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State pension fund invests in Rochester venture

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is investing an additional $500,000 in OyaGen, Inc., a Rochester-based bio-pharmaceutical company focused on drug treatments for HIV/AIDs and other viral diseases.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli appeared in Rochester Friday to announce investment is being made through the Fund’s investment partner Trillium Group, LLC, which is also based in Rochester.

OyaGen is an emerging biopharmaceutical company focusing on the commercialization of editing enzyme technologies developed at the laboratory of Dr. Harold Smith at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“OyaGen is a perfect example of how we can do well for the members of the Retirement System while doing good for New York businesses,” DiNapoli said. “OyaGen performs groundbreaking research to advance the treatment of HIV and AIDS.  Not only is this an area where research is much needed, but it is also a great investment for the pension fund.”

As part of its In-state Private Equity Program, the latest infusion more than doubles the Fund’s investment in the company to more than $1 million since 2006. The Fund’s investment also leveraged a matching investment from a private investor. Trillium is leading the latest investment round with a goal of raising $3 million.

The new investment will fund on-going research, acquire key robotic equipment and build infrastructure for OyaGen to further its pharmaceutical development. The activities will position the company to file an investigational new drug application (IND) within the next year, a critical milestone to a Phase I clinical trial.  

The  In-state Private Equity Program, created in 1999, targets investment of state funds in the New York state economy to help generate jobs and private sector investment in the state.

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