Robotics Startup Galen Snags Modern Legend Robert Langer

Robert Langer / courtesy of The Existential Entrepreneur

Galen Roboticsa Baltimore-based biotech company, recently added Modern co-founder Robert Langer to its board of directors. Galen, which has already proven to be a powerhouse of a startup, will further benefit from Langer’s extensive experience in biotech startups and hands-on laboratory work.

Langer is a legend in the biotech world, although he’s not the typical venture capitalist the life sciences industry usually sees. An academic, Langer earned his Sc.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1974 and has been a professor there for decades. In addition to teaching, Langer runs MIT’s biomedical research lab, one of the largest in the world, with a budget topping $ 10 million annually.

In addition to his academic career, Langer has been prolific in the industry. He founded Flagship VentureLabs, a venture capital firm that focused on incubating small biotech companies. As early as 2009Flagship and Langer were investing in companies such as Selecta Biosciences, a privately held Massachusetts-based biopharma company that develops immunomodulatory nanoparticles.

VentureLab’s first major success was Moderna, where Langer was a co-founder. In 2012, Langer and Flagship supported fledgling Moderna in its first round of investing, totaling around $ 40 million. Moderna’s main goal was to focus on mRNA therapies, which Langer, who was also on the board of directors, was passionate about. This laid the groundwork for Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Since Modern, Langer has continued to invest in promising startups. At the Swedish American Life Sciences Summit, Langer was on a panel that awarded EpiEndo Pharmaceuticals the Rising Star Award. Langer’s support through Flagship spans a broad range of topics, from Immunaian immune system mapping biotech company, to Sigilon Therapeutics‘non-viral, cell-based therapies for chronic diseases.

One of Langer’s biggest achievements is establishing a feasible way for therapies to release multiple medications at different release rates. For example, Juniper Pharmaceuticals developed a novel intravaginal ring with Langer’s research. The ring is made of different layers of polymers that dissolve at different rates, allowing drug delivery systems to release certain molecular weights and various dosing capacities.

Langer also has experience in biotech robotics specifically. Last year, he invested in and was named head of the scientific advisory board of Opentronsa lab platform that integrates lab robotics and operations.

Langer will be a valuable addition to Galen Robotics, but Galen has already proven its independent success. The company started a research project at Johns Hopkins University and quickly moved to Silicon Valley for better funding and support. However, in 2019, the Baltimore area convinced Galen to come home with more than $ 9 million in incentives.

Galen’s star product is a robotic arm for surgeries. When a robotic arm is used during surgeries, physicians have better dexterity and less fatigue, lending increased accuracy and longevity during surgery. Developed as a possible competitor to the DaVinci surgical robot, Galen’s robotic arm takes less training and can be used more easily in the neurological and ENT spaces than DaVinci.

The robotic arm product was featured in the 2019 Canaccord Genuity Medical Technology & Diagnostics Forum, and investors were so impressed that Galen was later highlighted as one of only nine companies in an investor industry update after the forum. Galen also raised $ 15 million in a Series A round of VC funding.

Now with Langer’s expertise, Galen’s future is even brighter. The company says it plans to file for 510 (k) regulatory approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and open a second round of venture capital funding later this year.

“Hey [Langer] is a legend. Everybody knows who he is, ” said Bruce Lichorowic, CEO of Galen Robotics. “I wanted to get somebody on the board who had more business experience than me, and I wanted to have someone on the board who can give straight advice to us.”

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