biomatx, and how The Launch Place helped make it all happen.

Last month, Governor Ralph Northam announced that Panacea Biomatx, a manufacturer of personalized medicine and nutrition solutions, will invest $5.8 million to establish a research and development and high-tech manufacturing facility in the Cane Creek Centre Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County. The project will create 70 new jobs. The story behind the announcement is just as interesting as the news is exciting.

According to a 2013 study conducted by The Mayo Clinic, 20 percent of Americans take five or more medications daily, a majority of these being senior citizens. With individuals who have cardiovascular or other severe medical conditions, doctors claim it is a challenge to get them to take all of their regulatory pills daily—which can be up to 20. This can lead to worsened health problems or even loss of life.

With this in mind, Edison Hudson and Staton Noel looked for a solution to the “one pill fits all” method that has circulated the industry for a number of years. In 2013, they started Panaceutics, a subsidiary of Panacea Biomatx, Inc. Pushing towards the future of pharma and nutraceuticals, Hudson and Noel combined years of experience in pharmaceuticals, robotics, and software innovations to develop a process to deliver personalized medicine that would not only meet the needs of an individual, but would also be easy to consume.

This is where The Launch Place comes in to the story. Starting from scratch in a regulated, high dollar market proved to be a challenge. In 2015, Panaceutics received a $250,000 seed investment from The Launch Place, making them the fifth company to join The Launch Place’s portfolio. “The initial investment was made to enable Panaceutics to expand its robotic manufacturing technology in order to position the company at the front of the shifting pharmaceutical industry”, said Eva Doss, President and CEO of The Launch Place.

“Seed-stage funding typically entails a small investment aimed at financing the early development of a product. Companies can apply for venture capital when a product is further along in development, which can lead to multimillion dollar deals with high returns”, Doss explained.

“For us, raising early capital was difficult,” says Noel. “Really, The Launch Place was one of the only institutional investors interested in helping early stage companies, and they have a very good model for companies like us.”

But it didn’t stop there. During the last 3 years, The Launch Place has invested an additional $250,000 in Panaceutics.

Today, Panaceutics is reshaping pharma and nutraceuticals by delivering personalized monthly subscriptions of “pill free” portable nutritional pouches, combining up to 20 active ingredients that offer a convenient way to consume medications, vitamins, and supplements. Each pouch will deliver the right nutrients and correct dosage for each individual, reducing drug related side effects or adverse events.

Panaceutics’ expansion will create an estimated 70 jobs, adding millions to the annual revenue of the Dan River Region. This move goes well beyond the partnership requirements of The Launch Place, which states that a company must establish a minimum of five jobs in the Dan River Region in three years as part of their investment criteria.

This latest economic development announcement is not only great news for our citizens, but shows the investments that The Launch Place is making in their portfolio companies will pay significant dividends for the future of our region.