Tetra Therapeutics

West Michigan-based company Tetra Therapeutics is discovering groundbreaking therapeutics for Alzheimer’s patients after nearly a decade of support from MEDC.

In West Michigan, one clinical-stage biotechnology company is leading the industry in Alzheimer’s disease treatments. Founded in 2010 by Dr. Mark Gurney, Tetra Therapeutics develops innovative therapeutic products for patients suffering from cognitive impairment and memory loss.

In 2020, Tetra was acquired by Shiongoi & Co. LTD., a Japanese pharmaceutical company, for $500 million. Along nearly every step in Tetra’s successful 10-year journey from research to acquisition was the support, expert advice and statewide support network provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

After submitting his first grant proposal to the National Institute for Health in 2011, Dr. Gurney turned to the Michigan Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Tech Team for guidance and support. The SBDC played a critical role in the company’s early formation process and helped Dr. Gurney through the complex process of securing federal research grant funding.

The Tech Team also assisted Dr. Gurney with developing grant proposals. As a result, Dr. Gurney received an Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in 2012, which allowed him to rent a chemistry lab at WMed Innovation Center, a 69,000-sqaure-foot incubator and coworking space created to support early-stage startups with subsidized, low-cost laboratories and high-quality scientific equipment. Dr. Gurney attributes Tetra’s success to the opportunities available to him at the incubator.

“If it were not for WMed Tetra would not exist today,” Dr. Gurney said. “The biology laboratory and cutting-edge tools available to me, along with support from incubator staff, were the catalyst for the company’s future success in the industry.”

The Tech Team provided assistance with research, strategic planning, and resources for navigating federal and state agencies to secure grant funding. Learn more about Tetra Therapeutics’ experience with the SBDC here.

Thanks to his innovative biomed work at WMed and his longstanding relationships at the SBDC, Dr. Gurney received additional funds through the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund (METF). Intellectual property is a critical aspect of a biotechnology company, and the METC allowed Tetra to cover patent filings and other legal expenses.

By 2013, Dr. Gurney’s work began making waves in the industry, with Tetra attracting interest from possible investors. Over the next several years, Tetra received additional support from the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center of Western Michigan University, Ann Arbor Spark and Invest Detroit to help the company continue to develop its research and grow in Michigan. After enjoying continued growth and investment, Tetra was named a Michigan Celebrates Small Business awardee in 2018—further solidifying its role and success in the biomed industry.

While Tetra is a fully owned subsidiary of Shionogi & Co. LTD today, it remains a West Michigan-based company, and the team continues its work in introducing groundbreaking therapeutic solutions for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments.

Every day, the MEDC is helping high-tech entrepreneurs and startups like Tetra Therapeutics take their innovative ideas to market. For more information on MEDC and how to access capital resources, please visit michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.

Michigan’s ecosystem for small business support is unmatched. For small businesses looking to learn more about Michigan SBDC services, including consulting and marketing support, market research, strategic planning and more, visit michigansbdc.org.