Biotech Catches Eye of Bill Gates

For chief executives of startup biotechnology companies, traveling hat-in-hand to investor conferences in pursuit of new financing is an unrelenting task.

So it was a particularly good day for Michael Pellini, CEO of Foundation Medicine Inc., when an unsolicited query from Bill Gates popped up in his inbox last September.

The co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and global-health philanthropist had heard about Foundation’s new cancer diagnostic test and wanted more information about the company. The email didn’t mention any interest in investing in Foundation, and Dr. Pellini wasn’t actually looking for money—the company was poised to announce it had closed on a new round of financing. But Dr. Pellini wasted no time in responding.
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