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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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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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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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THRIVE 2015: Where We Go From Here

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 21, 2015
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Thanks to each and every one of you who supported or attended THRiVE 2015, making our statewide conference a tremendous success by every measure.

Over 350 people attended throughout the day, both members and future members. You can enjoy scores of photos, plus press coverage plus most of the power point presentations of the day on our THRiVE conference webpage.

We networked morning, noon and night.

We made valuable contacts and heard from experts in a wide variety of fields.

We spoke in one voice to the Governor, Secretaries and legislators about transformationally improving how the state supports bioscience commercialization in Virginia. Thanks to the many industry and university members of the Governor’s Working Groups and public servants who made that unique event possible.

Together, we assembled and celebrated the largest gathering ever of Virginians, harnessing the power of data science for the biomedical enterprise.

And we provided a forum for the leaders of the Northern Virginia bioscience community to come together, at this time of so much growth by individual organizations and companies.

Most importantly, by doing this well, we further developed opportunities to work together to create the future of bioscience in Virginia.

So we will be busy.

In state public policy, over the next nine months we will be informing, counselling and advocating to the Administration and General Assembly a coherent package of policies and programs that will make a dramatic impact on biosciences in Virginia. We will need your help.

Starting immediately, we will be working with companies, universities, the state and other organizations to weave our strengths together and accelerate the momentum in the big data space. This is uncharted territory, with great upside. We will need your help.

And going forward, we will continue to increase our programming in Northern Virginia, to help our members and partners their reach their enormous potential and weave them together with the rich opportunities across the Commonwealth. We will need your help.

The explosion of scientific knowledge, the transformation of the delivery of health care on account of reimbursement, big data and mobile technology, the globalization of knowledge …. We live in interesting times. And we will be measured, individually and collectively, by how we respond to these extraordinary challenges and opportunities.

Virginia Bio looks forward to this wonderful challenge, because we are part of wonderful community of members and friends, and the work we are about is of such critical value to the Common wealth.

Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  commercialization  Economic Development  government  Governor  policy  Thrive  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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THRIVE: Providing Unique Opportunities

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Come join us next Thursday April 23 at our statewide conference THRiVE: Creating the future of bioscience in Virginia. This day-long event is a rare opportunity to gather with bioscience leaders from all aspects of our community from all across the state, and participate in unique, informative and game-changing programs.

Just this week VBHRC/”the Catalyst” announced it is opening another round of applications for grant funding for the development and commercialization of life science projects in the state, and Mike Grisham, CEO of the Catalyst, will be with us to explain the process and talk to would-be applicants. Be among the first to pursue this terrific opportunity!

You will rarely have another opportunity like this, to meet, in one convenient place, the grantmaking officers from several of the highest funding NIH Institutes, plus NSF, DARPA and DOD, to hear them discuss their programs and meet with interested people. Come take advantage of this convenient concentration of expertise and federal funding.

The afternoon’s plenary session, the Governor’s Forum on Bio and Big Data / Analytics, is the best chance you will ever have to become of aware of what is going on now in Virginia at the convergence of data science and bio, and meet many of the people who are doing it. We’ve assembled a superb lineup of national thought leaders and a large sampling of Virginia companies and researchers who are applying data science to bioscience and medicine in extraordinary ways. You’ll learn cutting edge work, get ideas, meet the actors, see the great opportunities ahead, and be there on Day One as we start working on how to take advantage of this strategic opportunity for Virginia to distinguish itself and take global leadership where data science and bio meet.

Join us! Enjoy your colleagues, and move ahead. By participating you’ll better equip yourself to help your organization reach its goals, and you’ll help the bioscience industry in Virginia thrive!

Click here for the full program agenda and to register now.

Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  big data  DARPA  DOD  funding  Governor  Mike Grisham  NIH  NSF  the Catalyst  Thrive  VBHRC  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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THRIVE: Creating the future of bioscience in Virginia

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 19, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

“A committee meeting is not necessarily the same as doing something,” a mentor once said to me.

Neither is a conference. But it can do something, something of enduring significance - if you start from Day One with that goal. That’s the goal that the Board and the Conference Steering Committee led by Dan Gonzalez set six months ago, and that’s what staff has been up to.

It’s a rare opportunity when the statewide leaders of industry, translational research, public policy and supporting firms and businesses come together in one place for our statewide conference. Two years ago in Charlottesville we looked back, told the story, honored outstanding contributions, and celebrated.

This year in Northern Virginia we will look ahead, and we will move ahead. That’s why we call the conference THRIVE: Creating the future of bioscience in Virginia.

Placing the conference in NoVa helps that community come together and show off, and gives us a chance to introduce the great bio activity there to the rest of Virginia. It also enables great programs throughout the day.

In the morning and in all one place for your convenience, we are bringing together the directors of SBIR programs at four of the highest funding NIH Institutes, plus NSF, DARPA and DOD. They’ll present in series on their programs, and hold one on one meetings. We’ll complement that extraordinary resource with a panel of a variety of different types of private funders to share insights about conditions, trends and opportunities.

We’ll bring to the conference key federal policy makers and experts to help us take an up close look at changing federal laws and regulations that make or break our companies and our industry. Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA–9) and staff, along with policy experts from BIO and ADVAMED will explain and take comments on the 380 page discussion draft legislation recently released from the Congressman’s Subcommittee on Health of the Energy and Commerce Committee, on the 21st Century Cures Initiative to reform FDA and NIH with today’s technology for tomorrow’s needs.

Economic development professionals from around the state will gather to roundtable best practices, strategies for success, learn about one another’s progress. We will unveil a new interactive web based map of the state with all biobusinesses and members pinned, sortable by type, with key word search, that will live on the Virginia Bio website and be open to all.

Governor McAuliffe will spend the day with us, and a number of key state legislators will participate as well. Starting late morning working groups that were formed at the Governor’s December 4 Summit will report findings and recommendations for state policies to move the needle for our companies, universities and industry. We hope this will provide the information and insights that will enable members of the different branches and parties to begin to work together over the coming months to formulate policies for the Governor’s first Budget and the next General Assembly to make real advances in how the state supports and enables the biosciences, which is a widely shared goal.

All afternoon the Governor will preside over The Governor’s Summit on Bio and Big Data / Analytics. Given our Northern Virginia location, the strengths around the state and the accelerating role of data science in bioscience, biomedicine and health care, this Forum has caught great momentum. The Forum will run from 1:30 – 5:00 pm. Thought leaders from around the country will start us off, describing current exciting work, and painting a picture of the fantastic opportunities ahead for those who reach for them. Then we’ll have a lighting round of Virginia companies, institutions and translational researchers doing extraordinary work in the space already, from startups to health care systems to global data companies. If you’re a bioscience company or researcher not quite sure how big data /analytics will directly impact or lead your work, if you’re into bio and big data / analytics already but you are continuously searching for new technology and techniques to push you ahead, or for collaborators, suppliers and clients, or if you’re big data but not big bio then come check out what all the excitement is about and spot your niche.

Every exhilarating day ends better with a two hour reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres, so we’ll have that for you immediately following the Forum. Hunt down the new contacts you spotted during the day, and renew your old ties from around the state. We’ll pause for a while during the reception to honor our two most recent winners of Virginians who have made Outstanding Contribution to Biosciences, joining the 20 we honored at our 20th Celebration in Charlottesville two years ago.

Looking forward. Moving forward. Together creating the future of biosciences in Virginia.

We need you to be there, to create it together.

See you at the Westfields Marriott Washington-Dulles Conference Center in Chantilly, VA on Thursday, April 23. Visit the THRiVE 2015 webpage to register.  And thanks to our Conference Committee and our sponsors who make it all possible.


Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  21st century cure  big data  convention  Economic Development  funding  government  Governor  policy  Thrive  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience 

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Opportunities For The New Year

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Participating in the process of public policy formation is a year round non-stop endeavor.

You may have noticed in the press that on December 4 the Governor hosted a roundtable on the commercialization of university bioscience research, the first event in a biotech initiative he announced to support the industry and determine public policy changes that will help. Virginia Bio was pleased to be an important resource to the Administration in planning this important event. MIT’s Robert Langer provided insights and inspiration. Highlights and insights from seven successful and varied university commercialization programs and experiences across the state were presented - what’s worked, what barriers remain, and what are the opportunities ahead. There was wide-ranging Q&A and discussion with the Governor and four Secretaries in his Administration. Working groups are forming to continue the discussion and evaluation, and make specific recommendations for changes which would make Virginia the best state in the nation for commercializing university bioscience research. The Governor has asked for the recommendations to be delivered to him in April, at Virginia Bio’s April 23 statewide conference; more conference information below.

Of course some seasons of the year are a little busier than others. State public policy is about to get really busy as the 2015 Session of the General Assembly kicks off on January 14. This being an odd calendar year and therefore the second year in a biennial budget, this year’s GA Session will be a short session, scheduled for 30 days but typically extended to 45 days.

At companies and research labs we work day after day and step by step to make progress on our important goals, and Virginia Bio works hard to help our members do this successfully. But each of us is swimming in a larger current, too. The conditions of this current can be with us or against, be it the economy, global current events and federal and state public policy. That’s why Virginia Bio makes significant efforts to assure the conditions of state public policy support the industry, to help our members achieve their important work for the benefit of all.

We are already busy reviewing bills which are being pre-filed in both the House and Senate prior to the star of the legislative session, and we will bring important legislation being offered to your attention. If you’re curious, follow bills as they are filed and the progress of all bills during the Session at http://legiscan.com/VA/legislation.

It is no secret that the state’s revenues are down significantly and across the board budget cuts are being put in place. Even with all adjustments to date, the budget shortfall currently stands at approximately $320 million. It is unrealistic to think that the agenda promoting policies like tax credits and grants to spur entrepreneurship and innovation will be immune to such pressure. So our efforts have been ongoing throughout the year, and will continue, to explain to policy makers the importance and impact of these programs on economic activity, company and job growth, and defend the gains we have made over the past decade.

This pressure makes all the more important that we receive fresh input from our members about the relative importance of various public policies. Will you help us by taking 5 minutes to complete a survey on your personal experience and opinions on the impact of the public policies and programs in place in the Commonwealth? Take the VA Bio survey here.

In addition, over the course of the next several months we will have periodic conference calls for those interested in learning what issues have arisen, how our policy agenda is progressing, and how they can help us succeed, by strategizing and contacting elected officials. The first call for the 2015 Session is scheduled for Monday, January 5 at 3:00 pm. Call in details to learn the policy agenda progress are here and all members are invited to listen in and participate.

On December 17 the Governor will deliver his proposed budget amendments for the coming year. The weeks following will feature comparisons and attempts at persuasion, and work with the General Assembly. If no amendments are agreed to by the General Assembly and Governor, the current two year budget passed into law in a special session some months ago will remain in effect unchanged.

Recall that the current budget calls for significant cuts in funding CRCF and GAP funds, and zeros out VBHRC (the “Catalyst”) for the coming fiscal year.

The second week in February is “Crossover” at the General Assembly; legislation which has passed one Chamber moves to the other Chamber for consideration. As in the past, Virginia Bio will host a reception for legislators and networking event for members that week. Thursday, February 12, we will hold an open reception for all members of Virginia Bio from across the state and for members of the General Assembly and Administration at the headquarters of kaléo inc in downtown Richmond (Shockoe Bottom), just blocks away from the Capitol, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Kaléo is one of Virginia’s most well-known and dynamic young pharma companies and recently gained national recognition when it received FDA approval of EVZIO for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.

We arrange for our periodic statewide board meetings of our Board of Directors, Board of Advisors and Academic Council to immediately precede the reception, to assure that leaders of the industry statewide are at the event in Richmond to speak with our elected representatives. This makes it a wonderful and convenient opportunity for you to renew ties with scores of statewide leaders and share your experiences and ideas with our policy makers. Please join us if you can. Members can register here for the Board Meeting. If you would like to help sponsor this important event, please contact either Sherri Halloran or me.

Finally, state and federal public policy matters will be on the program at our statewide daylong conference, THRIVE, scheduled for April 23, 2015 at the Westfields Marriot in Chantilly. Both federal and state policy makers have been invited, and we are now putting together programs on pressing issues. You will recall at our last statewide conference in Charlottesville in Spring 2013 both a US Senator and Congressman spent the day with us participating in various sessions, as did a number of state legislators. The Governor, several Secretaries and multiple state legislators have already committed to participating at our event in April. Find details about our THRIVE conference here.

Feel free to contact me directly at any time, and join policy group if you are interested.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  Economic Development  funding  government  Governor  policy  Thrive  virginia bioscience 

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BIO Convention Helps Governor Focus on Industry

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

 

Governor McAuliffe and his Administration are making it widely known they are focusing on growing the economy, and they understand that the bioscience industry is a critical part.  


Several weeks ago the Governor attended the BIO International Convention in San Diego, accompanied by Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership CEO Martin Briley and VEDP staff.   Because Governor McAuliffe was the first governor in the nation to commit to attend, VEDP staff, the convention organizers at BIO and Virginia Bio were able to build the delegation an outstanding itinerary.

Governor McAuliffe started off his full two day visit by hosting a breakfast for C level leaders of Virginia companies and research institutions to learn more about the industry, gather ideas for improved public policies, and hear tips on selling the advantages of Virginia for bioscience the world-wide BIO audience.   

The remainder of his day included making remarks at two other large gatherings – the Council of State Biotechnology Associations and the Chairman’s BIO’s Leaders Reception. He also appeared with the governors of Massachusetts and South Dakota on a panel at the unveiling of the biannual Battelle Report on bioscience commercialization in the states.   

The Battelle Report found continued steady growth of the bioscience industry in Virginia over the last five years, outperforming the national average in the rate of growth of establishments and employment.  Nevertheless in most measures Virginia has yet to crack the top 20 states.  That day Governor McAuliffe took those facts as a challenge to find and implement the right policies to make that happen.  

The Governor walked the exhibition floor, focusing time at the Virginia Pavilion to meet the companies and organizations in attendance under the leadership of Virginia Economic Development Partnership, including:
  • Greater Richmond Partnership
  • Prince William County
  • Loudoun County
  • I-81 Corridor (3 Regions:  Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Roanoke Regional Partnership, New River Valley Economic Development Alliance)
  • GoSova 
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute – Janelia Farm Research Campus
  • George Mason University
  • U.Va. Innovation (Includes Central Virginia Partnership region)

U.Va. Innovation once again co-sponsored the Translational Research Forum, exploring how academia and the private and public sectors can best pursue the partnerships necessary to bring innovative products from the university research lab to the market.  

The message that Virginia is a great place for bio was sent out loud and clear.

Tuesday evening concluded with a Virginia reception for attendees and out-of-state companies who are partners or prospects.  It was a terrific event on a rooftop patio at the PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres and capped off by the Forbes announcement that once again Virginia captured the number one state for business ranking.   Check out the photos on our Facebook page.

The Governor completed his second day with an appearance at the plenary luncheon before an audience of 5,000 to introduce the speaker, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For Secretary Haymore this was a first time attending the BIO convention and a fresh perspective on the growing role and impact of biotechnology on the agricultural bio and industrial bio sectors.  The Secretary made valuable contacts with the BIO organization, and Virginia Bio will work with him to move this important industry ahead.

Governor McAuliffe has asked his cabinet, under the leadership of Secretary Jones, to prepare a strategy and steps for sparking the growth of the bioscience industry in the Commonwealth.  Virginia Bio has been asked to help in this effort, providing information and contacts to industry leaders for ideas.  

The Governor appears to be "all in” in support of bioscience industry.  The Governor’s commitment to the BIO convention followed his successful keynote remarks to the PhRMA annual meeting in Washington in May.  Those remarks can be seen in their entirety on our website

Virginia Bio will do whatever we can, directly and through our membership, to help the Governor succeed, and to build on the steady progress the state has made over the last several administrations and General Assemblies.   

 

Best Regards,

 

Jeff Gallagher

CEO

Tags:  Battelle  convention  Economic Development  Governor 

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Virginia Higher Education Research Summit Recap

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Thursday, June 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

What can be done to optimize the extraordinary  potential of the state’s great research universities, to increase extramural research funding, and accelerate discovery, development and commercialization of their innovations?   

This important and timely question was the focus of the Virginia Higher Education Research Summit held in Richmond on June 9.  The Summit was hosted by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, in cooperation with the Center for Excellence in Education, Center for Innovative Technology, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.  The Summit brought together some 250 leaders and stakeholders committed to supporting and growing Virginia’s research enterprise, including representatives from executive and legislative branches of state and federal government, Virginia’s public and private higher education institutions, large and small businesses. Presenters showcased exemplary private/public partnerships between universities and the private sector, challenges and opportunities for acquiring capital to drive an idea to market, advice from university researchers to young investigators, and corporate thoughts about future fields that will be required to address the multi-dimensional challenges in health, cyber, manufacturing, energy, agriculture and the environment.   Research and development of the bioscience and medicine featured prominently.  

This day-long event featured Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Education Ann Holton, among others, and two panels of experts, one from the academic side and the other from industry.  The morning panel featured eminently successful academic researchers speaking about “Public Private Partnerships:  Exemplary Models”. The panelists were Donald Brown, UVa, Paul Fisher, VCU, Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute, Richard Heller, ODU and Duminda Wijesekera, George Mason, and I was privileged to moderate. The afternoon panel furnished a funder and industry perspective on a “Forecast of Future Market Demand and Trends” and featured James Ellenbogen, MITRE Corporation, Donald Hamadyk, Newport News Shipbuilding, Sean Kanuck, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Christopher Yochim, AstraZeneca, and was moderated by Bobbie Kilberg, CEO of  NVTechCouncil.  The program with slides is at:  http://www.schev.edu/VAResearchSummit.asp

Virginia is home to a number of extraordinary research universities with strengths in varied fields, and they serve as the engine for much of the Commonwealth’s innovation in the biosciences.  Both new and established university researchers hold enormous potential to make and develop discoveries that will save lives and improve health and well-being worldwide, while creating jobs and economic development in the Commonwealth.

It is widely believed that traditional federal sources of science research funding such as NIH will remain level at best in the foreseeable future, and thus to increase research funding our universities need to increase collaboration with industry and foundations.  At the same time, competition for these funding sources will increase, and thus to be successful our universities must find new ways to become more valuable and more competitive. One obvious response is to improve collaborations within the state universities; however, our great institutions are geographically widely dispersed and structurally not as tightly coordinated as in some other states.  SCHEV CEO Peter Blakely and Board members summed up the discussions at the end of the day and sketched next steps, declaring  the Summit a call to action - the beginning for an informed and purposeful statewide effort to encourage and support private and public research collaborations and extramural funding.  

Virginia Bio pledges its support of this important effort going forward, and will be involved in follow through.  If this is a subject of particular interest to you as a member, please let me know and I will keep you  apprised of developments and tap your energy and time as opportunities arise.    


Best Regards,

Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  Biological  DARPA  federal  funding  Governor  Research  STEM 

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