Thursday, September 29, 2005

Jerry Kilgore on Biotechnology

What have the candidates for governor said about biotechnology, tech transfer or state funded research? We will look at the plans from all three candidates for governor over the next few days. We will start today with some information from Jerry Kilgore's campaign plan for technology-related economic development:


"Virginia is home to businesses and universities that are on the forefront of innovation and cutting-edge research in biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless innovation, nuclear and particle physics, aerospace, information systems, and many other disciplines. Now is the time to leverage these advances, build upon the successes of the Center for Innovative Technology, and make Virginia the place for the business and higher-ed communities to turn knowledge into the power to create jobs, advance discoveries, and turn experimentation and inventions into reality for our families and our future. As Governor, Jerry Kilgore will:

  • Create a Governor's Research Partnership Fund to attract new businesses willing to partner with universities on research initiatives and co-locate their operations and/or laboratories on or near the university campus;
  • Establish a comprehensive policy in Virginia law to address technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property through performance grants for private sector research investment, intellectual property ownership, and expanded state support for copyright offices within universities;
  • Leverage the deployment of VORTEX (a broadband fiber-optic network linking Virginia's universities with each other and national and international research networks) to link research driven business ventures with our universities and spread the cyber infrastructure to rural parts of the state so that private sector researchers could be located in Sussex, Danville or Wise and still work side-by-side with their public sector counterparts at any of the doctoral universities;
  • Implement the key recommendations of the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission (VRTAC), including the creation of a defined tax exemption for private investors rather than the current unpredictable tax credit program;
  • Expand the scope of CIT to become the Virginia Advanced Research Alliance
    ­ the focal point and engine that will drive all of these initiatives forward."


Back in 2003, Kilgore addressed the Virginia Biotechnology Summit. His press release about the event is available here.

If anyone has more information about some of these positions, especially on the "Partnership Fund" and tech transfer issues, please let us know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Biotech @ Greater Richmond Companies to Watch Event

The Greater Richmond Companies to Watch (CRCTW) Event is being held next Wednesday October 5th at Main Street Station. This event will feature the announcement of the first annual GRCTW list (10-12 companies) deemed most likely to have significant future economic impact in the region. The event is organized by The Venture Forum with sponsorship by Troutman Sanders and others.

I want to personally encourage each of you to attend this event and take advantage of the opportunity to hear the featured speaker Scott Rasmussen, co-founder of ESPN, and network with representatives of up and coming businesses in the region. For more information and to register see the event web site:

You won't want to miss being there to find out which life science companies make the list..........................I'm sworn to secrecy but I think our industry will be nicely represented.

Governor Warner's Budget and Biotechnology

Back in 2002, Governor Warner created the "Governor's Advisory Board for the Virginia Biotechnology Initiative." The group was charged with identifying initiatives to ensure that the Commonwealth is well positioned as an attractive location for the bioscience industry.

Over the course of three years, the commission released a number of reports and persistently advocated for projects that were, in the eyes of the members, critical to maintain the companies we had, let alone be an attractive place for those interested in relocation.

The major recommendations of the Commission were distilled down into a short list of projects. The governor included $10 million in bonds for the biotech shell buildings project in 2004, but that language was stripped out by the House and Senate money committees. In 2005, the governor surprised all of us when he included no money at all for the facilities initiative. VaBIO took up the effort and recruited sponsors for budget amendments that were ultimately unsuccessful.

Now we are closing in on the governor's final budget before he leaves office in January. This is the last chance we have before a new administration arrives in town and the whole economic development study commission process starts all over again and we are back to square one.

Governor Warner has been quoted in a few places saying that he is planning to include significant funding in his last budget for a biomedical project of some kind. We sincerely hope that he will utilize the recommendations his biotech commission has provided after literally years of study and hard work.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Biotech After Hours in Tyson's Corner

Thanks to the kindness of Scheer Partners, VaBIO held a "Biotech After Hours" last Thursday at the Tower Club in Tyson's Corner. More than 130 people pre-registered for the event. The food, drink and views of Northern Virginia from the top of the club were great.

The event was also sponsored by The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Moazzam & Latimer, Keller & Heckman, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Finnegan Henderson, IBM, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and the NVTC.

The club is a great venue for events like this. Be warned, however, that they take their dress code very seriously. I had spent the earlier part of the day at the President's Cup golf tournament out in Manassas thanks to the folks at Prince William County Economic Development. I was still wearing my shorts and golf shirt when I arrived at the Tower Club to set up all of my signs, name badges, etc. While on a quick tour of the place before I had a moment to go and change into my suit and tie, the manager aksed Dan Gonzales (our host from Scheer Partners) if he could have a quick word in private. It turned out that he was complaining because I was not dressed appropriately and that they would have to ask me to leave!

To all of those who came, thanks very much-- especially those new to the industry and VaBIO. We look forward to having another "BAH" up there soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Charlottesville Bioscience Luncheon Series

VaBIO is working with the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council to set up a bi-monthly brown bag-style luncheon series dedicated to topics of interest to our bioscience entrepreneurs. The first event will be in November and it will address the hidden surprises lurking in the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. It is the foundation of today's university tech transfer system and should be of significant interest to everyone who has licensed anything from an institution of higher education.

The main speaker will be MaryAnne Armstrong from Birch, Stewart, Kolasch and Birch, a Northern Virginia Patent law firm.

If anyone has any suggestions, let us know.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mid-Atlantic Bio-- Sell Out?

The latest news from the host committee is that the exhibit hall is over-booked and there are already nearly 500 people registered or coming as sponsors or speakers.

This is remarkable since we still have five weeks to go and the main marketing push has not even started yet. For an inaugural event, this is shaping up to be an impressive launch.

As it is not too late to play a role in the planning for the event, anyone who has an interest should contact me or any member of the host committee.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Mid-Atlantic Bio Experiment

Due to the remarkable response, the exhibit hall at the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Bio event is sold out. In fact, about 6 companies were added today to the waiting list and may not find a space in the hall. The number of major sponsors and the rush we have seen for the "early bird" registration rates is a pretty strong indication that this idea of merging the Virginia and Maryland biotech meetings into a joint event, with our two new partners, was well worth the effort.

The prevailing motivation from the start was to help raise awareness of all the great resources we have in this area-- from Gaithersburg on down through the Commonwealth to the Research Triangle. If a few more VC funds knew about the quality of this bioscience corridor, we might see an increase in deal flow.

Of course, something like that will take years to accomplish and this is just, I hope, a good first effort.

Launching the Virginia Bioscience Blog

Thanks to the encouragement of Mark Licata at BioTrack, the Virginia Biotechnology Association is trying out a new form of communication. This "blog" is intended as a way for our community to network and discuss issues facing the biotech/device industry in the Commonwealth.

Will it be helpful? Good question. A lot will depend on how much traffic we get and the level of discussion.