photo by Michael Miller

Biotech Startup Seeks Opportunity to Grow in Lowell

By Dan O'Brien


Lowell, MA - November 21, 2014 - Biotech is booming in Massachusetts and the Mill City recently landed a slice of the pie.

Alcyone Lifesciences Inc., a four-year-old startup previously based in Ayer and Concord, quietly moved its headquarters to the Boott Mills complex over the summer.

Alcyone, headed by founder, President and CEO P.J. Anand, aims to improve the performance of so-called "direct delivery" for a variety of therapies associated with neuropathological conditions. Among those are Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's disease, epilepsy, hydrocephalus (a swelling of the brain due to excess buildup of cerebrospinal fluid) and, of course, brain tumors.

Anand said the company eyed Lowell because of its increased presence in the emerging-technology space and his own desire to "think out of the Kendall Square box."

"When people hear of biotech, all they think of is Cambridge," Anand said. "but there is a lot going on beyond (Route) 128. You look at the university, what Chancellor Meehan is doing with nanotechnology, emerging technology, M2D2... This city is vibrant and offers a great quality of life."

He also got a little nudge from local attorney Paul Schor.

"I told P.J., 'Why do you want to be in sleepy Concord? There's no labs there,' " Schor said during a visit to Alcyone's office Thursday. Schor specializes in intellectual property.

Anand said Alcyone, named for a star, has two products it hopes to commercialize in 2015. The products are tiny microfabricated delivery systems that will supply direct infusions to the brain. Far smaller than standard needles, these devices help overcome limitations commonly found in conventional therapies.

Alcyone has raised more than $5 million in venture funding, including a $4 million round in January. It initially won a $750,000 loan from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

"That was a very challenging experience," Anand said.

Alcyone Lifesciences Inc. recently moved its headquarters from Concord to Lowell's Boott Mill, with hopes of taking advantage of resources such as the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2). From left are Attorney Paul Schor; project engineer Morgan Brophy; Richard Upton, general partner at Harbor Light Capital Partners; Deep Singh, director of product development; program manager Andrew East; and founder, President and CEO P.J. Anand. SUN / BOB WHITAKER

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"But it got us ready."
Through a mutual friend, Anand met Richard Upton, head of the life-sciences practice at Harbor Light Capital, a Keene, N.H.-based venture-capital firm.

"We spent the first year just getting to know each other," Upton recalled. "What I found is that while P.J. is incredibly smart, he's willing to listen and he's very good at building a formidable team."

While trained in biotech and medicine, Anand spent several years on the corporate world. Prior to forming Alcyone, he was executive vice president of corporate development at Arsenal Medical; and vice president and general manager at Spire Biomedical Inc., a unit of Bedford-based solar company Spire Corp.

But along the way, Anand got the urge to come up with something that "treated people."

"I'm not a Catholic, but I had an epiphany," said Anand.

And so, Alcyone was born in 2010.

Anand, with Schor's help, is networking with officials from the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center and John Power, whose firm owns the Wannalancit Mills, where M2D2 is based.

"We hope to get lab space there," Anand said, perhaps once the organization moves to 110 Canal St. in the Hamilton Canal District next year.

Follow Dan O'Brien on Twitter @dobrien_thesun.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/business/ci_26984004/biotech-startup-seeks-opportunity-grow-lowell#ixzz3LPbQg6vp