Author Archives: Spencer Trask

Remembering Jonas Salk

Kevin Kimberlin speaks about his late friend Jonas Salk during an interview in his Greenwich office. Salk, who died in 1995, developed the first successful polio vaccine.

Kevin Kimberlin speaks about his late friend Jonas Salk during an interview in his Greenwich office. Salk, who died in 1995, developed the first successful polio vaccine.

“There is no such thing as failure, just giving up too soon.”

Those words, spoken by Jonas Salk, the polio vaccine hero of the 20th century, reflected Salk’s obsessive, passionate and unquenchable drive to eradicate the disease.

“His story is perhaps a story for anyone in how to tackle a problem in the obsessive way Jonas had, of never, ever quitting,” said Kevin Kimberlin, longtime friend of Salk and Greenwich resident.

In the 1940s and ’50s, polio paralyzed or killed half a million people in the world each year.

“How terrible it would be for the mother, who would wake up and not know if her child would be alive or dead,” said Kimberlin.

He will host an event at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich Thursday featuring a screening of the 32-minute documentary “The Shot Felt ’Round the World” and a book signing by Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, author of “Jonas Salk: A Life.”

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Jonas Salk with Kevin Kimberlin

Jonas Salk with Kevin Kimberlin

More Information

Kevin Kimberlin, of Greenwich, will host a screening of the documentary film “The Shot Felt ‘Round the World,” and Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs will sign and sell her book, “Jonas Salk: A Life,” at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenwich Thursday. The event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is free and open to the public. To learn more on the BeyondPolio website, sponsored by Spencer Trask and Kevin Kimberlin, click here.

OPKO Health Expands Portfolio of Tests for Inherited Forms of Cancer

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)– OPKO Health, Inc. (NYSE:OPK) announced today that its GeneDx business unit has expanded its inherited cancer panel offerings and genetic tests to include four additional genes.

The four genes are POLD1, POLE, SCG5/GREM1, and SMARCA4. Three of the genes, POLD1, POLE and SCG5/GREM1, are associated with colon polyposis, colon cancer and endometrial cancer; while SMARCA4 is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of ovarian cancer. With the addition of these genes to the inherited cancer testing portfolio, it is possible to more effectively identify patients at risk. Once abnormalities are identified, patients can work with their healthcare providers to understand their specific cancer risk and what they can do to manage that risk.

“The addition of these four genes to the genetic tests now available from GeneDx can help in the diagnosis of rare syndromes associated with increased risk of colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and other cancers,” said Marc. D. Grodman, M.D., CEO of BioReference Laboratories Inc., a subsidiary of OPKO.

The new gene panels and tests are available now for physicians to order from the GeneDx website. For more information, please visit or email us at

About OPKO Health, Inc.

OPKO is a multi-national biopharmaceutical and diagnostics company that seeks to establish industry leading positions in large and rapidly growing medical markets by leveraging our discovery, development and commercialization expertise and our novel and proprietary technologies. For more information, visit

This press release contains “forward-looking statements,” as that term is defined under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), which statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “plans,” “projects,” “will,” “may,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “should,” “intends,” “estimates,” and other words of similar meaning, including statements regarding expectations about our inherited cancer testing portfolio and the additional genes we have added to our tests, the ability to more effectively identify patients at risk for cancer, accelerate the diagnosis of rare syndromes associated with increased risk for different forms of cancer, as well as other non-historical statements about our expectations, beliefs or intentions regarding our business, technologies and products, financial condition, strategies or prospects. Many factors could cause our actual activities or results to differ materially from the activities and results anticipated in forward-looking statements. These factors include those described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the risks inherent in funding, developing and obtaining regulatory approvals of new, commercially-viable and competitive products and treatments. In addition, forward-looking statements may also be adversely affected by general market factors, competitive product development, product availability, federal and state regulations and legislation, the regulatory process for new products and indications, manufacturing issues that may arise, patent positions and litigation, among other factors. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date the statements were made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements. We intend that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the PSLRA.

OPKO Health, Inc.
Tara Mackay, 305-575-4100
Investor Relations
Rooney & Associates
Terry Rooney, 212-223-0689
Marion Janic, 212-223-4017
Anne Marie Fields, 212-838-3777
Bruce Voss, 310-691-7100

Source: OPKO Health, Inc.

InVivo Therapeutics Reports Significant Improvement of First Patient Implanted with Neuro-Spinal Scaffold™

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Oct 23, 2015) – InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. (NVIV) today announced a 12- month post-implant update for the first study patient in the company’s ongoing pilot trial of its investigational Neuro-Spinal ScaffoldTM in patients with complete acute spinal cord injury.

In the time between the 6-month and 12-month post-injury assessments, the patient continued to demonstrate improvement in the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) lower extremity motor score with an additional 8 points gained on this 50 point score. The patient demonstrated additional bilateral improvements in the motor function of hip flexors and knee extensors and for the first time bilateral contractions of the ankle dorsiflexors and ankle plantar flexors.

A large natural history database shows that patients with similar level injuries (T10-T12) have an average increase of lower extremity motor scores between 6 and 12 months of fewer than 2 points.

“I am delighted that our first patient continued to experience significant motor improvement after the 6-month visit. It is particularly exciting that the patient is regaining motor function in the ankle region as this indicates recovery is occurring not only in muscles that demonstrated some early recovery, but also in new muscles further down the legs. We are all hoping for continued improvement for the patient in the future. It was a brave decision to volunteer to be the first person ever to receive our investigational product, and it has been rewarding to observe the patient’s steady improvement over the last year,” said Mark Perrin, InVivo’s CEO and Chairman.

About the Neuro-Spinal ScaffoldTM

Following an acute spinal cord injury, the biodegradable Neuro-Spinal Scaffold is surgically implanted at the epicenter of the wound and is designed to act as a physical substrate for nerve sprouting. Appositional healing to spare spinal cord tissue, decreased post-traumatic cyst formation, and decreased spinal cord tissue pressure have been demonstrated in preclinical models of spinal cord contusion injury. The Neuro-Spinal Scaffold, an investigational device, has received a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) designation and is currently being studied in an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) pilot study for the treatment of patients with complete (AIS A) traumatic acute spinal cord injury.

About InVivo Therapeutics 

InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. is a research and clinical-stage biomaterials and biotechnology company with a focus on treatment of spinal cord injuries. The company was founded in 2005 with proprietary technology co-invented by Robert Langer, Sc.D., Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Joseph P. Vacanti, M.D., who then was at Boston Children’s Hospital and who now is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2011, the company earned the David S. Apple Award from the American Spinal Injury Association for its outstanding contribution to spinal cord injury medicine. In 2015, the company’s investigational Neuro-Spinal Scaffold received the 2015 Becker’s Healthcare Spine Device Award. The publicly-traded company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more details, visit


Spencer Trask & Co. Announces Sponsorship of 2015 World Polio Day Event Presented by Rotary and UNICEF

Chairman Kevin Kimberlin Urges Community to Support the Global Effort to End Polio

GREENWICH, CT–(Marketwired – Oct 20, 2015) – Following a major global health milestone last month, Spencer Trask & Co. today announced its sponsorship of the 2015 World Polio Day event being hosted by Rotary and UNICEF. The live streaming event takes place on October 23 in New York City online at 6:30 PM EDT. Guests will include Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, celebrity ambassadors, polio survivors, and others. The official World Polio Day, established by Rotary International, is October 24.

In addition to sponsoring the global Rotary event, Spencer Trask & Co. chairman, Kevin Kimberlin, is hosting a local gathering in Connecticut on October 22 to honor polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, whose groundbreaking work saved the lives of untold millions. Author Charlotte Jacobs, MD will speak about her just-released biography on Salk, “Jonas Salk: A Life.” In addition, a recently released 32-minute documentary film about Salk and his polio vaccine, “The Shot Felt ‘Round the World” will be screened.

“Thanks to the Salk polio vaccine, the demise of one of history’s most feared diseases is imminent,” said Kimberlin. “Dr. Salk had a profound impact on me. More importantly, his story provides us all of us with a blueprint for how humanity can work together to solve other major problems in the future.”

In September, the World Health Organization declared Africa’s last polio-endemic country, Nigeria, polio-free, leaving only two countries which have never stopped the virus: Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1988, when Rotary and its partners committed to eradicating the disease, polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries — or, more than 1,000 per day. Since that time, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99.9%, with less than 50 cases in two countries to date in 2015.

Rotary has contributed more than US$1.4 billion to ending polio. Funds contributed to Rotary are tripled thanks to a 2:1 match by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About Rotary
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Visit and for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio. Video and still images will be available on the NewsMarket.

About Spencer Trask & Company
Spencer Trask & Co. is a privately held advanced technology development company. The firm works with entrepreneurs, CEOs, corporate partners, venture firms and high net worth individuals to start and grow high impact ventures. Spencer Trask & Co. has been instrumental in the formative stage of companies that pioneered many technological and scientific advancements in the field of genomics, the transformation of healthcare, the Internet and open innovation.



Jamie Dunne for Spencer Trask & Co.


The Billion Dollar Startup Club – A Very Exclusive Club Indeed

The Spencer Trask Institute, a non-profit affiliate of venture firm Spencer Trask & Co., recently conducted a survey of over 2000 individuals— investors in early stage private equity with interests in early stage technology, internet, medtech and biotech startups. One of the goals of the survey was to test these investors knowledge of, interest in and experience with the current marketplace fascination with Unicorns— startups that have grown to valuations in excess of $1Billion. This Unicorn phenomenon has been a buzz in the venture marketplace for at least the past year, but has recently come under scrutiny as some of the most visible high-flying Unicorns have had their $1B plus valuations challenged and have seen some traditional late stage (pre-IPO) investors balk at writing the big eight or nine-digit checks. Could this portend problems for the entire early stage market? Will valuation skepticism find its way down to lowly ten-to-hundred million-dollar companies?   As the public markets seek a new level, is it possible that the private equity markets will follow suit and reset its own benchmarks at more sanguine levels? All good questions to be answered by the investors in both public and private equity— and the results of the ST Institute survey leads us to some interesting conclusions about what the future may look like for early stage companies, early stage investors and early stage venture firms.

The Survey Results  

The results are in and it should be comforting to all who are and have been active players in the early stage technology startup market that there are no tsunami waves of change coming. A full 75% of all respondents were happy to confirm that they are currently active investors and expect to continue to invest in early stage startup opportunities that meet their personal investment criteria. Whew! Actually, a 25% turnover in the active investors’ community might not be a bad thing at all— it may actually be a healthy indictor that as one set of investors either cashes out or moves to the sidelines, new fresh set of investors with new money is waiting in the wings to pick up the torch and carry on. New investors means new ideas, new requirements and expectations, possibly a new, more modern and contemporary viewpoint and understanding of tech trends and potential upside of breakthrough ideas and disruptive technology innovations. Despite the fact that only 13% of respondents have actually invested in a company that was a member of the $1Billion Startup Club, 42% confessed that they continually search for the next $1B startup club member— the remaining 58% seem to have set their sights a bit lower and are content to seek opportunities with a higher chance of success but likely with a lower payout multiple!

The one question with possibly the most surprising response was the question that focused on the current view of private company valuations. Many of us here were prepared to hear investors shriek and moan over current private company valuations vs. their true strength and future monetization values— and we were not surprised. Only 28% of those surveyed told us that they believed that Unicorn valuations— those over $1B— truly reflect the strength and future value of these companies. This is understandable at a time when some of the biggest and most widely known (but not necessarily widely held) Unicorns are facing huge marketplace and regulatory challenges to their business models and growth plans. Their sentiment was supported by the fact that nearly half of the class of 2013 companies that had gone public were selling for less than their IPO prices. Year-to-date figures for the class of 2015 IPO’s reveal that fully 58% of the companies which became public in 2015 are trading below their initial IPO prices. There are many explanations which could be offered to explain why the remaining 28% of responses to the Unicorn valuation question are skeptical of current valuations— not the least of which is a desire to keep the valuation flames burning brightly until they get in and get out of their favorite Unicorn deal. Many could be reassured by the Facebook, etc. post IPO performance that confirmed the private valuation even though they were very high. There is always the FOMO phenomenon— the fear of missing out on the tidal wave of Unicorns until each investor has gotten their bite of the apple. Statistically, consistent survey responses over 70% would represent a very strong opinion being voiced from this audience and one might assume that to be this strongly aligned in their opinions, this audience must have extensive experience with $1B Unicorns— but when polled on whether or not they have ever invested in any member of the $1B Startup Club, only 14% had direct investment experience— the remaining 86% have watched from the sidelines. Clearly the demographics of the survey audience biased the answer to this and other questions about direct Unicorn experience, since the Spencer Trask investor network consists of high-net-worth individuals who are inclined to invest small to moderate amounts ($50k-$200k) in a number of early stage companies with a long term outlook. When asked, 70% of the respondents confirmed that they had never even had the opportunity and were never invited to invest in any of the companies we now call Unicorns.


But before we extrapolate the survey findings into a conclusion that says that today’s valuation multiples are unrealistic and unsustainable, let s reflect on two succeeding questions which illuminate the respondents thinking into the future. When asked if these Unicorns could sustain these valuations and multiples into the future, 81% agreed that it was not likely, and an even more definitive 86% said they believed that this current Unicorn phenomenon which resulted in the $1B Startup Club, is an early indicator of an Internet bubble which will cause these companies to be repriced at much lower levels. Taking all three of these questions together and attempting to get an overall viewpoint of investor sentiment about members of the $1B Startup Club, it would appear that investors are fine with extremely high valuations of private companies as long as they are in the deal cheap and early. However, when talking about follow on investment with valuations in the 9 digit area, investors become much more cynical and are happy to leave those late stage checks to those with a bigger appetite such as hedge funds, later stage specialty VC’s, institutions and financial services firms with an eye toward locking up downstream business from the IPO, debt offerings and other investment banking business. Considering that 70% of our respondents have never been invited to invest in a Unicorn deal and don’t expect to be invited in the future, it is reasonable to see that their specific investment focus remains on getting into initial stage deals EARLY (eg., angel round, seed round or A round) and staying within the boundaries of their own personal circumstances, investment criteria and comfort zone.


Further to that point, when given the choice of making a relatively large investment in one deal versus spreading capital across a set of smaller deals, 63% of the respondents in this survey would spread the capital and hedge their bets rather than roll the dice with a big, one time investment. This sentiment is consistent with our findings from every prior survey of investor intentions. They would much rather have a number of dogs in the hunt knowing that their total return may be dampened as one deal succeeds and another fails, than pick one early stage opportunity and invest a material sum in that one venture. In fact, 83% of the respondents consider themselves to be long-term investors who are willing to wait an extended period of time for their investments to mature and reach their true potential.   Those investors are a very appreciated and sought after community for early stage companies— whether raising an angel round, trying to seed a friends and family round or seeking a venture capital firm who understands the challenges, nuances and complexities of taking a new idea from concept to development to market.


Some High Level Conclusions and Observations

The $1B Startup Club is indeed a recognition that what started as a concept or idea in the not so recent past is now an ongoing enterprise with products/services, management, staff, customers and revenues. It is the goal and dream of every angel investor and every venture capitalist to know that they saw something very special at the earliest stages of gestation and then backed their vision with investment capital to help the startup along its path to success. Knowing firsthand the challenges that each of these companies faced along the way— execution challenges, talent acquisition challenges, capital availability (the right amount at the right price) challenges, marketplace resistance, possible regulatory resistance, competition, and a long list of other trials and tribulations that all startups face, we must recognize each for their accomplishments, perseverance and vision. Regardless of what we may think of their offerings, they must be doing something right to have garnered a confirmed investment at a valuation in excess of $1B! Many of you who participated in the survey voiced your concerns loudly when asked about the validity of those $1B+ valuations. Since all of these companies are private, there is no public information available concerning the key metrics that investors typically rely upon to determine a company’s value. The only ones with that information are company insiders and those investors who were granted access to selected information before confirming their intentions to invest. At the levels of valuation and investment we see here, it can no longer be referred to as an early stage angel-like investment— a better analogy would be to consider any transactions with the $1B Startup Club members look and act more like a Private IPO— without the filings, disclosures, compliance requirements and all of the other safeguards that have been put in place to protect the private investor in the public marketplace. Insiders can sell some of their equity to the investor— taking a little ‘off the table’ before having to answer to later public scrutiny and earnings/revenue expectations of Wall St. CEO’s become rock stars and management teams all become billionaires on paper.


As has been confirmed once again by this survey, Spencer Trask investors are a savvy, knowledgeable and cautious community, often influenced as much by wanting to do good as to do well. They expect comprehensive and transparent disclosure on each opportunity, they invest cautiously in opportunities that meet their own specific investment criteria, they do not exclusively seek big home runs and allocate their capital accordingly and they take a longer term, more sanguine view than that which exists in the hype cycle of Unicorns. Certainly, any investor would enjoy watching a seed level investment at a modest valuation become a $1B enterprise and rewarding investors with life altering returns but our investors understand that for every Unicorn there are 20 wannabe one-horned Unicorpses with disappointed investors.  That is why they call it The Shark Tank!

Kevin Kimberlin to Speak at UCLA On 40th Anniversary of the Internet

Angel Investor, Co-founder of Ciena to reflect on access, capacity and consequences; share future outlook from birthplace of the Internet.

October 27, 2009 (Greenwich, CT) – Spencer Trask & Co., a leading private investment firm discovering and developing ideas to shape the 21st century, will join Professor Leonard Kleinrock as a co-sponsor of the 40th Anniversary of the Internet event at UCLA on October 29, 2009.

Kevin Kimberlin, Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co., is the Angel whose investment in a technology called wave division multiplexing continues to enable capacity and speed for Internet communications. Mr. Kimberlin will share his perspective as a thought-leader on collaborative innovation. Questions he will answer are, “So what?” and “What next, now that one- quarter of humanity is connected by the Internet?”

Professor Kleinrock, widely known as Father of the Internet, said, “Mr. Kimberlin’s participation in this event provides perspective from a highly regarded angel investor. We are pleased he is joining us.”

The keynote address will be presented by Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman of One Laptop Per Child and Co- Founder of MIT Media Laboratory. Other featured speakers include Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in- Chief of The Huffington Post; Shiva Shivakumar, Vice President and Entrepreneur in Residence, Google; Thomas Gewecke, President, Digital Distribution, Warner Brothers; and Regina Dugan, Director of DARPA.

Mr. Kimberlin said, “I am honored to be a part of this celebration and thrilled that so many others recognize the significance of this date. Even after forty years, the full potential of the Internet has yet to be imagined.”

About Spencer Trask & Co.

Spencer Trask is a leading venture capital firm distinguished by a network of co-investors and business leaders that provide entrepreneurs with financial and intellectual capital to transform bright ideas into world-changing companies. Headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Spencer Trask invests in early stage and emerging growth companies in the communications, information technology and life sciences fields.

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