Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,
"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results” -Andrew Carnegie
For two years we have had the pleasure and responsibility of Ieading a team effort of leaders across the state to develop a common vision for a more robust and dynamic bioscience industry in Virginia, proposing concrete steps policy makers could implement to help. And here, near the end, Carnegie’s quote rings more true than ever before to me as I survey the many groups of people we represent.
I would like to spotlight several examples now in the news, and add a corollary to Carnegie: a mindset to seek to create value in everything we do. Act to grow the pie, not simply take a slice.
Bioscience businesses, of course, have to collaborate to thrive. We are masters at it, "virtual biotechs” being the extreme case. Whether it’s working with the members within the organization, closing an important deal with a customer or partner that is good and incentivizing to all sides, or developing a new product with contractors and consultants, effective collaboration is the key to successes.
I have been amazed over the last months at the time and energy the great majority of General Assembly members bring to their responsibilities during the warp speed months of a Session. I have seen the impact that working together can have on getting things done, and getting good things done. Last weekend the House and Senate announced their versions of the state budget, and the bioscience R&D and the industry did not do as well as we hoped, or even as well as in the Governor’s budget. So we will be working over the remaining few weeks to try to improve that outcome, and continue to paint the vision for the months and years and Sessions ahead (to see current status of state policy initiatives, click here
Virginia is home to extraordinary research universities with strengths in varied fields, and they serve as the engine for much of the Commonwealth’s innovation in the biosciences. One continuing opportunity is to help them effectively collaborate on significant matters. Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC), "the Catalyst”, provides grants to accelerate translational research and commercialization of breakthrough technologies in the life sciences. VBHRC creates stronger working partnerships between Virginia academic research universities, the biotechnology industry and health delivery systems. This leads to more collaborative research and the ability for stronger, larger, research centers. The results of the first several years speak for themselves, with terrific projects, collaborations where there were none before, large private matching and almost a 30:1 ROI measuring grants awarded: follow on funding. VBHRC is a critical part of the long range structure and strategy, working its way through the General Assembly, to support long term research/industry building with support for hiring outstanding researchers and seeding Centers of Excellence (click here
to view VBHRC weave map).
Medimmune, just over the Potomac River in Gaithersburg, MD, is the region’s premier biopharma company. Yet it recognizes the benefit of collaboration. In fact for two years MedImmune has been working to bring the Maryland/DC/Virginia bioscience businesses and research centers together, with regional conferences, regional work groups to uncover and articulate strengths, and informal dinners for CEOs across the region. This type of collective effort will help grow the region’s biotech ecosystem and chart a course toward becoming one of the "top three biotech hubs by 2023”. Medimmune has initiated discussions with Virginia state officials offering to partner with the Commonwealth to grow the biotech industry in the state.
Finally, personalized medicine requires collaboration among doctors from many different specialties, technologists to create and develop new tools and patients. The recently announced plans to create the Inova Center for Personalized Health embody this type of collaboration. The collaborative promise of the new campus will stimulate the growth and success of high technology life science companies, world class researchers, eminent clinicians, leading to the expansion of the life science related economic sector and state of the art clinical medicine in Virginia and the greater Washington region.
The list of Virginia universities and companies building the value in healing, feeding and fueling the world can go on and on – Virginia Tech Carilion, UVA’s many efforts, VCU Engineering School’s Medicines for All Initiative, and on and on. In later letters we will examine more of them, to inspire and connect us even further.