SRI Shenandoah Valley plans third spinoff
In research and development, spinoff companies are more like slow-cooked barbecue than fast food.
“These things take a long time,” says Robin Sullenberger, the retired Shenandoah Valley Partnership CEO who helped bring the nonprofit R&D company SRI International to Harrisonburg seven years ago.
“That’s one of the things that a lot of people don’t understand about the spinoff,” Sullenberger says. “That world is complicated. It involves a lot of legal issues. It involves investment issues and various things and, of course, the products that are going out in the marketplace have to be firmly believed in terms of the ability to commercialize them.”
Good things, however, come to those who wait. SRI Shenandoah Valley launched two spinoffs in 2013, and a third company, focused on cancer diagnostics, is in the works.
“So, think about once a year, from your annual physical, being able to tell whether you need to worry about cancer coming back or cancer starting in the first place,” says Walter Moos, vice president of SRI Biosciences, in describing the new company.
The first SRI spinoff occurred in March with the creation of Redcoat Solutions, a company that’s developing bed-bug detection products. The second spinoff, RioGin, is working on a technology to increase the half-life and reduce the side-effects of certain drugs, such as those used to treat cancer and diabetes.
Spinoffs aren’t the only news at SRI Shenandoah Valley. The firm recently completed a 40,000-square-foot expansion at its Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE) in Harrisonburg.
The $2.8 million project includes more than 2,500 square feet of laboratory and storage space.
“It has been a fantastic time,” says Krishna Kodukula, head of SRI Shenandoah Valley, who moved from California to start CADRE in 2007. “We have worked on very important problems that will benefit the world when we find the solutions to them, and we are continuing to do that. We are finding new therapies, new diagnostics and new vaccines that will help a lot of people around the world.”
Besides biosciences, SRI International’s divisions include education, engineering and products and services. The nonprofit’s claims to fame include inventing the computer mouse and Siri, the first virtual personal assistant, which is used in iPhones. SRI spun off Siri Inc. in 2007 and sold it to Apple Inc. in 2010.