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Murrieta Genomics Spinout simplSEQ Completes Seed Round Funding

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Company Plans Commercial Operations in 2021

Murrieta Genomics, the launchpad for genomic sequencing startups, has announced that simplSEQ, an incubator company, has completed its seed round funding, having received $2 million in total. Funds are to be used to validate the company’s novel sample preparation technology with external labs, further protect its patent-pending intellectual property and bring the first products to market.

“This is the amount we targeted to get to revenue generation,” stated John Powers, CEO of simplSEQ. “Our first product is a kit for the purification and isolation of nucleic acids from plasma that we believe will transform the genomic industry.” 

Powers went on to explain that simplSEQ is initially focused on  Nucleic Acid purification and Targeted Assays. The first product is designed to allow labs to isolate and purify virtually all DNA and RNA from biological samples in a completely different way than currently used. The company believes that its proprietary process will be a significant improvement over the existing conventions.

According to simplSEQ’s Chief Science Officer, Brandon Young, “My years at the bench led to a growing frustration with the status quo, accepting products with known issues and increasing complexity of sample preparation and I knew there had to be a better way. simplSEQ’s patent-pending approach eliminates error prone steps and improves turnaround time while reducing lab and labor costs.”

The first product being developed targets the fast-growing liquid biopsy segment. Targeted therapies based upon genomic biomarkers, disease recurrence monitoring, noninvasive pregnancy screening and early cancer screening are just a few of the areas this segment covers. Having a simple protocol that can improve cell free DNA yields while reducing PCR bias and eliminating hybridization and capture steps would be a significant advance. The simplSEQ process also co-purifies both DNA and RNA – enabling simultaneous downstream assays. In addition, no redesigned primers or informatics are needed. 

“The clinical use of the cell free DNA has expanded since the initial use with non-invasive prenatal testing. The use of liquid biopsy in oncology has significantly increased since the first commercially available multigene liquid biopsy platform became available in 2014,” stated Dr. John Spinosa, Chief Medical Officer of simplSEQ. “Today several assays with cfDNA in oncology are commercially available and FDA-approved, and a subset of these assays are considered sufficient for treatment eligibility by insurance companies. We expect to see high growth in the applications of cfDNA as precision medicine advances.”

Another market segment simplSEQ intends to transform is the targeted next generation sequencing assay market. This rapidly expanding area is producing new applications in areas such as transplant surveillance, oncology, rare diseases, population genetics and pathogen detection.

“Our process enables improved targeted sequencing by eliminating the need for ligation and reducing GC content bias. We only need a single PCR step, no capture steps and there are no complicated high temperature wash steps. This will eliminate the need for highly trained lab personnel while reducing labor and sequencing costs. Lab turnaround times will be significantly improved and by eliminating steps that may lead to errors, the labs should be able to improve data quality,” explained Young.

One feature that is unique to simplSEQ’s process is that the nucleic acids are covalently bound to a support structure as single strands. This enables complimentary copies of each strand to be made and eluted off. The eluted strands can then be used for testing. The original DNA or RNA remains bound to the solid support and can be reinterrogated. 

“As a pathologist, I am acutely aware of how precious samples can be,” said Dr. Spinosa. “The ability to preserve the original nucleic acid material while assaying a sample may eliminate the need for second biopsies if further interrogation is needed. One can go back to the original isolated sample. Dealing with scarce samples and limited time is becoming a larger and larger issue in the pathology community. The ability to test a nucleic acid sample in multiple ways while preserving the original material would be a huge benefit. One can easily envision step-wise assays and the potential of creating a biobank that patients can return to as their care may dictate.”

The company is currently in discussions with industry-leading organizations that have expressed a desire to evaluate the new technology and will thus provide validation on the data that has been generated internally by the company. Upon receiving data and feedback from these organizations, simplSEQ is prepared to go to market.

“We already have manufacturing, fulfillment, delivery and billing in place,” stated Powers. “We will have the ability to scale rapidly, as these operations are being outsourced to leaders in their respective areas. We also believe that many of our larger future customers will want to license the technology for use in their applications. This funding marks a pivotal step in simplSEQ’s development.”

Murrieta Genomics CEO, Jay Goth, stated “This is a perfect example of the kind of genomic sequencing companies we want to launch from our incubator. We are looking for transformational companies that can make an impact in this nascent space. Our advisory board has been instrumental and even critical to the development of simplSEQ. I can tell you that without the entire MG team simplSEQ would not be where it is today.”

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

Business

Saybridge Technologies’ Board of Directors Announces Byron J. Paul as CEO

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The SyBridge Technologies’ Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Byron J. Paul has joined SyBridge Technologies (“SyBridge” or the “Company”) as Chief Executive Officer and will also serve as a member of the Board of Directors.  Mr. Paul will build upon the Company’s strategic vision of becoming a global technological leader in value-added design and manufacturing solutions ranging from design and prototyping to production-as-a-service and aftermarket services for customers.  Mr. Paul brings extensive experience in industrial technology and a 20+ year track record of driving profitable growth in complex, global enterprises.

Mr. Paul was most recently Group President at Signode Industrial Group where he led a global portfolio of businesses focused on end-of-line packaging technologies and warehouse automation solutions.  He previously served as President of Destaco, a leading designer and manufacturer of precision engineered components for industrial automation and robotics applications. Mr. Paul has also held senior leadership roles at John Crane, a leader in rotating equipment solutions, and at the Boston Consulting Group.  Mr. Paul holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He also attended the University of Western Australia where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce with first class honors in accounting and finance.

Mr. Paul stated, “I am thrilled to be joining a world-class team at SyBridge Technologies. They have done an outstanding job expanding SyBridge Technologies’ global reach, growing from three sites in 2019 to 16 locations today. I look forward to partnering with the Board and Crestview Partners as we embark on the next phase of growth to build an unrivaled leader in digital manufacturing.”

Jason Luo, Chairman of SyBridge Technologies and Crestview Operating Executive noted, “Byron is a committed leader with a proven track record of successfully growing businesses and we are excited to partner with him as we plan to execute on the Company’s next chapter of growth.”

Mr. Paul succeeds Tony Nardone who has departed the company to pursue other interests. “We appreciate the many contributions Tony has made to SyBridge and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Mr. Luo.

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Tips on Accessing Capital as an Under-resourced Small Business Owner

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Interview with Peter E. Jackson, MBA, Vice President, Sr. Business Consultant at J.P. Morgan Chase

By Josaline Cuesta, California Program Director, Small Business Majority

Entrepreneurship is essential to a thriving and equitable economy. Yet, too many of our smallest businesses—especially those owned by people of color, women, rural business owners, and other under-resourced communities—face significant hurdles in accessing capital from banks and other traditional financial institutions.

Small Business Majority prides itself on partnering with experts in the field to mitigate the unnecessary impacts of inequitable access to capital and help to break down systematic barriers.

Peter E. Jackson, MBA is Vice President, Sr. Business Consultant at J.P. Morgan Chase. His work in California has been integral to creating pathways for minority and women entrepreneurs to access capital successfully. I sat down with Peter for a Q&A to discuss his experiences, share his expertise and tips, and learn more about expanded opportunities for capital in a unique community.

Do you believe there is a barrier to accessing responsible capital for small business owners? If yes, do you believe that a certain group of small business owners are more susceptible to experiencing challenges? Why?

From where I sit, one of the biggest hurdles facing minority small businesses is access to financial education. Many Black and Latino business owners we work with through the Chase mentorship program, believe it or not, cite access to education as their top need, e.g., understanding working capital, credit readiness, financial planning, managing debt and cash flow, etc. Working knowledge of these principles is the foundation of building a small business. That means having your bookkeeping and financial operations to help you make your best case when seeking funding/capital from any lender. Not having this in order may delay any financing for your business. There are also questions to ask yourself, e.g. ‘Am I in a healthy financial position to pay back a loan or is a bank loan the right financing option for my business needs at this time?’ This is where a banking relationship or banker can come in handy.

Often, minority entrepreneurs may not have had the best relationship with a bank or may not have had a parent or close individual to seek guidance from related to entrepreneurship – the list goes on. The pandemic exacerbated many of the underlying racial disparities that already existed in the U.S., including the banking system. As a firm, we recognize these challenges and do everything we can to address them.

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase announced a $30 billion racial equity commitment to create an inclusive economic recovery and help Black and Latino small businesses, families, and local communities create and sustain generational wealth. We’re creating the infrastructure to help more minority-owned businesses grow and recover through new programs, products, and hiring. This service is free, and business owners do not have to be Chase customers to receive coaching and mentorship.

Information about the JP Morgan Chase Minority Owned – Business Program is available at: https://www.chase.com/es/business/minority-businesses

What stories have you heard about the ease of accessing capital for small business owners? Can you please share a few typical challenges and some success stories? Did any success stories involve innovation? Did owners have to think outside the box to gain continued access to capital?

Yes, thinking out of the box is an everyday part of what we as Sr. Business Consultants do. Every business owner comes from a different place financially and operates their business differently. An example of this was a local smoothie bar owned by a Latina entrepreneur in Fontana, California. I discussed her goals and challenges, and she needed to obtain a small working capital loan to hire a part-time employee to extend her business hours and add signage. I helped her calculate and understand her break-even to determine the right price she needed to charge for her product to be able to pay for an additional employee and add a sign to the front of her store. This was important because she established new sales goals to drive more revenue. Also, the loan underwriter could see her business now had sufficient income capacity to borrow and pay back a loan by charging enough to support the loan payment. Business owners often borrow without a plan to demonstrate they can repay the loan or without consulting their CPA to ensure they leave enough money in their business to borrow. Part of my role is to help small business owners understand their business finances and how to leverage them to scale and grow their businesses.

What are some ways to increase small business funding to expand access to capital?

From JPMorgan Chase’s standpoint, here’s what we are doing to expand access to capital for underrepresented communities. We have committed $396 million (page 23-25) in small business philanthropy to grow Black, Hispanic and women-owned small businesses and create a more inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • ~$42.5 million to expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF) in more U.S. cities, the program will offer low-cost loans and technical assistance to small businesses through LISC and CFDI network
  • Philanthropic investments to build the capacity of diverse-led nonprofits across the globe and support the signature Ascend Program
  • Policy solutions through the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center to improve U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) program to better meet the needs of minority- and women-owned small businesses.

Within Business Banking, we plan to provide an additional 15,000 loans -totaling $2 billion- to small businesses in majority-Black, -Hispanic and Latino communities over the next five years. To further expand access to credit to minority business owners, we’re:

  • Exploring targeted adjustments to how the firm evaluates credit applications
  • Introducing new products, including a digital lending platform, to better support the needs of small Black, Hispanic and Latino-owned businesses seeking quick access to capital.

What are some of your recommended, trusted community resources or training opportunities within the Inland Empire that will help with understanding ways to access legitimate capital?

  • Mentorship, dedicated coaching, and education are critical to helping people get credit ready. Look into Chase’s 1:1 coaching for minority entrepreneurs across 21 U.S. cities, where they work with a senior business consultant to help them scale. Visit www.chase.com/businessconsultant to learn more.
  • Visit the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE), an SBDC program within California State University, San Bernardino, which delivers a wide range of programs, technical assistance, and services to existing small business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs in the community. Every state has a small business development center offered through U.S. SBA and colleges/universities.
  • Lastly, I think AmPac, UCR, and the University of La Verne also have some of the strongest community resources that speak to access to capital, readiness, training, grant programs, microfinancing, etc.

Peter will join other financial experts for a Small Business Majority hosted event on September 14, 5:30pm PT. “Breaking Barriers: Accessing capital as women business owners of color” is a free event to learn tips for remaining resilient in business and how to navigate non-predatory debt financing options that will help grow or strengthen your woman-owned small business to help build generational wealth.

Register for this event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-barriers-accessing-capital-as-women-business-owners-of-color-registration-393175316957

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Stater Bros. Markets Appoints Rebecca Calvin to Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

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Stater Bros. Markets is pleased to announce the appointment of Rebecca Calvin to the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, due to the upcoming retirement of the company’s well-respected and current Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Dennis McIntyre. She will report to Chief Executive Officer Pete Van Helden and serve on the company’s Executive Leadership Team. She will begin her new role on Monday, September 26, 2022.

Calvin will lead the company’s marketing efforts which include the Sales and Merchandising, Integrated Marketing, eCommerce, and Food Strategy and Innovation departments. She will be responsible for strengthening Stater Bros.’ ability to meet the evolving needs of grocery shoppers in the diverse Southern California market through smart and effective product, pricing, and promotion strategies.

“I am very excited that Rebecca has chosen to join the Stater Bros. team and I look forward to working side-by-side with her to make Stater Bros. the premier shopping destination for groceries in Southern California,” said Stater Bros. CEO Pete Van Helden. “On behalf of all our teammates, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dennis for nearly 45 years of dedicated service to our company. His passion and enthusiasm have made a significant impact on the current and future success of Stater Bros.”

Calvin arrives at Stater Bros. with several years of experience in the grocery industry, most recently serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer at The Save Mart Companies, where she led merchandising, space planning, pricing and promotion execution, and their private label program. Before joining The Save Mart Companies, she began her career in the grocery industry with Daymon Worldwide as a category buyer. She served as Vice President of Grocery, Frozen, and Dairy at Mariano’s before continuing on to merchandising and category management roles in the Kroger family of companies.

Calvin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with a Minor in Business Administration and is a graduate of the Cornell University Food Executive Program. She has earned a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and currently serves on the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) Board of Directors. Earlier this year, Calvin was recognized as one of Retail Today’s “50 Outstanding Women in Retail.”

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