13 Aug Happy days are here for Wisconsin biotechnology
These are good times for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry. A string of high-profile biotechnology success stories during the past several months is helping to cement the Badger State’s leadership as a center of bioscience commercialization.
These successes stand alone as excellent news for Wisconsin and our industry. Together, they serve as a broad indicator of the increasing breadth, depth, and maturity of the state’s bioscience industry.
TomoTherapy is a terrific example of the state’s recent biotechnology successes. The company’s May 9 initial public offering netted $185 million and the stock is trading more than 30 percent above the $19 IPO price. It would appear that the confidence placed in the company by industry analysts like Baird’s Jeffrey Johnson, who has called TomoTherapy’s unique radiation-delivery solution the proverbial “better mousetrap,” is well founded.
TomoTherapy announced in mid-July that 21st Century Oncology, the world’s largest operator of free-standing radiation oncology centers, has placed an order for six of the company’s Hi-Art treatment systems.
NimbleGen System’s $272.5-million acquisition in mid-June by Roche Diagnostics, arguably the world’s leading biotechnology company, will accelerate and broaden the opportunities for its high-density DNA microarrays, which enable researchers to interrogate millions of points in the genome on a single glass slide. The acquisition has an important benefit outside of the clear reward for the company’s shareholders: Roche has said that it will maintain NimbleGen’s facility and employees in Madison.
The continuing presence of NimbleGen, a leader in the $600 million microarray market, coupled with the establishment of a presence in Madison by global health care giant Roche, is unique win for the bioscience industry and our state.
More bright spots
In yet another sign of the ongoing maturation of the Wisconsin bioscience industry, Venture Investors in early July announced the final closing of its fourth fund with commitments totaling $115 million, a three-fold increase from the last fund it raised. The firm said that it will continue its strategy of investing in seed and early-stage life sciences, engineering, and information technology companies in the Midwest.
In the announcement of the fund closing, John Neis, Venture Investor’s managing director, reinforced the firm’s commitment to funding the commercialization of discoveries made at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while delivering returns to investors that are competitive with the top-tier venture capital firms on the coasts.
Still another bright spot for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry was the mid-July announcement by Mentor Corp. that it would expand its presence here with the construction of a 37,000-square-foot, $24-million manufacturing facility. The Fortune 500 company could have built its new facility anywhere. It chose Madison, in part because of the company’s long-standing relationship with the UW-Madison.
The selection of Wisconsin by a California-based biotechnology company for the site of a state-of-the-art production facility speaks volumes about the growth of our industry. It is not just those inside the state’s borders who are recognizing the maturity of the biosciences in Wisconsin, it is increasingly those outside of the state who are seeing our strengths.
These are other recent achievements each stand as excellent news – both for the state’s bioscience industry and all of Wisconsin. They are the most recent examples of the success that can be found by working together to nurture and support the bioscience industry and its companies.
When taken together, these milestones send an even stronger signal. Major commercial and financial players from outside the state are increasingly taking notice of the state’s bioscience industry and making substantial investments in our continued success.
That is news to celebrate.
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