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Oberon FMR Wins Top Prize at BioWest 2008 Venture Showcase Competition

Oberon FMR, Inc. was selected as the most promising biotech start-up company at the recent BioWest 2008 Venture Showcase Competition. Oberon, which uses a proprietary process to convert wastewater from food and beverage companies into a protein-rich ingredient for animal feed, was given top honors out of 22 total entries by a panel consisting of five venture capitalists: one from the sponsoring Colorado law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, one local venture capitalist, and three out-of-state venture capitalists.

Denver, CO (PRWEB) December 9, 2008 -- Oberon FMR, Inc. was selected as the most promising biotech start-up company at the recent BioWest 2008 Venture Showcase Competition.

Oberon was given top honors out of 22 total entries by a panel consisting of five venture capitalists: one from the sponsoring Colorado law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, one local (Colorado) venture capitalist, and three out-of-state venture capitalists. The panel was provided business and financial plans by each of the companies under consideration. Based on the initial submissions, the panel narrowed down the 22 entries to a half-dozen , each of whom gave 20-minute presentations to the panel and conference attendees.

Oberon was chosen as the winner of the 2008 Dorsey & Whitney Venture Showcase Award on November 13, 2008 based on a combined assessment of their original documentation, final presentation to the five panelists, and the perceived future value to venture capitalists and society at large.

Oberon FMR converts wastewater from food and beverage companies into a protein-rich ingredient for animal feed using a proprietary process. The term "FMR" is an acronym for "fish meal replacement." The protein that results is in high demand by feed companies - in particular by manufacturers supplying feed to industrial-size fish farms around the world, an industry that generates roughly $13 billion per year in sales and is projected to continue to grow. The company is currently conducting feeding trials both with large feed manufacturers and third-party research institutions across multiple species, including shrimp and trout.

According to Oberon CEO Randy Swenson, the company is seeking funding from investors "who have an interest in sustainability, aquaculture, and social issues associated with world hunger and eco-friendly means of waste management." Given the increasingly high cost to dispose of biosolids generated during traditional wastewater treatment, Oberon's method is believed to represent a significant cost savings for food and beverage companies. In addition, the technology could signify potential public relations coups for those who use it, due to increased consumer awareness of and support for products and companies that strive to "go green" in their manufacturing processes.

Oberon was founded in 2002 by Randy Swenson, Andrew Logan, and Seth Terry. Conceptual development, however, began over eight years ago in 2000 by Logan and Terry. According to company co-founder, Seth Terry, "This win is a real source of validation for Oberon in that it was awarded by venture capitalists that have only just learned about our company, not from our Series A investors or those organizations/companies behind earlier grants."

Oberon FMR, Inc. is committed to producing high quality animal feed ingredients that use renewable resources and promote both responsible economic growth and social benefit. The firm concentrates its efforts on manufacturing approaches that take a long-view perspective on sustainability.

Oberon's current focus addresses a major problem faced by the aquaculture industry, namely its reliance on a constrained resource: fish meal protein. Fish meal is produced from wild stocks of school fish generally considered undesirable for human consumption. Over the last decade, the supply of fish meal has remained stable, if not declining in the wake of extraordinary pressures placed upon natural marine fisheries. Nevertheless, demand for fish meal has increased significantly as fish farmers seek to meet a growing human appetite for fish meat, considered by many as the best food source for improving global diets. As a result, opportunity exists for ingredients to serve as replacements for fish meal in fish feed.

In order to pursue this opportunity, Oberon strives to develop, to manufacture, and to commercialize a fish meal replacement suitable for decreasing pressures on global fisheries while enabling increased production of farm-raised fish. Ultimately, the product may be incorporated into feed formulations for other animals as well.

Oberon's process technology has been developed to create the highest quality, sustainable protein feed ingredient available anywhere and can be beneficially adopted by many food and beverage manufacturers. Integration of Oberon's process can provide significant value to a host facility. This value can be represented in classic economic terms, but can also extend towards less easily quantified, though meaningful benefits. These benefits include: 1) elimination of hard costs associated with digestion and transportation of solids generated during wastewater treatment, 2) avoidance of soft costs such as possible exposure to negative public relations for off-site transport of biologically active material, 3) increased wastewater treatment capacity through the elimination of solids digestion, and 4) improved public perception with respect to corporate stewardship and sustainability.

Initially, the group received a National Science Foundation grant of over $1M with collaborators at the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado, and Yale University . The company then attracted a Series A offering at $900,000. According to Seth Terry , "The BioWest award comes at a crucial time for Oberon as we work to stimulate more investor interest for our Series B offering."

The annual BioWest Conference works to generate venture capital investors for bioscience companies, launched in 2002, is sponsored by the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA). 2008 was the fourth consecutive year of the Venture Showcase competition. Together, the Conference and Showcase are part of an overall effort to grow Colorado's workforce in the bioscience and medical device industries and to persuade investors that Colorado bioscience companies represent solid investment opportunities.


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