State makes grant to Evanston startup


Evanston-based AuraSense Therapeutics is one of two start-up firms sharing $575,000 in state support announced by Gov. Pat Quinn today.

AuraSense Therapeutics, founded in last year, is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing spherical nucleic acid constructs, which can help fight diseases such as heart disease, cancer, skin conditions and bacterial infection.

With the capital leveraged through the Invest Illinois Venture Fund, the company expects to accelerate the development and growth of multiple therapeutics and create dozens of jobs over the next three years.

Northwestern University professor Chad Mirkin, co-founder of AuraSense, said having Illinois’ new venture fund as part of the syndicate investing in the firm "is not only important validation of the AuraSense mission and gene regulation platform, but also will be key in transitioning the technology to important new therapeutics for a wide variety of debilitating diseases.”

The other firm sharing in the state investment is Chicago-based start-up Buzz Referrals, which operates an online platform that creates custom referral programs for businesses and non-profits based on social media. 

“This new venture fund is allowing us to help small and start-up businesses increase innovation and competition, expand, and create good-paying jobs,” Quinn said. “We must continue to do everything we can to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow in order to boost the economy, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.”

The state venture fund is part of Quinn's Advantage Illinois program, launched last October to leverage $78 million in federal funding to help allow businesses to bring innovative ideas and new products to market, and accelerate job creation and economic growth in Illinois.

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