SHINE making progress but still needs investors: CEO

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Jim Leute
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

JANESVILLE—As a nuclear engineer trying to launch a radioisotope business, several things keep Greg Piefer up at night.

The founder and chief executive officer of SHINE Medical Technologies routinely thinks about the science, chemistry and technology associated with the medical isotope plant his company plans to build in Janesville.

Safety in all of the above also is top of mind.

Lately, Piefer has been thinking a lot about the funding for the start-up business he hopes will make and deliver isotopes by the second half of 2017.

“I'm feeling a lot more confidant now than I was six months ago,” Piefer said Wednesday at a community meeting the company hosted.

SHINE officials estimate construction, equipment and regulatory costs for the Janesville plant will hit $180 million.

The federal government has committed $25 million to the project, and the city of Janesville has offered a $9 million development agreement—including private loan guarantees—that is contingent on the company meeting several benchmarks, including federal licensing and the creation of at least 125 high-paying jobs.

Piefer said the company has spent about $30 million on the project.

The vast majority of the company's fundraising, however, is still to come.

“The good news is that we won't need most of it until we start construction,” he said.

The reasons for Piefer's increasing confidence are several.

The company is well into its Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety and environmental reviews that could lead to a construction permit and a groundbreaking for the $85 million plant next year.

Earlier this year, SHINE signed a distribution agreement with GE Healthcare to distribute the company's core product, molybdenum-99, an isotope used in more than 30 kinds of diagnostic imaging procedures and more than 40 million medical imaging tests each year.

Beyond the significance of GE as a customer, Piefer said GE has indicated a willingness to put SHINE in touch with investors.

The company also has hired investment strategy advisers and an investment banking firm that Piefer said should help the company raise money.

Earlier this week, SHINE agreed to discussions with Indonesian representatives about a possible investment in the Janesville plant and a second SHINE plant in Indonesia to serve the Eastern Hemisphere.

Piefer acknowledged the plant was originally planned to be in production in 2015. He said the delays have been frustrating but necessary.

One woman asked Piefer if the plant would be in production in 2017.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “We've had a lot of positive momentum in the last six months, but starting a viable commercial enterprise is not easy.”

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