The field of genomics began to mature in the late 1990s with the technological advances made in DNA sequencing, the development of DNA databases and the evolution of bioinformatics. Almost every pharmaceutical company created or partnered on a genomics effort to advance gene therapy. Meanwhile, seed, chemical and biotechnology companies merged to form a new crop genetics industry.
For these companies, the focus was on developing technology to discover genes more rapidly. The key issue soon became determining the functions of the discovered genes and how those functions could be moderated relative to disease. Paradigm Genetics was created to address that issue the company married computer science and molecular biology to determine gene function that would be useful for crop protection and to identify useful traits for agriculture and enhanced nutrition for animals and people.
In fall 1997, the founders of the company, four scientific agricultural research managers who had recently left Novartis, founded the company. They were introduced to Dennis Dougherty, who took a seat on the companys board of directors and backed the company with a seed investment from Intersouth. The next year, Intersouth led the companys first round of financing.
Dougherty served as chairman of the board and helped guide the company as it grew from four founders to almost 100 employees over the next three years. The company made significant scientific progress, signing deals Bayer and other companies along the way. As chairman, Dougherty continued to serve as a sounding board for the management team and to help work through the complex issues of a high-growth company.
In 1999, the company started working towards an initial public offering. With the IPO window closing, the company filed in February 2000. But during the companys road show, the public markets collapsed and most IPOs were pulled by their respective investment banks. The board of directors worked to determine the proper strategy that would gain the company the financing it needed to continue its growth and development. In early May, the public markets showed improvement for life sciences and the company and bankers completed the road show and priced the deal. Paradigm completed its $42 million public offering on May 8, 2000.