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Steel Therapeutics raises $1.5 million seed round

Steel Therapeutics, an early stage pharmaceutical company focused on increasing access to compounded drug therapies, announced this week that it has closed on $1.5 million in financing in an over-subscribed seed round. The company’s financing was led by ISA Ventures, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and included a several private investors with significant industry experience.

“We are grateful for the support of our new and existing investors and continue to be encouraged by their enthusiasm for our efforts to bring a new generation of therapies out of backrooms and to patient bedsides,” said Matt Stahl, PharmD, Founder and CEO in a news release.

The raised capital will be used to finalize development of Steel’s Fizurex medicated wipe, advance the company’s pre-clinical testing program later this year, support protection of associated intellectual property, and position the company for its first IND filing with the FDA in 2023.

Steel Therapeutics also announced that veteran biotech executive, Dennis Sparks, is joining its board as part of the round. Dennis has previously served as an executive with Pfizer and UpToDate, and will bring insights from the pharmaceutical industry to the team.

“Steel’s efforts to translate insights from compounding pharmacies into FDA-approved solutions that are broadly accessible to patients is work that stands to benefit millions,” said Sparks. “It is an honor to be rolling up my sleeves alongside this dedicated team of entrepreneurs.”

Previous coverage

Steel Therapeutics is increasing access to life-changing therapies

Steel Therapeutics raises $1.5 million seed round | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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