Midwest biotech on a roll

Midwest biotech on a roll

CHICAGO — I continue to be encouraged by the numerous positive signs that biotech is alive and flourishing in the Midwest. Here are just a few:
& bull; The coming of the Olympics of biotech to Chicago in April 2006.
& bull; The continued acquisition of Midwest biotech companies by Big Pharma and Big Biotech. While they recognize the value of Midwest products and technology, the flip side of this is that we are losing publicly traded companies.
Bone Care International in Madison, Wis. was acquired by Genzyme in 2005 for about $650 million. Cima Labs in Minneapolis was acquired by Cephalon in 2004 for more than $400 million. Esperion in Ann Arbor, Mich. was acquired by Pfizer at the end of 2003 for more than $1 billion.
& bull;There have been two Midwest life science IPOs this year.
There was the IPO from Chicagoland’s Advance Life Science for $32 million in gross proceeds in August 2005. Advanced Life Sciences listed on the Nasdaq at $5 per share and is currently trading at $5.40 (or an increase of 8 percent in less than two months) with a market cap of $96 million.
There was the IPO from Atricure in Cincinnati for about $50 million in gross proceeds also in August 2005. Atricure is listed on the Nasdaq at $12 per share and is currently trading at $13.10 per share (or an increase of 9 percent) with a market cap of $160 million.
• The reopening of the former Searle R&D campus in Skokie, Ill. as announced by new owner Forest City Enterprises, which acquired it from Pfizer. Pfizer mothballed this 25-acre site and laid off all employees.
Forest City is now rapidly upgrading and expanding the campus – known as the Illinois Science & Technology Park – to turn it into a biotech mall. Eventually, the plans are for it to be a village with 2 million square feet of space. More than 14,000 new regional jobs (direct and indirect) are expected to be created.
• The running of the third-annual BIO Mid-America Venture Conference. This year’s event will shift from St. Louis to Minneapolis and take place from Sept. 21 to 23.
While all of the above augurs well for the Midwest, this last event is of particular satisfaction for a number of reasons:
• BIO, the national biotechnology trade association, took its first roll of the dice on the Midwest with this event three years ago when it held the event in Chicago.
The success of the first event – in terms of the caliber of companies presenting, the number of national and regional VCs that showed up and the overall attendance and financial results – lead BIO to repeat the event successfully in St. Louis in 2004.
By going for a third event, BIO is signaling its ongoing satisfaction with the level of biotech activity in the Midwest and legitimizing and further supporting our biotech activities.
• While the Chicago version had about 400 attendees and the St. Louis version about 450 attendees, of greater significance was that the 70 companies presenting in 2004 collectively raised more than $89 million in funding after having presented at the meeting.
• Of note is that the advisory board to the conference is made up of 29 VC groups that aren’t only regional representatives but national ones as well. Also represented were the VC groups of some Big Pharmas (including Eli Lilly).
It appears that 59 companies will be presenting at this year’s conference with representation from the following states:

I plan to be at this event and will give you the blow-by-blow results.

Greatest rock guitarists redux

My previous column on the above subject produced such a furor of response and a wide spectrum of commentary that I felt I needed to go back and take yet another look at a representative poll. While the list of greatest rock groups that I presented was less controversial, the list of rock guitarists listed in the CBS news poll that I quoted provoked a lot of angst (including my own).
As some readers weren’t happy with the results of this poll, I continued my search after I wrote the column to find a more definitive and perhaps better-accepted poll.
The logical place was in the center of rock culture: Rolling Stone Magazine. I had initially been unsuccessful in digging up such a poll, but at the urging of some readers, I was able to unearth a seminal list. Note that this poll was done on Aug. 27, 2003 and actually lists up to 100 musicians (though I will only go up to the first 50 in this column). Here we go!

While the above list is a definite improvement over the prior one in terms of diversity and the time period covered, it still leaves me with a taste for more and some level of dissatisfaction. I still don’t see the likes of Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Leslie West (Mountain) and Joe Satriani and there still aren’t any female rock guitarists. Next week, I will list the next 50 on the list.
Stay tuned. See you next week!

Michael S. Rosen is president of Rosen Bioscience Management, a company that provides CEO services including financing, business and corporate development to start-up and early stage life science companies such as Renovar and Immune Cell Therapy. Rosen is also a founder and board member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization. He can be reached at rosenmichaels@aol.com.
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