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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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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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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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Better Access to Capital

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 25, 2015
Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Access to capital is one of the most important and pressing needs of bioscience innovation companies. The need for capital starts even before the moment of creation of the company, and continues and evolves throughout all stages of a company’s life cycle.

Virginia Bio is continually seeking ways to help our member companies access capital, and in the year ahead we will provide increased emphasis, and new programs and projects.

To jump start this effort, Virginia Bio recently entered into a one year agreement with CB Insights to provide access for select members to CB Insight’s proprietary comprehensive database of private investment data on current and historic deals and investors.

CB Insights is a national Science Foundation-backed data and technology company that exclusively focuses on private company financing and exit information. The database tracks any private company that has received financing including government grants angel investment, VC, growth equity, or had an exit via M&A, an IPO or other, and captures extensive information on the financings and the investors.

Please watch in the coming days for our announcements describing this exciting new program, the content of the database, the capabilities of the search, analytic and visualization tools, a date for a live webinar training how to use the database for your needs, and terms of use.

A handful of Virginia Bio member companies and investment advisors who helped us evaluate the database service were impressed that this will be a valuable tool. It will help our startup, early stage and growing companies analyze industry trends, identify target investors and acquirers, conduct reverse due diligence on investors prior to meeting them, understand comparable transactions and competitors, and track and research relevant life science and health care deals.

In addition to this new service, in January we’ll continue to build on our support of companies during JP Morgan week, with a second private meeting room and a much expanded networking reception Sunday night.

Please let me and members of our Board know additional ideas for supporting our companies’ efforts to gain access to the capital they need to thrive.

Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  capital  cb insights  Economic Development  funding  government  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: 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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Discussion Draft Released For 21st Century Cures initiative

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee released a discussion draft related to its 21st Century Cures initiative.

The 21st Century Cures initiative is a bi-partisan effort to take a coherent look at the whole system, from drug and device discovery, to development to delivery, and the impact of the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. The driving idea is that as a nation we created and for the last 75 years have enjoyed the world’s greatest system for turning biomedical innovation into practice. To remain the global leader, to retain and grow research, companies and jobs, and to bring health and therapies to more people more quickly and efficiently, we must improve.

This discussion draft document reflects the work and industry input from 27 public hearings and roundtables and 5 white papers over 10 months dating back to April of 2014.

One of those public roundtables occurred in Blacksburg last October. Virginia Bio was pleased to be able to help organize the event with Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA-7), a member of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. The Roanoke Times published their coverage of the roundtable here and later published an Op-Ed with our comments found here.

The Committee has characterized this draft as "far from perfect" but as you will see, this legislative draft includes provisions authored by both Republicans and Democrats that would: (1) incorporate patient perspectives into the regulatory process and help address their unmet medical needs; (2) build the foundation for 21st Century Medicine; (3) streamline clinical trials; (4) accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle and support continued innovation at our Federal public health agencies; and (5) modernize medical product regulation.

Here, you can find an initial analysis of sections of the 393 page legislative draft that would have an impact on the life sciences in Virginia. I tip my hat here to our friends at Pennsylvania Bio who compiled much of this summary.

The full legislative draft document for the 21st Century Cures initiative can be found here.

I encourage you to read through the legislative draft and reach out to us with comments or additional areas of concern. If you prefer to send your comments straight to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, you can do so via email at cures@mail.house.gov. Or to Rep. Griffith, via his staff member on this initiative, Adam Harbison at Adam.Harbison@mail.house.gov.

You have a chance to meet with Congressman Griffith, to hear his comments on the 21st Century Cures Initiative and to discuss the Discussion Draft at our statewide conference April 23 at the Westfields Marriot Dulles Conference Center, THRIVE: Creating the future of bioscience in Virginia. Congressional staff members and other federal policy experts will be present on a panel with Rep. Griffith to provide additional resources and viewpoints for the discussion. I invite you to attend, learn and provide your comments. Register to attend THRIVE here.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  21st century cure  government  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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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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