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SOUTH FLORIDA BIOTECH COMPANIES, ENTREPRENEURS WIN BIG AT BIOFLORIDA CONFERENCE

South Florida companies and entrepreneurs were big winners at BioFlorida’s annual conference this week in Fort Lauderdale.

TherapeuticsMD in Boca Raton

The event, organized by the state industry association for biotech, took place Oct. 14-16 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. Among the winners were a Boca Raton company that is making inroads in women’s health products and a Jupiter scientist who founded Scripps Florida’s largest spinoff. Additionally, a Coral Springs company won the conference event where companies pitch their business plans to venture capitalists and other experts.

On Tuesday, TherapeuticsMD in Boca Raton was named The David J. Gury Company of the Year.

The company, which focuses on developing and commercializing health-care products for women, was founded in 2008 and went public in 2016. Revenues in 2017 were $16.8 million, primarily from sales of the company’s multivitamins, VitaMedMD, developed for pregnant women.

After receiving marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration, TherapeuticsMD in August launched Imvexxy, a prescription product for menopausal women who experience painful sex due to vaginal atrophy.

“We saw a huge unmet need in women’s health around menopause management,” said Robert Finizio, TherapeuticsMD CEO and co-founder, during the conference.

The award, named after one of BioFlorida’s founders, is designated for a company or organization that has had significant achievements leading to the advancement of the life sciences in Florida.

The Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award, named after another BioFlorida founding director, was presented to Scripps Florida research scientist Matthew Disney, who founded drug development company Expansion Therapeutics. The company, which is developing drugs that target muscular dystrophy and other diseases, operates out of wet labs at Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter, adjacent to Scripps Florida.

On Monday, the event had a “BioPitch” competition for startups — and Coral Springs drug development company Stat3 Therapeutics was the winner. Stat3 Therapeutics is the second local company founded by entrepreneur Matthew Kim; he previously founded Fort Lauderdale-based Vigilant Biosciences.

BioFlorida also presented its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Maurice Ferré, CEO and chairman of Miami-based InSightec, which uses sound wave technology for surgery without incisions. He previously was co-founder and CEO of Davie-based Mako Surgical, which was sold for $1.65 billion to Stryker Corp. in 2013.

The organization’s Leadership Award was given to Valerie Landrio McDevitt, associate vice president for technology transfer and business partnerships at the University of South Florida in Tampa.