The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced yesterday that it had awarded $5.4 million to a new biotechnology venture fund created by the industry's chief lobbyist and trade association.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced yesterday that it had awarded $5.4 million to a new biotechnology venture fund created by the industry’s chief lobbyist and trade association.

The four-year grant will be used by the nonprofit BIO Ventures for Global Health to encourage biotechnology companies to develop drugs for diseases now neglected by them because of disinterest and uncertainty about doing business in the Third World.

BIO Ventures was launched by the Biotechnology Industry Organization last year with funding from the Gates and Rockefeller foundations.

The venture fund plans to use the money to gather information for the industry on market demand, regulatory issues and distribution networks in developing nations.


Journalism project

hires Merrill Brown

Former RealNetworks and executive Merrill Brown will leave Seattle for New York City next month to take a position as national editorial director of News 21, a project by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

Known formally as News for the 21st Century: Incubators of New Ideas, News 21 is aimed at revitalizing journalism schools and the news business.

“In order for journalism to produce coverage of real impact and scale, there are going to have to be different ways of getting that work done,” Brown said. Since leaving RealNetworks in 2003, Brown has started several media businesses and consulted for news organizations.

Activated Content

Bellevue tech firm

names new CEO

Bellevue-based watermarking technology developer Activated Content has appointed Eric Silberstein as chief executive and director. He previously worked at Vancouver, B.C.-based CanCall and other technology startup companies.

The previous chief executive, Stuart Rosove, has taken a job with Beaverton, Ore.-based Digimarc, a minority shareholder in Activated Content.


Prostate-drug study

enrolls 170 patients

Dendreon, a Seattle biotech company, said yesterday it has completed enrolling patients in a clinical trial of Provenge in men with early-stage prostate cancer.

The placebo-controlled study has enrolled 170 men at 19 medical sites around the country. The company said it plans to analyze the trial’s results in the first half of 2006.

Dendreon stock rose 30 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $5.58 yesterday after the news.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Seattle Times staff and Reuters



Vietnam agrees

to 4-plane deal

Vietnam formally signed an agreement to purchase four Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as part of a series of commercial pacts witnessed by visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

The deal with Vietnam Airlines for the jets, worth up to $500 million, was made in December.

Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan noted before the signing that his country’s delegation arrived in the U.S. on a Boeing 777. He added with a smile: “The flight and landing were very smooth,” and said, “our next delegation will use a 787.”

Khai’s visit is the first by a leader of communist Vietnam to the United States since the Vietnam War.

Krispy Kreme

No explanation given

for discharge of execs

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts ousted six company executives yesterday but declined to name them or say why a special committee formed by the company recommended that they be discharged.

Five of the executives resigned and one retired, the troubled company said in a terse statement. A company spokeswoman declined to provide any additional comment.

Once a Wall Street darling, Krispy Kreme has been the target of investigations into the way it accounted for franchise buybacks and slower sales.

Krispy Kreme shares were halted for trading early yesterday. Its shares fell 1 cent to close at $7.66 yesterday.


Earnings outlook

lower than expected

Ford yesterday lowered its earnings outlook for the full year, citing continued weakness at its North American operations, and announced plans to reduce its management ranks by an additional 5 percent.

Ford said it now expects to earn $1 to $1.25 per share, 25 cents lower than its previous forecast issued in April. The company said the profit outlook for its North American operations has weakened over the last two months, and added that “continued supplier-related challenges” will also affect results.

Compiled from Reuters and The Associated Press