States get serious about science

Indiana and Oregon launch bioscience incubators

Lloyd Dunlap
INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently joinedIndiana-based global life-science and research university executives to unveilthe Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, said to be the first industry-ledcollaborative life-science research institute in the country. The IndianaBiosciences Research Institute is a statewide public-private partnershipadvanced by BioCrossroads and led by Indiana's life-science industry, withsupport from the State of Indiana and partnerships with Indiana's researchuniversities to discover, develop and deliver biosciences innovations inIndiana. The institute draws on a life-science industry cluster that is one ofthe largest and most diverse in the nation, numbering roughly 2,000 companies.This diversity creates opportunities for Indiana-based life-science companiesto work in collaboration—not competition—toward common scientific discoveries.
 
"Indiana has built a life-science ecosystem unlike any otherstate and faces a new season of opportunity as a result," Pence says.
 
 
The institute is the result of leadership from industryexecutives from Eli Lilly & Co. and Dow AgroSciences, Roche Diagnostics,Cook Medical, Indiana University Health and Biomet, with active support ininitial development by BioCrossroads. Indiana's research institutions,including Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of NotreDame, also are participating in the development process.
 
 
"With a bioscience sector that now contributes more than $50billion a year to the Hoosier economy, Indiana is ranked by BIO and Battelle asone of the top five states in the nation in terms of our total number oflife-science companies and employees. Through the institute, BioCrossroadsbelieves we have found a bold way to raise our game in Indiana by building theplatform that will truly take us to the next level of success," says David Johnson,president and CEO of BioCrossroads, an organization focused on investment,development and advancement of the state's signature life-science strengths.
 
As part of the institute's development process, industryleaders have defined common scientific interests for research and discovery.The institute will initially focus on the most pressing global and localinterrelated human health issues: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity andnutrition. These interrelated metabolic disorders are a major economic burdenand a leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors such as highblood pressure and insulin resistance allow for early disease detection andtimely preventive actions such as through improved nutrition, and earlyintervention can slow or prevent the onset of disease. This is an importantscientific discovery subject for the approximately 35 percent of Americans whosuffer from cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, and is asignificant risk for Hoosiers who suffer disproportionally from these diseases.
 
 
Meanwhile, in Portland, Ore., the Oregon TranslationalResearch and Development Institute (OTRADI) officially launched the OTRADIBioscience Incubator (OBI), the state's first bioscience-specific acceleratorfor bioscience and tech companies. OBI will provide scientists and startupswith access to entrepreneurial mentoring and a state-of-the-art facility andequipment to help their companies reach the next phase of expansion. Expectedto contribute more than 50 high-quality jobs for Oregon's bioscience sectorwithin the first couple years, the OBI will house up to six promising companiesand their employees.
 
 
OTRADI joins local companies Aronora and AbSci as the firstOBI client companies, filling roughly one-third of the 13,000 square-footcomplex in Portland's South Waterfront District.
 
"The OBI addresses the growing demand for lab space andsophisticated facilities as bioscience continues to advance as a leadingeconomic sector in the state," says OTRADI Executive Director Dr. Jennifer Fox."By facilitating job growth and by driving science and health discoveries, theOBI will advance Oregon as a hub for bioscience entrepreneurship andinnovation."
 
 
All OBI client companies will have access to world-classscientific expertise and more than $1 million worth of cutting-edge sharedequipment, shared conference facilities and private lab and office space.Located in the heart of Oregon's health and sciences cluster, the OBI will alsobring the added value of proximity to other scientists and biosciencecompanies.
 
 
Projections of rapid industry growth have further encouragedinvestors to support OTRADI's vision for the OBI, including the OregonInnovation Council, which has invested nearly $10 million in OTRADI since 2007.
 
"We see the OBI as a catalyst for sector growth," OregonInnovation Council Chairman John W. Morgan says. "The OBI gives us one moretool to help bioscience businesses and entrepreneurs create the kinds of jobsthat are diversifying Oregon's economy."
 
 

 
The way it worked in Wisconsin
 
 
When former U.S.Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala became chancellor of the Universityof Wisconsin-Madison in 1988,she discovered a campus aswarm with almost 55,000 students and a focus on undergraduateeducation. In short order under her leadership, the university transmogrifieditself into one of the midwest's top research institutions and became one ofthe top four in NIH grants. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was set upto license intellectual property and monetize it. Over the years, successfulcompanies such as Promega, CDI, NimbleGen (later bought by Roche) and Epic werespun out of the university, and the income generated was used for theconstruction of three campus buildings.

Lloyd Dunlap

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