We love a good story. Especially when it’s about one of Larta’s portfolio companies.
Michael Johnson, the 27-year-old CEO of Visikol, experienced failure in three different ventures before helming the successful biotechnology startup. Today, Johnson has been named as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 within the science category. Johnson’s company, Visikol, a graduate of Larta’s NSF Commercialization Acceleration Program (NSF-CAP), has been featured in both Forbes and Business Insider.
Johnson explained the launch of Visikol to Business Insider: “Ben Franklin Technology Partners…offered us $100,000. We leveraged that offer to receive a $500,000 investment from the New Jersey Foundation Venture Capital Group.”
With the $500,00, Visikol became the platform for their main product, Visikol HISTO, an easy-to-use, rapid chemical agent used to render biological tissue clear for research in biology and medicine. Every year, over $4 billion is spent in the United States on toxicology studies for new pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, pesticides, and industrial chemicals.
The innovation is timely, considering last December the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), named the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Completion of the chemical safety reviews and implementation of subsequent regulations could take five years or more. Visikol’s HISTO technology would reduce both researcher time and the number of laboratory animals needed to complete common studies, leading to faster and more efficient safety screening for new chemicals—meeting a felt need within the toxicology sector.
Visikol’s HISTO is currently being employed by over 160 researchers in the U.S. and the E.U. At Larta Institute, we pride ourselves on our partnership with entrepreneurs like Visikol, and we look forward to more successes from the startup in 2017.