13 Oct Finding a Yardstick For Local Biotech Improvement and Success
CHICAGO – How do we measure the improvement and success of biotechnology in Illinois and the Midwest? We could use these tangibles:
Increase in number of biotech companies in Illinois
Increase in new emerging companies
Amount of money raised by biotech companies through VCs and the financial markets
Increase in market cap of the industry
Number of jobs produced by the industry directly and indirectly
Number of new life science patents produced by Illinois universities
SBIR grants awarded to Illinois companies
Deals done with Big Pharma or Big Ag
Increase in sales of products on the market or number of drugs approved by the FDA
How about the intangibles?
Is there a biotech buzz in the air?
Are we getting more articles about biotech in the media?
Are state politicians paying attention to us and if so how and in what way?
Do we feel that biotech is happening as a statewide event?
Are we getting more biotech big wigs involved in the industry?
Currently, a scorecard doesn’t exist to answer these very good questions, but like going to a baseball game where you buy your scorecard up front and track the progress and statistics of the game, we should come to some agreement on how we’re going to track our industry and its progress.
I certainly welcome your ideas on this subject as it would add yet another dimension to this column. I have tried to track the progress of our publicly traded companies via comparison of a “basket” of Midwest companies against the Amex and Nasdaq biotech indices. Still, this only tells part of the story
Here are some events in the last 12 or so months that lead me to believe that we’re improving as an industry:
1) BIO (the national biotech trade association) held its first-ever Midwest venture conference in the heartland of America (Chicago) in April with close to 60 biotech companies (mostly from the Midwest). Some 30 VCs presented (again mostly from the Midwest) and there was a total audience attendance of about 400 people. The event was such a success that BIO has decided to do it again in April 2004 in St. Louis.
2) JETRO (the Japanese Economic Trade Organization) assembled an all-Midwest cast of biotech leaders in Chicago in September that included academia, major research institutions and hospitals, state biotech associations, biotech companies and Japanese and Midwest pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Once more, audience turn out for the daylong event was strong at about 300 people.
3) IBIO, the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization, has upgraded its organization and activities by hiring a full-time president and staff, establishing offices within World Business Chicago and appointing a senior Abbott Labs executive (James L. Tyree) to chairman of the board.
IBIO has also added to its board senior executives from other Illinois pharma companies (including Takeda, Fujisawa and Baxter), held eight breakfast events during 2003 at three major area universities (University of Chicago, Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Chicago) and continued evolution of its annual event (iBIOMarketplace, a day-and-a-half biotech extravaganza).
iBIOMarketplace affords a great opportunity to physically measure how biotech has improved in Illinois. The meeting gauges the biotech buzz and excitement factor in the community. This year, iBIOMarketplace will be held on Nov. 12 and 13, and judging by the roster of speakers, it reflects a step up for IBIO over last year’s meeting.
IBIO is taking this meeting back to Navy Pier, which was the site of the 2001 meeting. The event will be held in the grand ballroom at the end of the pier. Keynote speakers include:
Bruce Rauner, managing principal of GTCR Golder Rauner, which bought the American Stock Exchange earlier this year. They have also provided significant financing to two Illinois life science companies: Ovation Pharmaceuticals and Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals.
Steve Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co. This merchant bank manages the largest ag biotech fund in the U.S. as well as several biotech funds. Steve Burrill is chairman to one of our local ag biotech companies, Pyxis Genomics, and is involved with several other companies in the Midwest.
Harry Kraemer, CEO of Baxter International. Baxter is one of the cornerstone life science companies in Illinois and has made significant investments in biotech companies.
iBIOMarketplace should be a good benchmark of how we are progressing. For those of you who are planning to attend, I welcome your comments on how you think we are doing, which I will be glad to feature in this column. By the way, if any of you have ideas on how to measure the success and improvement on biotech in Illinois and the Midwest, please do let me know.
See you next week!
Michael S. Rosen is the vice chairman of human health at the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (IBIO). He can be reached at email@example.com. This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters. They can be found at www.eprairie.com.
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