University of Michigan spinoff Lycera hires CEO, shifts headquarters to Massachusetts
University of Michigan spinoff biotech firm Lycera Corp. has hired a CEO and is shifting its official headquarters to Massachusetts, where the new executive lives.
Lycera hired Boston area pharmaceutical industry veteran William J. Sibold as its CEO but plans to maintain its research operation at the Michigan Life Science Innovation Center in Plymouth Township.
The appointment of Sibold, the first CEO for the growing drug discovery firm, comes less than a year after Lycera landed $36 million in investment financing -- the biggest venture capital deal in Michigan since 2007. The company in November won AnnArbor.com Business Review's "Deal of the Year" in the "Banking and Finance" category.
Sibold said Lycera's financing played a key role in his decision to join the company.
"When you take a look across the startup biotech or biopharma world at the moment, most companies have very few months of cash left and are really struggling for that next phase," Sibold said. "Obviously one of the biggest attractions is that Lycera is very well-financed."
But Sibold said the biggest reason he decided to join Lycera was the firm's talented scientific team, including founder and U-M professor Gary Glick.
"The group of people that are assembled here is a dedicated group of people that have done it before," he said. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a group of people that have been successful discovering new drugs in the past."
Glick, Lycera's chief scientific officer, said he never considered leading the company himself.
"Having experienced professional management is really in the best interests of the company. It allows me to do what I do best," Glick said. "Bill is the absolute perfect fit for this job."
Sibold previously served as senior vice president of the $2.5 billion U.S. operation of Switzerland-based Biogen Idec.
Sibold will lead Lycera from its office in the Boston region, which will serve as the company's official headquarters. It's relatively common for Michigan life sciences companies to open offices on the East Coast in hopes of hiring talent there.
Sibold and Glick said that as the company grows, it would add employees in Michigan and Massachusetts based on the specific needs of its therapeutic candidates. Lycera is developing therapies to treat various immune diseases.
The firm has about 15 employees, at least 12 of whom work in Plymouth Township.