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A word from John Newby, CEO, Virginia Bio: This blog provides an update on upcoming events and important information that impacts our community, and spotlights industry leaders from state-of-the-art companies and research institutions driving the future of bioscience around the state, our region and our world.

 

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BioHealth Capital Region

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and helping to moderate the second annual BioHealth Capital Region Forum at MedImmune’s beautiful and booming headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD. Over 900 registered to attend, and for two days we heard leaders in science, business and policy from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

The purpose was to showcase the region’s biotechnology accomplishments, create new collaborations, and explore ways to accelerate the region’s progress towards the goal of becoming "top 3 by 2023” among the biotech clusters in the US. Speakers and panels examined local and regional efforts to boost the life science industry, explored effective models for driving innovation and collaborating successfully, and spotlighted fields of special accomplishment and advantage in the region. Speakers included Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

The conference frankly results from the leadership of MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca in Gaithersburg, gathering a growing number of companies and industry organizations to develop a stronger, deeper, more interconnected region. By doing so we will help all our firms and research universities succeed and accelerate our contribution to discovery and development of treatments and cures for the world.

Virginia Bio was honored to be invited to participate on the planning committee along with BioHealth Innovation, Tech Council of Maryland, GlycoMimetics and of course MedImmune. Many more organizations and companies in the region supported the event financially - enabling us to offer it free of charge to attendees, and others by providing speakers and panelists. Together they comprised a program that was national in scope, experience and expertise.

I had the privilege of moderating a panel featuring a variety of foundations located in the region and examining their impact on research and commercialization. Panelists were leaders of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Foundation for the NIH, The Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, with a biotech company CEO and a foundation national strategy consultant. (A complete agenda can be found here).

A highlight of the conference was a big step taken toward creating a shared definition, profile, identity and brand for the region. Over six months, a group of more than 50 company and public sector leaders have met with branding specialists to explore this issue. At the conference they unveiled the name and tag line of choice “BioHealth Capital Region. Advancing Science / Accelerating Innovation.” You’ll see Virginia Bio incorporating it at the bottom of our emails and on our website. You and organizations and companies throughout the region are invited to do the same as appropriate. You can use this link to get the preferred style file. Soon we’ll be announcing an open competition to create an icon/logo, so be prepared to get creative!

At Virginia Bio we share this regional vision. Our colleagues in DC and Maryland are strategic assets to success in the global competition that every one of our companies, and every one of our research universities faces, and in the race for faster cures to people in need worldwide. As they succeed, we are strengthened, and vica versa. We can build collaborations within and across state lines to drive forward research and commercial success. We can share opportunities and insights with colleagues. We can encourage sound state and federal public policy. We can improve the ways in which we nurture and train talent by sharing a coherent and complementary strategy.

We can do all this and remain spot on with our mission to grow the bioscience industry in the Commonwealth. We’ll just be doing it a little smarter, and with teammates.


Best Regards,

 

 

 

Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  biohealth  biotechforum16  medimmune  top3by2023  vabio 

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Virginia Women Building Bio: The XX Factor

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 24, 2016
Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

Over the past several months a steering committee of women from across the state and across many sectors of the bio industry have been planning a first-ever statewide conference highlighting and building on the contributions of women to the biosciences in Virginia.

Virginia Women Building Bio - The XX Factor will be a day-long experience, filled with expert presentations, interactive discussions and networking aimed at building a stronger bioscience industry, stronger companies and institutions, stronger collaborations and stronger individuals.

We are soon to finalize the date and location in Northern Virginia for this terrific event.

The event promises to bring together leaders from life science companies, entrepreneurs, researchers, funders, professional firms and public policy makers, research institutions, health care systems and will provide information, advice and open discussion on important topics. Topics will include finding sources of investment, collaborations in research and commercialization, developing employees and leaders in the ever changing workforce, and networking.

Breakouts, panel discussions, structured breaks and a capstone networking reception will provide generous opportunity to make new acquaintances, explore collaborations and renew existing ties.

This will be the first time women in all sectors of bioscience have come together from across Virginia, to identify needs and opportunities, identify leaders across the state in all fields, make connections and learn from one another. We expect this to be the start of an annual event bringing women together.

Prominent leaders of the industry who have confirmed their intent to participate include US Representative Barbara Comstock, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and Amy Caro Vice President and General Manager Health Division at Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

Watch for the announcement of date and place coming soon. Thanks to our Conference Committee and our sponsors who make it all possible. If you would like to help plan and prepare this terrific conference, let us know.

Best Regards,

 

 

 Jeff Gallagher
  CEO

Tags:  conferernce  thexxfactor  vabio  virginia bioscience  vwbb 

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Collaboration is the Key to Success

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results” -Andrew Carnegie

For two years we have had the pleasure and responsibility of Ieading a team effort of leaders across the state to develop a common vision for a more robust and dynamic bioscience industry in Virginia, proposing concrete steps policy makers could implement to help. And here, near the end, Carnegie’s quote rings more true than ever before to me as I survey the many groups of people we represent.

I would like to spotlight several examples now in the news, and add a corollary to Carnegie: a mindset to seek to create value in everything we do. Act to grow the pie, not simply take a slice.

Bioscience businesses, of course, have to collaborate to thrive. We are masters at it, "virtual biotechs” being the extreme case. Whether it’s working with the members within the organization, closing an important deal with a customer or partner that is good and incentivizing to all sides, or developing a new product with contractors and consultants, effective collaboration is the key to successes.

I have been amazed over the last months at the time and energy the great majority of General Assembly members bring to their responsibilities during the warp speed months of a Session. I have seen the impact that working together can have on getting things done, and getting good things done. Last weekend the House and Senate announced their versions of the state budget, and the bioscience R&D and the industry did not do as well as we hoped, or even as well as in the Governor’s budget. So we will be working over the remaining few weeks to try to improve that outcome, and continue to paint the vision for the months and years and Sessions ahead (to see current status of state policy initiatives, click here).

Virginia is home to extraordinary research universities with strengths in varied fields, and they serve as the engine for much of the Commonwealth’s innovation in the biosciences. One continuing opportunity is to help them effectively collaborate on significant matters. Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC), "the Catalyst”, provides grants to accelerate translational research and commercialization of breakthrough technologies in the life sciences. VBHRC creates stronger working partnerships between Virginia academic research universities, the biotechnology industry and health delivery systems. This leads to more collaborative research and the ability for stronger, larger, research centers. The results of the first several years speak for themselves, with terrific projects, collaborations where there were none before, large private matching and almost a 30:1 ROI measuring grants awarded: follow on funding. VBHRC is a critical part of the long range structure and strategy, working its way through the General Assembly, to support long term research/industry building with support for hiring outstanding researchers and seeding Centers of Excellence (click here to view VBHRC weave map).

Medimmune, just over the Potomac River in Gaithersburg, MD, is the region’s premier biopharma company. Yet it recognizes the benefit of collaboration. In fact for two years MedImmune has been working to bring the Maryland/DC/Virginia bioscience businesses and research centers together, with regional conferences, regional work groups to uncover and articulate strengths, and informal dinners for CEOs across the region. This type of collective effort will help grow the region’s biotech ecosystem and chart a course toward becoming one of the "top three biotech hubs by 2023”. Medimmune has initiated discussions with Virginia state officials offering to partner with the Commonwealth to grow the biotech industry in the state.

Finally, personalized medicine requires collaboration among doctors from many different specialties, technologists to create and develop new tools and patients. The recently announced plans to create the Inova Center for Personalized Health embody this type of collaboration. The collaborative promise of the new campus will stimulate the growth and success of high technology life science companies, world class researchers, eminent clinicians, leading to the expansion of the life science related economic sector and state of the art clinical medicine in Virginia and the greater Washington region.

The list of Virginia universities and companies building the value in healing, feeding and fueling the world can go on and on – Virginia Tech Carilion, UVA’s many efforts, VCU Engineering School’s Medicines for All Initiative, and on and on. In later letters we will examine more of them, to inspire and connect us even further.



Best Regards,


Jeff Gallagher
CEO

 Attached Files:

Tags:  bhrc  cu  eamwork  eneral assembly  io  irginia bioscience  medimmune  nova  ollaboration  tate policy  tcri  va 

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Virginia Legislation Needs You

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

The 2016 legislative session has kicked off here in Richmond and its time for everyone to make a difference. This General Assembly faces an urgent need to develop smart policies to jumpstart diversified, high-tech, high-wage job and economic growth across the state. Investing in the bioscience/biomedical fields can produce the growing economic returns Virginia needs to provide great jobs and support the state budget. Over the last year, Virginia Bio has led industry and research university leaders on crafting a comprehensive plan to dramatically grow the bioscience economy for decades to come (details can be found here).

Most of these important programs support the growth of all technology industries. Others focus on biosciences to jumpstart the tremendous potential untapped in the state. Taken together, they complement and complete one another to form a strong framework on which private industry will build an industry of national prominence. The plan is already reflected in the Introduced Budget. We urge the General Assembly to maintain and support the Virginia Bio plan as it develops its budget amendments.

Some key points of the initiative:

•Increase funding for Virginia Bioscience Health Research Corporation. The “Catalyst’s” grants match private dollars to fund high commercial impact research collaborations of two or more Virginia universities with industry.

•Create a Fund to support game changing in-bound biopharma investment of global stature to accelerate development of a complete, nationally ranked, bio industry in Virginia.

•Increase funding for tax credits that support all technology industries. These credits include Angel Investor tax credit and R&D tax credit (If you have benefited from either of these tax credits, please contact me so you can share your story of their significance and impact).

•Create a Virginia Research Alliance to systematically grow economic activity in all technologies, bending universities' behavior towards commercialization and into alignment around strengths with industry.

Throughout the Session, industry leaders from around the state will be visiting to describe the opportunity and answer your questions. Would you like to find out what you can do? Please click here to find your legislator and let them know you support the Virginia Bioscience Economic Initiative. Feel free to contact me directly at any time, and join the policy group if you are interested.


Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  legistlation  session  tax credit  the catalyst  virginia bioscience 

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What’s up with “Nano”?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

I loved the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” But in bioscience innovation and commercialization, don’t diss the really small stuff. It’s called “Nano” - Nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanosurfaces. And it’s big.

What’s up with “Nano”? First of all, materials can have very different properties and function in unique ways when structured at the nanoscale. When particles are created with dimensions of about 1–100 nanometers (where the particles can be “seen” only with scanning electron and atomic force microscopes and the like) the materials’ properties change significantly from those at larger scales.

Quantum effects rule the behavior and properties of particles, and in this size range properties such as melting point, fluorescence, electrical conductivity, magnetic permeability, and chemical reactivity change as a function of the size of the particle. Nanoscale gold particles, for example, change significantly from those at larger scale, and that can be put to practical use: nanoscale gold particles selectively accumulate in tumors, where they can enable both precise imaging and targeted laser destruction of the tumor by means that avoid harming healthy cells.

Nanoscale materials have enormously larger surface areas than similar masses of larger-scale materials. A cubic centimeter solid has a surface area of 6 square centimeters. Fill that same volume with 1-nanometer-sized cubes—1021 of them, each with an area of 6 square nanometers, and their total surface area comes to 6,000 square meters - bigger than a football field.

Now add in the observation that nature has perfected nanotechnology - most biological processes occur at the nanoscale. The diameter of hemoglobin is 5.5 nanometers, and a strand of DNA about 2 nanometers.

With this, one can begin to imagine why there’s excitement that nanowires, Bucky balls, gold nanoparticles, even nanobots can make unprecedented contributions not only to medicine, in the design of tools, the discovery and development of treatments and therapies, but also to environmental and agricultural challenges the facing the world in the coming decades.

The federal agencies of public sciences are on to it. NIH has a Nanomedicine Program and an NIH/NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, and its website provides a good overview of the science and biomedical applications. NIST has a separate Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), and NSF, too, has a Nanoscience Project.

In our state, the Virginia Nanotechnology Initiative (VNI) is a statewide consortium of Virginia's universities, federal labs, state agencies, and industrial partners, dedicated to promoting collaborative nanotechnology research, workforce development, technology transfer and commercialization. Established through seed funding from Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), VNI goals include building a "nanotechnology community" in Virginia and placing the state in the forefront of nanotechnology research and innovation. 

A quick (and incomplete) tour around the programs and centers at our universities and colleges includes the following:

• College of William and Mary – The Department of Applied Science works in Nanostructures & Thinfilms, and has the Nanomaterials and Imaging Lab.

• George Mason University - The Mason Nanotechnology Forum has developed a Graduate Certificate in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience, and the Mason Nanotechnology Initiative opens a space for discussion and planning to nanoscience and nanotechnology across the university.

• Old Dominion University – The Xu Group performs cutting-edge research on bio- and nano- technologies and ultrasensitive analytical methodologies to address fundamental and practical questions in chemical, biochemical and biomedical research.

• University of Virginia - multiple resources and centers dot the grounds. The Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research (nanoSTAR) is a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team striving to advance research & development at the nanoscale, working in nanomedicine, nano and quantum electronics, and energy/environment through partnerships with academia, industry, and national laboratories. NanoSTAR programs, including Seed Grants and the Spring Symposium. Researchers are spinning out companies, including CIT grant recipients. The Center for Nanoscopic Materials Design (MRSEC) and the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility provide important and cutting edge resources for the university and collaborators. UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science’s departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Biomedical Engineering have formed a program in nanomedicine.

• Virginia Commonwealth University – offers a Ph.D. in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Departments of Chemistry and Physics, and at the School of Engineering the Biomedical Engineering Program includes the NanoMedicine Lab and the Nanomaterials Core Characterization Facility.

• Virginia Tech - Core resources on campus include the Micro and Nano Fabrication Laboratory and the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Lab (NCFL). Other foci are the Advanced Materials Group, Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, the Nano2Earth Project and NanoBioEarth Research Group. Virginia Tech recently won a spot in the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) a five year National Science Foundation award to focus on the interactions of nanomaterials the soil, water, air, and biological systems. Translational Nanomedicine is explored by the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, ICTAS and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI). At the Wake Forest Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Nanomedicine & Nanobioengineering provides a center of bioresearch at the nano level. Virginia Tech also offers a B.S. in nanoscience.

• Virginia’s Community Colleges offer a half dozen courses in nanotechnology and nanomaterials. And Virginia public schools have nanotechnology in their sights as well. October is “Techtober” in Virginia, and this year the National Nano Initiative, MathScience Innovation Center, and Virginia Department of Education partnered to offer a Web meeting for teachers to explore “Nanotechnology: Applications, Educational Pathways & Resources. Click here to see a nice video from the meeting.


Statewide an increasing number of companies, big and small, are putting nanoscale discoveries to use in areas from therapeutics to diagnostics, biosensors, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, medical devices, environmental resource remediation and treatment, and agricultural use.

It’s hard to say “think big” with Nano; perhaps it’s think differently, use your imagination and be open to big improvements in bioscience innovation and commercialization.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  nanoparticles  nanotechnology  ODU  University of virginia  UVA  VCU  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience  Virginia Tech  William and Mary 

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Family Funds Investing in Bioscience Innovation

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 19, 2015
Updated: Monday, November 16, 2015

Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

It was a family fund that fifteen years ago provided my startup specialty pharma company with its first capital. The scion of a wealthy East Coast family some years prior had received an experimental drug in a clinical trial that halted the progression of a deadly disease after approved therapeutics had not. From then on a percent of the fund’s investments were directed to bioscience startups with a compelling business plan to provide new treatments and cures. The investment had a financial objective, to be sure. But the investor was focused on the clinical outcome as well, and his board designee was patient and helpful in many ways as we ran the crooked road of drug discovery, development and commercialization.

 

Today, family funds – sometimes called “family offices”, or “home offices”, or “high net worth (HNW) individuals” worldwide are increasingly a significant direct source of funding for startups, emerging and mature bioscience companies, bypassing traditional private equity funds and snapping up opportunities left by the great VC migration. The number of funds and the dollars at their disposal are staggering.


Last Thursday we brought together experts deeply engaged in the family fund sector at our monthly Virginia Bioscience Commercialization Panel Series. If you missed this eye-opening discussion, remember we livestream these events and archive the video for Virginia Bio members to watch at their convenience at the News and Events, Video Library section of our website.


Our three panelists occupy very different vantage points. Peter Harris is a Vice President & Managing Director at Axel Johnson, the investment fund of a prominent European family. He is involved with cultivating and evaluating new investment opportunities and providing strategic and operational support to existing portfolio companies. While the family is European, the Fund has a significant investment in a Virginia medical device company and Peter and colleagues operate the funds’ investments in the US out of NYC and Charlottesville. Tom McKenzie is Senior Vice President, Membership, of Cavendish Global, as well as a principal with Capital Partners LLC, a private equity advisory firm. Cavendish Global is an innovative and relatively new organization - a community of global family funds intent on making impact investments in new and emerging biomedical companies. Tom scouts the country for companies to bring to the attention of the community. Paul Romness is Senior Advisor to McKenna & Associates in the Life Sciences and issue advocacy campaigns. McKenna is a versatile DC strategic consulting firm specializing in management and fundraising, and assists family funds with investment opportunities.


Some key points from the panel. Family funds have more flexibility than institutional private equity and VCs because they answer to themselves, not to recruited investors. This allows them greater freedom from strict investment criteria like asset grade, deal structure, sector or geography. They tend to have a longer time horizon, looking to build capital not harvest a rapid return. They may accept greater risk, in terms of sector, stage of investment and even deal structure, to accomplish other goals. And other goals they do have: perhaps a sweet spot based on family history and values, such as interest in funding solutions to a particular disease. The result – family funds operate in many different ways. Still, it’s an investment, not a philanthropic gift. The bioscience company has to evidence a strong business case to reach returns, as well as impact. And while the role of family funds making direct investments is relatively new, it’s unlikely to be a mere fad. No matter how many years pass, wealth will be accumulated, the wealthy will seek investments, families’ happiness will be bound to sickness and health of their members, the urge to impact the spread of medicine and human health will continue to call good souls, and the potential returns of innovation in the biomedical sector will draw good looks from savvy investors.


No discussion of capital formation can end without reminding you of JP Morgan Health Care Conference Week in San Francisco on January 10 - 15, 2016. There’s an exciting new development this year, and one could say it has to do with “Families”. This year we are greatly expanding our Sunday evening reception. The Virginia Reception, co-hosted with University of Virginia Darden School of Business, will be held at 5:00pm on January 10 in the Velvet Room of the Clift Hotel.


Just two weeks ago Darden was rated by The Economist as the #2 MBA school in the world. Darden is inviting its extensive family of alumni in the biotech and health care industry, and Virginia Bio is inviting the leaders of our member companies who are seeking capital and strategic deals. In San Francisco in January, these Type A Virginians act more like family, sharing connections and talking one another up to help one another succeed on the tough but important journey they walk along together.


We’re also expanding the number of slots we will make available free to Virginia Bio members in our hotel room overlooking Union Square for private and semi-private meetings. See you there!

If your organization is not a member of Virginia Bio yet, give us a call.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  Axel Johnson  Cavendish Global  Darden  Family Funding  funding  JP Morgan Healthcare Conference  McKenna & Associates  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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Help Drive Virginia’s Economy

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 19, 2015
Updated: Monday, October 19, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Virginia faces an urgent need to diversify and grow its economy. This need has made economic development a rare potential area of cooperation between the General Assembly and the Governor, Republicans and Democrats.

Bioscience commercialization presents a unique opportunity to Virginia to meet this need and solve this crisis. The state has all the pieces to base significant long term growth and to grow into a leading state economy. We need to focus and align, make some investments and incentivize private sector activity.

For these reasons, I have been working for over a year with policymakers in the Administration and General Assembly to gather facts on bioscience commercialization policies and results within Virginia and in other states. We have collected data on demonstrated return on investment. We have helped to mount three statewide gatherings of Virginia bioscience leaders. We helped coordinate statewide working groups commissioned by the Governor and brought their reports back to an audience of state leaders, setting out principles for a plan that would take Virginia from where it is today to a greatly expanded and mature bioscience economy. At Virginia Bio's April strategic Board retreat, the organization set our top priority to prepare, propose and fight for a plan to enact in budget and legislation during the 2016 General Assembly, which begins in January.

This week, on Tuesday, October 20 at 12pm we will conduct a webinar for our members to present the plan that has been developed, answer questions, and enlist your active support in making the plan reality. Click here for the webinar link.


I will share the plan one on one with policymakers and present it to gatherings of stakeholders statewide from now until January.

We also will enlist your help starting immediately and continuing over the coming months to socialize the plan. We need members to meet with their legislators and with the members of the Administration and urge them to support the plan, support the industry and do something significant to make a significant difference in the future of Virginia's economy.

This is a topic in which virtually every elected legislator and public official agrees, and declares publicly its importance. It is our task to assure these people make it a priority against the many competing claims of legacy programs and louder voices. The Governor has famously and repeatedly announced bioscience is a top priority. We need to work to assure that in his proposed budget and legislative agenda that is indeed the case. Legislators have declared their support for economic development. We need to be in repeated contact with them to explain the importance of the bioscience initiative and monitor the response in the progress of legislation and the decisions of the money committees in each chamber whether that is in fact the case.

I would love to hear from those of you who would be willing to help us by visiting, making calls or writing emails to your legislators, sending letters to the editor, or hosting legislators for a tour of your facility to communicate the importance of bioscience commercialization and your support of Virginia Bio's plan firsthand.

Please join us for the webinar, and then help us convert this historic opportunity to a real and significant achievement for the state.

We can create many thousands of new high paying jobs, while helping to heal, feed and fuel the world.


Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  Economic Development  funding  government  Governor  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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Accelerating Progress in Virginia Bioscience Commercialization

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

A sage cautioned “don’t confuse familiarity with understanding.”

Many of us are familiar with the research and commercialization parks and accelerators which are available for biotech commercialization around the state. But don’t blink, and don’t stop asking questions, because the facilities we know are evolving, and new resources are developing across the state to meet the great opportunity bioscience commercialization presents for the Commonwealth.

Let’s start with an update on the Prince William County Science Accelerator at Innovation Park. This space, opened in June 2014, offers leading life science and biotechnology companies 9 wet labs to grow their business at an intersection of university research and commercialization. This accelerator is the only public-private, commercially available wet laboratory space in Northern Virginia, located less than an hour away from key government buildings such as the National Institute of Health and the FDA.

Already, the accelerator is moving fast. ISOThrive LLC, a leader in nutritional ingredients that benefit the gut microbiome, expanded into larger lab space within the accelerator this past April. Since then, it has partnered with George Mason University’s MicroBiome Analysis Center to push along their research into the commercialization process. In addition to ISOThrive, two other companies, Ceres Nanosciences and Virongy, make use of the county’s accelerator. Ceres endeavors to seize the future of diagnostics by researching and commercializing novel sample processing techniques. Virongy, a virological reagent and tool company, provides cutting-edge services that catalyze scientific discoveries, enhance disease treatments, and more.

In Richmond, the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, to strengthen its role in leading bioscience commercial innovation, has transitioned the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park Corporation Board to The Innovation Council. With an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, the Council, a 501-c(3) entity with 19 members, will seek to leverage individuals and organizations doing groundbreaking work in order to ensure commercial success and benefit the state economy at large. The Council boasts leaders in business, education, and other fields as part of their membership, and also received a helping hand from Dr. Rao, President of Virginia Commonwealth University in the form of a $1.2 million dollar commitment to be matched with other sources of funding.

In Danville, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research recently completed a strategic reevaluation, and a focus on translational research and support of entrepreneurs and commercialization rose to the top. Its top notch research facilities, leaseholds and common facilities are a great home for the right bio business. IALR’s mix of labs, office and meeting facilities was a perfect spot to host the highly successful statewide Governor’s Forum on Agriculture and Industrial Bio earlier this month.

In Virginia Beach, an impressive year long, community wide economic development planning process, led by the city’s Mayor and top corporate leaders, has recommended an emphasis on biomedical industry development, and designated a 150+ acre tract adjacent to LifeNet Health and Sentara Princess Anne to set aside as biomedical research and commercialization park. Early steps in the plan call for the development thereof a bioscience accelerator.

Back to Northern Virginia, the plans for Inova’s Center for Personalized Health on the massive campus formerly the home to ExxonMobil continue to take shape. The public announcements and interviews are exciting, and it’s clear that an integral element of the campus will be facilities and services to house and support biomedical and biotech startups.

Another new, and very different, player on the scene is the new LiftOff Health, in Arlington, that is accelerating commercial expansion and networking by functioning as a digital platform of collaboration/incubation, with dreams of serving and attracting any entrepreneur around the world. This approach appears at first glance to fit companies in mobile health and e-health - involved in the “creative destruction of medicine”, as Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, puts the impact of wireless and Internet on medicine and research. Awarables, for example, is a company using LiftOff Health which provides men and women who suffer from chronic sleep disorders an app that tracks details about their sleep patterns.

Check out other parks and accelerators you may be familiar with across the state, and equip yourself with up to date information: Virginia Tech’s impressive Corporate Research Center “CRC” in Blacksburg, UVA Research Park in Charlottesville, Innovation Research Park at ODU, and Innovation Village @ Rockingham by SRI Shenandoah Valley among others. In fact, click here to view our VA Life Sciences Map. On the top row of the map window, choose the Snapshots button, then select Research Park or Accelerator Organization Types to view all together.

We are picking up the pace and getting smarter about creating on the “Virginia Common” the physical and expert resources needed by researchers and entrepreneurs to succeed in commercializing bioscience innovations. The accelerators, incubators and parks are diversifying and providing more value, helping to propel the biotechnology industry into the future, which is looking bright. That means more jobs, more cures and more health for the commonwealth.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  accelerator  Ceres  commercialization  Economic Development  IALR  Innovation council  Inova  Institute for Advanced Learning and Research  ISOThrive  LifeNet  LiftOff  MicroBiome  prince william  Research  Scripps  Sentara  SRI Shenandoah  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience  virginia biotech  Virongy 

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Ag/Bio - Rapidly Growing High Value Sector

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 27, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

On Wednesday, September 9, we are helping to mount the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural and Industrial Bio, in Danville at the impressive Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

For the first time ever in Virginia, we’ll gather the companies, researchers and members of the agricultural community working in this rapidly growing high value sector where hi-tech meets Virginia’s largest private industry.

Agricultural and Industrial biotechnology is enabling the world to feed its growing populations and supply fuel and materials to its growing economies in an affordable, sustainable and environmentally sound manner. At the end of this letter, I provide a snapshot of field for those who are unaware.

This rapidly growing sector provides an opportunity to add new hi-tech strength to a pillar of Virginia’s economy. In turn this will strengthen the state’s traditional biomedical biotech industry because of the commonality of skills, talents, resources, supplies, equipment and services required to succeed in R&D and commercialization.
Thanks to generous sponsors, the event is free of charge.

It’s a great agenda on September 9, which will enable attendees to learn in one day, in one place what’s going on in the industry in Virginia, to meet the key players, to better understand the opportunities, to assess public policy and start to think about moving forward.

 

- In a morning and afternoon lightning round, we’ll hear from ten companies, large to small from all across Virginia working across many different areas of ag/ind bio, and we’ll hear from ten researchers from universities and private institutions doing exciting and promising work across the field.

- We’ll hear from Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Director, Biotechnology Crop Commercialization Center, with our friends at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center some of the steps they’ve taken in the last five years to become one of the top ag bio centers in the US, and opportunities to collaborate.

- A panel of federal, state and private funders will explore opportunities to fund commercial efforts in this field.

- We’ll hear from Shawn Semones Ph.D., Director of Applied Discovery Research & Development, Salem Virginia Site Lead, Novozymes North America, Inc., one of the world’s leading ag bio companies, on the company’s work, outlook and trends.

- Top state policy makers, including Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, and Delegate Steve Landes will share ideas on the state’s role in supporting the development of the industry.


I look forward to seeing you there! Click here to register now for this important event.


Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

 

Agricultural biotechnology is a rapidly expanding, broad and dynamic industry that applies a range of advanced biotechnology tools, such as genetic engineering, to improve plants and animals, to develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses, to make agriculture more efficient, sustainable and profitable, and to improve food quality and safety.

Biotechnology can engineer crops to tolerate specific herbicides, making weed control simpler and more efficient, and to be resistant to specific diseases and pests, improving control and decreasing the use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides. Crops with the ability to grow in salty soils or better withstand drought conditions are entering the marketplace. These require less fuel, labor, fertilizer, and water, decreasing pressures on land and wildlife habitats.

Biotechnology creates improved foods, by increasing certain components such as vitamins and other nutrients, and reducing levels of others, such as naturally occurring toxicants, allergens, or saturated fats.

US farmers have rapidly adopted many of these new varieties: 88% of the corn, 94% of the cotton and 93% of the soybeans planted in the U.S. were varieties produced through genetic engineering. Use is spreading globally as well, helping countries keep pace with demand for food while reducing costs.

Genetically engineered bacteria and yeasts produce vitamins and nutritional supplements for human food, and improve the production of fermented beverages and foods.

Biotechnology advances improve animal food, and enable animals to more effectively use nutrients present in feed, and produce new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for animal disease, and additional markets for animal products.

Biotechnology provides a wealth of tools improving the safety of our food supply chain.

Industrial biotechnology applies biotechnology tools to traditional industrial processes (“bioprocessing”) and the manufacturing of products (such as fuels, chemicals and plastics) from bio-based renewable feedstocks.

New and more valuable sources of biomass, and new more efficient methods of bioprocessing, are being developed continually. Current commercial products include bio-based plastics with applications ranging from cosmetics, home cleaning products and antifreeze to food packaging and car parts, and chemicals used in the production of detergents, textiles, pulp and paper, leather, metals, fuels and minerals.

There is rapid innovation in renewable chemicals, frequently co-produced as side streams of biofuels and bioenergy, providing new intermediates, novel products, or direct replacements for petroleum products.

Genetically engineered crops can serve as factories for the production of a wide array of chemicals, including new medicines.

Tags:  agriculture  funding  government  Governor  IALR  industrial biotechnology  Institute for Advanced Learning and Research  mcauliffe  Novozymes  Paul Ulanch  Shawn Semones  steve landes  Todd Haymore  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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Federal Lawmakers Focus on Bio

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

 

After several years of relative inactivity, federal lawmakers are in gear again. And so are we at Virginia Bio.

 

The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R.6) was passed in the House of Representatives on July 10 by an impressive vote of 344 to 77. This bill was bipartisan in its creation and authorizes several changes to the approval process for drugs and medical devices.

 

The bill also authorizes an increase of $8.7 billion for the NIH and a $550 million increase for the FDA over 5 years. The bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise the drug approval process by allowing patient experience data to be considered in the risk-benefit assessment of new drugs; requiring the FDA to qualify drug development tools; allowing the FDA to rely on data previously submitted for a different purpose to expedite the development of certain drugs; and establishing a streamlined data review program for approval of drugs for additional indications. The bill requires the FDA to establish a program for priority review of breakthrough medical devices, identify types of devices that do not require a report preceding introduction, and rely on a third party to determine the safety and effectiveness of changes to medical devices. The bill requires manufacturers and distributors of investigational drugs for serious conditions to publish their policies on compassionate requests; revises and extends the priority review voucher program for rare pediatric diseases; and requires a pharmaceutical and technology ombudsman within the CMS to respond to complaints from manufacturers of medical products. The bill allows Medicare prescription drug plan sponsors to limit certain beneficiaries’ access to frequently abused drugs and mandates interoperability and certification of electronic health records. The House overturned a last-minute amendment that threatened the bill’s passage by proposing to make the new NIH and FDA spending discretionary, rather than mandatory.

 

The Senate is working up and is expected to consider its own version of the bill in the Fall.


Intellectual property protection is at issue on a couple of fronts. Reform of the US Patent system is the work of H.R. 9, the Innovation Act, which has been captained by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA). The bill was poised to reach the floor any day, before being slowed down for additional consideration until after the August recess. The bill offers multiple procedural changes to the patent process, many of which are inspired by the scourge of patent trolls famously impacting the IT industry. Virginia Bio has joined voices with BIO, PhRMA, MDMA, the American Association of Universities, the National Small Business Administration and the National Venture Capital Association, among others, to push back against several proposals and urge other important changes. Inter partes review proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the PTO is effectively changing the legal standard and disrupting the certainty of patent validity. While true trolls in the IT space must be deterred, the bioscience innovation sector is so different than IT that these fixes are extremely harmful, and threaten the affordable access to dependable patents on which all investment in our sector depends. The Senate has its own version of the legislation under development. If you are interested and willing to speak with your federal lawmakers about these issues, please do so, or contact me for further information and assistance.


A very different legislative venue for IP issues, is consideration of the merits of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, now in final stages of negotiation among the Administration and counterparts from foreign nations around the Pacific Rim. Congress will have the opportunity to vote the agreement up or down when reported by the President under fast track authority. At issue is the protection of biological drugs. US law recognizes the special character of biological drugs and protects them with a 12 year period of data (or “regulatory”) exclusivity: that is, data prepared and submitted to FDA by the innovator as a condition of approval may not be used by competitors to support applications of other (usually biosimilar) drugs. The 12 year period is set by statute in the US, and balances the goal of enabling innovators to benefit from their research investment and risk taking without competitors taking a free ride, while creating a time certain after which reference is allowed to ease the entry of biosimilars into the marketplace.


Medical Device Tax Repeal. After several tries over as many years, the House on June 15 passed H.R. 160, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015.” The bill would repeal the 2.3 percent medical device excise tax on manufacturing and importing medical devices, which was implemented through the Affordable Care Act and has proven to be highly unpopular. The tax is expected to bring in less than $3.2 billion in tax revenue each year over the next 10 years to help fund Obamacare. According to the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the tax is expected to cost medical device manufacturers approximately $194 million per month and the loss of up to 43,000 jobs in the medical device industry. The Senate is now in the final stages of finishing its consideration of an equivalent bill. President Obama has promised to veto the bill if it passes the Senate as well, though some observers believe there may be enough bipartisan support in Congress to secure the two-thirds majority needed to override the president and pass it into law without his signature.

 

User Fee Acts. Recently we have seen the various FDA regulated bioscience industries gearing up for the every five year process between industry and FDA to reauthorize PDUFA, GDUFA and MDUFA. Over the course of more than a year, in hearings and by written comment, the will review whether past improvements have achieved intended results, set the amounts and distribution for the voluntary industry user fee payments, and consider improvements to FDA standards and procedures going forth.

 

Recent visits. I recently visited various Congressional offices with a delegation of members of the coalition We Work for Health to point out the above issues and thank them for their support. This is a coalition of small and large companies in the biopharmaceutical industry, patient groups, large employers and chambers of commerce, united to highlight the importance of the industry, not only for individual health but for our nation’s economic health as well. Virginia Bio was a founder of the coalition, and I serve as co-chair. Members of the coalition held a series of meetings on Capitol Hill last week: Senator Tim Kaine’s Chief of Staff, Mike Henry; Senator Mark Warner’s Legislative Director Elizabeth Falcone and Health Legislative Assistant Marvin Figueroa; Congressman Dave Brat and his Legislative Director Kurt Couchman; Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and her Chief of Staff Susan Falconer; Congressman Morgan Griffith and his legislative aid Adam Harbison; and finally Congressman Don Beyer’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Hanlon.

 

If you’re interested in getting involved, to discuss or want more information, please let us know. We work closely with BIO, PhRMA, MDMA and AdvaMed to watch out for and act on the federal issues which impact our industries and our companies.

 

Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  21st century cure  federal  funding  government  Todd Haymore  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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