Charleston-based dermatology drug and device firm Innocutis Holdings LLC announced Monday that it has received a $6.5 million investment from a Florida venture capital fund.
Innocutis, which specializes in late-stage marketing, received the cash infusion from Ballast Point Ventures almost five months ago, around the same time the company changed its name from JSJ Pharmaceuticals Inc. Innocutis didn't want to publicize it then for competitive reasons, according to Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Alba.
"We wanted to get the jump on some things, and it's working well so far," Alba said.
For instance, the money has enabled the company to hire about a half-dozen new sales representatives since the beginning of May, bringing its total staffing to about 35, Alba said. He said the company, roughly half of whose current employees are in Charleston, hopes to reach 45 or 50 employees by sometime next year "and take a breath there."
The rest of the investment proceeds will be used to develop Innocutis' products, which include a skin-stapling device and three main prescription drugs. Alba said Innocutis -- "innovation of cutis, which in Latin is skin" -- has "recommercialized" its skin cream Bionect within the past month and plans to release its second complementary surgical device in March.
"We're really going to be changing the dynamics of the way that physicians practice medicine in the areas of skin cancer treatment and repair," he said.
Alba and Innocutis CEO Joe Pecora, both medical sales veterans, were the two "J's" in JSJ Pharmaceuticals when they founded the company in 2005 in Philadelphia. The pair moved to Charleston in 2007, and in the most recent fiscal year, revenues were $10 million.
Between the name change, the recent investment and the creation of the charitable Innocutis Foundation, "I guess you could say we're growing up a little bit," Alba said.
Ernest Andrade, director of the Charleston Digital Corridor, praised Ballast's investment, which he called "real money" in a time of economic uncertainty. Andrade said it "opens up the doors" for other tech companies in the area to attract such investment, a sentiment Alba echoed.
"They said to me, 'Look we're coming to Charleston for board meetings, we're invested and vested in Innocutis, and we want another reason to be there," Alba said of Ballast, which is a joint venture between Raymond James Financial and the principals of South Atlantic Venture Funds. "They're on the hunt."