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States get serious about science
INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently joined Indiana-based global life-science and research university executives to unveil the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, said to be the first industry- led collaborative life-science research institute in the country. The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute is a statewide public-private partnership advanced by BioCrossroads and led by Indiana's life-science industry, with support from the State of Indiana and partnerships with Indiana's research universities to discover, develop and deliver biosciences innovations in Indiana. The institute draws on a life-science industry cluster that is one of the largest and most diverse in the nation, numbering roughly 2,000 companies. This diversity creates opportunities for Indiana-based life-science companies to work in collaboration—not competition—toward common scientific discoveries.
"Indiana has built a life-science ecosystem unlike any other state and faces a new season of opportunity as a result," Pence says.
The institute is the result of leadership from industry executives from Eli Lilly & Co. and Dow AgroSciences, Roche Diagnostics, Cook Medical, Indiana University Health and Biomet, with active support in initial development by BioCrossroads. Indiana's research institutions, including Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, also are participating in the development process.
"With a bioscience sector that now contributes more than $50 billion a year to the Hoosier economy, Indiana is ranked by BIO and Battelle as one of the top five states in the nation in terms of our total number of life-science companies and employees. Through the institute, BioCrossroads believes we have found a bold way to raise our game in Indiana by building the platform 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, industry leaders have defined common scientific interests for research and discovery. The institute will initially focus on the most pressing global and local interrelated human health issues: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and nutrition. These interrelated metabolic disorders are a major economic burden and a leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance allow for early disease detection and timely preventive actions such as through improved nutrition, and early intervention can slow or prevent the onset of disease. This is an important scientific discovery subject for the approximately 35 percent of Americans who suffer from cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, and is a significant risk for Hoosiers who suffer disproportionally from these diseases.
Meanwhile, in Portland, Ore., the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI) officially launched the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI), the state's first bioscience-specific accelerator for bioscience and tech companies. OBI will provide scientists and startups with access to entrepreneurial mentoring and a state-of-the-art facility and equipment to help their companies reach the next phase of expansion. Expected to contribute more than 50 high-quality jobs for Oregon's bioscience sector within the first couple years, the OBI will house up to six promising companies and their employees.
OTRADI joins local companies Aronora and AbSci as the first OBI client companies, filling roughly one-third of the 13,000 square-foot complex in Portland's South Waterfront District.
"The OBI addresses the growing demand for lab space and sophisticated facilities as bioscience continues to advance as a leading economic sector in the state," says OTRADI Executive Director Dr. Jennifer Fox. "By facilitating job growth and by driving science and health discoveries, the OBI will advance Oregon as a hub for bioscience entrepreneurship and innovation."
All OBI client companies will have access to world-class scientific expertise and more than $1 million worth of cutting-edge shared equipment, shared conference facilities and private lab and office space. Located in the heart of Oregon's health and sciences cluster, the OBI will also bring the added value of proximity to other scientists and bioscience companies.
Projections of rapid industry growth have further encouraged investors to support OTRADI's vision for the OBI, including the Oregon Innovation Council, which has invested nearly $10 million in OTRADI since 2007.
"We see the OBI as a catalyst for sector growth," Oregon Innovation Council Chairman John W. Morgan says. "The OBI gives us one more tool to help bioscience businesses and entrepreneurs create the kinds of jobs that 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 University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988, she discovered a campus aswarm with almost 55,000 students and a focus on undergraduate education. In short order under her leadership, the university transmogrified itself into one of the midwest's top research institutions and became one of the top four in NIH grants. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was set up to license intellectual property and monetize it. Over the years, successful companies such as Promega, CDI, NimbleGen (later bought by Roche) and Epic were spun out of the university, and the income generated was used for the construction of three campus buildings.