Happy 10th Anniversary to the BioCrossroads of America … and here’s to the next 10 years and beyond.

Happy 10th Anniversary to the BioCrossroads of America … and here’s to the next 10 years and beyond.

By: Gary K. Pino, FMP Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an IBJ Power Breakfast Series about the fascinating subject of LIFE SCIENCES … sponsored and presented by Roche Diagnostics Corporation of Indianapolis.   The forum was actually a panel discussion led by four (4) key contributors to the success of what the BioCrossroads of America is today.  The featured panelists included:

  • Ron Henriksen – President & CEO EndGenitor Technologies;
  • Elizabeth Hart –Wells, PhD – Assistant VP & Director Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization;
  • David Johns President & CEO of BioCrossroads
  • David S. Wilkes, M.D., Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs – IU School of Medicine
  • Peter Yonkman, Executive VP – Cook Medical

Prior to kicking off the panel discussion, Jack Phillips, President and CEO of Roche Diagnostics Corporation told us a story about a Chinese Hospital with 4,400 beds in an area servicing a population of a million + people versus our abundant American hospitals.  Ultimately, the moral of his story is to “take time to get out of your bubble and experience something different … it will give you a totally eye opening and renewed perspective about life. The packed house got to hear answers to the following most commonly asked Life Sciences related questions:

    1. What’s the biggest life sciences accomplishment of the past decade and the biggest challenge still confronting the region?
    2. How is the focus on reducing costs changing the nature of innovation in life sciences companies?
    3. Will we ever again see another Indiana Company, like Endocyte; go from discovery to IPO and product launch, while remaining independent?
    4. What’s the biggest life sciences accomplishment of the past decade and the biggest challenge still confronting the region?

Although the detailed answers to the aforementioned questions will appear in this week’s July 30 – August 5, 2012 IBJ ~ Special Focus Section, I thought I would take a crack at providing my very succinct interpretation of the discussion in a “mumble jumble kind of way” since the panel bounced around as well.  For those of you who also attended the Power Breakfast Series, perhaps you could supplement my understanding of what was presented ~ with your input / feedback and reply.  Thank you for taking the time to reply! The biggest accomplishment was planning the successful launch of this BioCrossroad endeavor, continuing to push it through with momentum during the early years and being able to still talk about its important footprint and presence ten years later.  This achievement in and of itself further established the state of Indiana as being the Number 1 Life Sciences stronghold of all the United States … this national title and recognition is something the BioCrossroad pioneers should be truly proud of!  “What do you know that you don’t know” – there is so much information and technology coming in from so many different sources and scientific based companies, where does one start … and where does one go from there … the answer is simple: like Science itself, the sky’s the limit. Information technology / Information systems have advanced exponentially to the point where there’s more trending in the multi-disciplinary research area. How did, and does the BioCrossroads consortium attract companies and outside monies to come to Indiana?  Back in the early days of the pre-established BioCrossroads, the funding came from an angel investor.  A business angel or informal investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital. Although Life Sciences is getting harder, Collaboration, Strategic partnerships, strategic relationships and/or co-development partnerships are proven Management techniques helping it to be thoroughly researched, solved and maintained. The Endocyte’s magic and being at the right place at the right time with the right discovery!! “Endocyte and Merck have entered into an exclusive licensing deal for a late-stage investigational cancer drug potentially worth up to $1 billion for the Indiana-based company. Endocyte has granted a Merck subsidiary exclusive global development and commercialization rights to its small molecule vintafolide, currently being evaluated along with Endocyte’s companion diagnostic in a late-stage trial for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, and a mid-stage trial for non-small cell lung cancer.”  Marie Daghlian Probably the most fascinating response that I came away with was echoed collectively by the panel when they stated … to successfully sustain Life Sciences and the BioCrossroads phenomenon, we have to be able to ask ourselves and have answers to the following question: “How do we balance the risk, the benefits to the patients and navigate the FDA in such a heavily regulated industry?”

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