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Santa Clara, Calif.
Founders: Dr. Gerrit Klaerner, Dr. Scott Rocklage, Dr. Detlef Albrecht, and Dr. Jerry Buysse
VC Investment over the last four quarters: $33 million

In October 2007, Relypsa was spun out of Amgen (AMGN) by the founders of a previous biotech startup, Ilypsa, which the biotech company had acquired for $420 million earlier that year. The 47-employee company is developing treatments for hyperkalemia, a potentially deadly condition in patients with heart and kidney disease. By acting in the gastrointestinal tract only, Relypsa's drugs would reduce the risk of side effects that can occur with treatments that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Key to startup success: "... Intense focus, speed, and efficient use of capital. We have been able to take our lead product program from the initial clinical testing stage in a Phase 1 trial [investigational new drug] to Phase 2 clinical development in nine months, something that most drug discovery and development startups typically achieve ... in three to four years."