Auction lands $2.1 million for Elona Biotech assets

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An auction of the assets of Elona Biotechnologies Inc. on Thursday raised at least $2.1 million for the city of Greenwood.

The amount was far short of the amount Greenwood has pumped into the defunct biotech company.

Elona went into receivership in June after Greenwood officials filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the firm. The company failed after receiving more than $8 million in economic development incentives from the city over the past three years.

In 2010, Greenwood loaned the firm $6.4 million to help it build the production plant southeast of Interstate 65 and County Road 950 North. The city also gave Elona $1.5 million to help it win approval for its insulin from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and $500,000 for equipment.

In return, Elona said it expected to create at least 70 high-paying jobs, but the firm never really got off the ground.

Indianapolis-based Key Auctioneers got a winning bid of $1.55 million for the 50,000-square-foot building from local businessman Dennis Curlee.

Elona’s insulin-making patents and other intellectual property sold for $425,000 to a telephone bidder.

Other property, including clean-room equipment and furniture, sold for at least $150,000. Some bidding was still taking place late Thursday afternoon.

“While we obviously would have liked a higher recovery, we are confident in Key’s advertising of the property and are satisfied we received the best price possible under the circumstances,” Michael Tapp, president of the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission, said in a prepared statement.

The site drew more than 30 showings in the weeks leading up to the auction. Potential bidders from at least seven different countries participated in the auction for the intellectual property.

Founded by a former Eli Lilly and Co. scientist, Elona once was seen as a rising star in the biotech world. Gov. Mike Pence even visited the company in March 2012 as part of his “jobs tour,” a key element of his gubernatorial campaign.

However, the firm struggled to find investors. In January, Elona officials notified the city of financial troubles and said it was running out of cash. That information prompted the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission to declare Elona in default on $8.4 million in economic development incentives.

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