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New West Daily Roundup for Jan. 9, 2017

Today in New West news: Bozeman biotech firm raises $15M for opioid alternative, Denver-based cloud startup nets $13M in venture capital, and Wyoming seeks federal fees for wind and solar projects.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, SiteOne Therapeutics Bozeman-based biotech firm has netted $15 million in funding for its proposed pain medication alternative to opioids. SiteOne also announced a partnership with pharmaceutical firm Amgen. From the Chronicle:

“The primary focus of this was obviously the financing of SiteOne to accelerate the buildout of the development team,” said SiteOne CEO Stan Abel. “Having access to (Amgen’s) neuroscience team and extensive experience is something we can benefit greatly from. These resources really allow us to build the team and accelerate our progress toward clinical development.”

Founded in early 2012, SiteOne is in the process of developing a drug that targets and inhibits a specific sodium channel in the body, which would effectively block pain signals to the brain. According to Abel, the company’s treatment would be a welcome alternative to current opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl, which have adverse side effects including dependency and addiction.

From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the CDC, including more than 600 in Montana.

“We have a severe opioid abuse crisis throughout the U.S.,” Abel said. “Our primary motivation is to offer a non-opioid solution where currently prescription opioids are used. There is a patient population out there with a significant need.”

Much of the $15 million will go toward research at the company’s San Francisco facility, however, Abel said he hopes to also use the funds to build a development team at the Bozeman headquarters.

Abel added hopes to create a “world-class pain development team” based mainly in Bozeman.

SiteOne previously raised over $3 million in equity/grant funding through the National Institutes of Health; the most recent round came from a host of firms, including Bozeman-based Next Frontier Capital.

Keeping with funding news, down in Colorado, according to the Denver Business Journal, Denver-based cloud startup Cloud Elements Inc. has raised $13M in venture capital and will expand its staff by a third to expand the reach of its product:

“More than half of our employees have been engineers. We’ve validated the product in the market,” Geene said. “Now we’re really looking to use these funds to get the word out — marketing and sales, and ramping up customer success and support.”

Cloud Elements — currently headquartered in the Industry complex in Denver’s River North district — helps software developers more easily make online applications work well together, an increasing important aspect of building cloud-based software.

The company has raised $21.2 million total since launching in 2013; in January 2016 it reported a $5 million VC raise.

The latest cash infusion — Cloud Elements’ B round — attracted a new investor: Harbert Growth Partners, based in Richmond, Virginia.

Geene said more than half the round came from the largest of Cloud Elements’ existing investors: Grotech Ventures, a Virginia firm with a Denver presence. Westminster-based Access Venture Partners and Rally Ventures, based in Menlo Park, California, are also backers of Cloud Elements.


Cloud Elements helps software developers get data working seamlessly among apps and software through what’s known as “application program interfaces,” or APIs.

Using APIs allows developers to quickly create new features in their software by tying in functions somebody else has already created (think of Google Maps appearing in apps and websites as a basic example) or by making use of data another company makes available.

Once primarily a tool of small apps builders, APIs are playing a bigger role in business software as companies use more apps and cloud-based services. One of Cloud Elements clients is software giant SAP.

“Cloud Elements has been a pioneer in establishing this new space of enabling all APIs to work together, which is reinforced by their fast growth since they’ve launched their platform,” said Roberts, Cloud Elements’ new board member. “We’re excited to support their next-generation initiatives for the modern business and are to see where they lead.”

Finally, over in Wyoming, according to the Billings Gazette, a group of state legislators have banded together to call for a share of federal fees on wind and solar projects. Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower), along with five other lawmakers, are urging Congress to grant states 50 percent for any “rent or right-of-way fees” for projects on federal land, a move proponents say would supplant state revenue, which is currently declining. The sponsors add that the move would not affect the fees/taxes currently in place on wind developers. From the Gazette:

Fossil fuel and geothermal development fees on public lands already contribute to the states where they are built. However, Wyoming doesn’t receive any of the fees now collected by the federal government on wind projects.

Driskill asks why wind should be any different.

“Everything gets exported to Washington in some way, like we’re some colony rather than being a state,” he said. “They need to understand that they need to share with us.”

Federal Land Wind and Solar Energy Revenue — State Share is also a reflection of lawmakers’ growing interest in how wind development should fit into the state’s revenue portfolio. Another bill this session will consider raising the wind tax. Wyoming’s traditional resources — oil, gas and coal — are well established, contributing up to 70 percent of the state’s tax income. Those sources are also struggling through an economic valley while wind and solar become cheaper to produce.

Renewables are uncharted ground, Driskill said.

“It brings us closer to the process as far as what’s happening in our own state,” the senator said. “Wyoming needs to play an active role in what its future is and how it’s done and not just follow the federal government around.”

Developers continue to eye Wyoming as a potential wind boon, despite some challenges with transmission and permitting hurdles. Rocky Mountain Power has a number of farms operating to provide electricity in Wyoming and other states.

Per the Gazette, the legislation would also apply to projects like the Chokecherry Sierra Madre wind farm.

Driskill expressed confidence in the bill finding support among his fellow Wyoming legislators and is optimistic the bill would find support in Washington D.C.

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