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A Word from Jeff Gallagher, CEO, Virginia Bio It’s my privilege to travel the state and meet hundreds of companies, research institutions, and individuals who are doing fascinating innovative work and making valuable contributions to our economy and to the health and well-being of people around the globe. Every month in this blog I’ll take a short look at an outstanding member of Virginia’s bioscience community, or update you on important information that impacts the community.

 

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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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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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DARPAs New Biological Technologies Office (“BTO”)

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

The purpose of this monthly post is to highlight extraordinary people, activities and assets in this broad, deep and diverse Virginia bioscience community.

DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Agency Program, headquarteredin Arlington, Virginia and it awards grants to fund breakthrough R&D.

DARPA recently formed a Biological Technologies Office (“BTO”) to consolidate and expand DARPA’s funding of the biosciences. “Starting today,” DARPA officials proclaimed when announcing the formation of the BTO, “biology takes its place among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology”.

The BTO is tasked is to merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security, to explore the increasingly dynamic intersection of biology and the physical sciences, to harness the power of biological systems, and to design next-generation technologies that are inspired by insights gained from the life sciences.

“Biology is nature’s ultimate innovator, and any agency that hangs its hat on innovation would be foolish not to look to this master of networked complexity for inspiration and solutions,” said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar in testimony to Congress this Spring.

BTO programs push the leading edge of science. For example, DARPA recently announced a Hand Proprioception & Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program, expanding on the work of DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics and Reliable Neural-Interface technology programs.

BTO establishes research priority areas. Future programs will be created from ideas brought to the agency by program managers and through conversations with the research community. BTO soon will release a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) that will define research areas of interest and welcome solicitations from industry and academia to meet defined goals, and the BTO hosts forum in Arlington for academic and corporate R&D visits and discussions. The BTO’s new Director is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, a neuroscientist.

Take a look at http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/BTO/

Virginia Bio will seek to help Virginia’s researchers and companies become aware and take full advantage of DARPA and other federal defense sources of bioscience funding, many in our own backyard. Look for webinars, events, and other opportunities in the months to come.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher

Tags:  agency  Biological  DARPA  federal  funding  government  Research 

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