CEO Letters

February 2021

Members and Friends,

Happy “Almost Spring”! We hope that you have safely made it through the recent weather events and are looking forward to warmer days in the weeks ahead.

A Special “Thank You” to You, Our Members!

As we approach the one-year point of the pandemic here in the U.S., we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your continued support. These have been challenging times for us all, but you have continued to support and stay engaged with your Association throughout. Our strong retention rate is a testament to our members’ commitment, and new members continue to join the Virginia Bio family as well. As the vaccines – most if not all created in record time with contributions from Virginia Bio members – continue to be disseminated, there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel. We look forward to being able to get together again in person at future events (including THRiVE 2022, currently scheduled for April 27-28, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Virginia Bio!) for networking and fellowship. Again, our heartfelt thanks for your continued support.

Now for the updates…


4th Annual Industrial Hemp Summit.

Earlier this week, with the supportive leadership of CEO Mark Gignac of Virginia Bio member Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, the 2021 Industrial Hemp Summit was held virtually over the course of two full days. The premier gathering for the industrial hemp industry, this year’s Summit had a specific focus on building the supply chain and market making for industrial hemp food, fiber and flower. This annual Summit is the only business-to-business event organized by a research facility actively involved in the hemp industry. In addition to the Summit, IALR’s work includes hemp testing services, hemp research, hemp programming and events, and hemp instruction at instructional videos. For more information about IALR’s services and programs, click here.

Speaking of Agriculture…Join Us for March 11’s Virtual Luncheon with AgroSpheres and Babylon Micro-Farms.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reminds us that agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually and providing more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Not only is it a major part of our economy, but it is also a major part of our life science and biotechnology ecosystem. Join us for a conversation about Virginia’s ever-changing agriculture industry, lead by two of its newest leaders. Payam Pourtaheri, CEO of Charlottesville’s AgroSpheres. Recipient of a recent $8.8m Series A investment, AgroSphere’s mission is to transform crop protection with a greener way to control pests. Alexander Olesen is the CEO of Babylon Micro-Farms, a technology company that has developed a turnkey vertical farming solution that is shattering barriers to entry through a proprietary remote management platform. Babylon has obtained $2.7m of its its second $4.7m capital raise, and recently relocated from Charlottesville to Richmond. We look forward to your participation!

Virginia Bio Advocacy for the Industry: 2021 Virginia General Assembly.

The 2021 GA Special Session should end on February 28. Virginia Bio, along with several other key stakeholders, have monitored several pieces of legislation, prime among them being House Bill 2007, Prescription Drug Price Transparency (Dels. Sickles, Suhas and Subramanyam). As a reminder, this bill “[r]equires every health carrier, pharmacy benefits manager, wholesale drug distributer, and drug manufacturer to report information about prescription drug prices to the Department of Health and requires the Department to make such information available on its website.” This bill follows a national movement, seeking transparency about what some have commented to be a somewhat complex and challenging to understand pricing system. After receiving input from industry and other stakeholders, and after several revisions and compromise, the bill first passed the House, and today has passed the Senate on its way to final passage by the end of this week. We thank all of you who supported these conversations with our policymakers, informing and at times educating them on this vitally important issue. We hope that this bill will help bring a better understanding to the public.

Your Ideas.

Virginia Bio wants to hear from you! Contact us at you’re your ideas, comments, suggestions and advice regarding how Virginia Bio can best support you and our biotechnology ecosystem.

Please stay safe and let us know how we can help you. Thank you for all that you do to make Virginia’s life science ecosystem stronger!



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