Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Carilion Biomedical Institute is creating dividends

Here is an op-ed from the Roanoke Times...

Carilion Biomedical Institute is creating dividends
Daniel Barchi

Barchi is president of the Carilion Biomedical Institute and chief information officer of Carilion.

The Carilion Biomedical Institute has achieved many exciting milestones since its creation in 1999. Some are visible, such as the activity at the Riverside Center on Reserve Avenue. Some are less visible, but just as important to the development of the region. The CBI board of directors has asked me to share our progress report with the community.

The Carilion Biomedical Institute was established to stimulate regional economic development through medical technology advancement, business creation and research collaboration.

We have delivered on these goals with more than $33 million in economic impact, 10 new companies and 60 new jobs in the Roanoke and New River valleys since 2003. Another milestone will be reached when CBI moves into its new building on Riverside Center next month.

More important than these accomplishments, however, are the relationships and institutions that have sprung from CBI that are now creating growth even beyond CBI's long-term targets.

CBI's goal is to stimulate research by investing in partnerships among Carilion, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. By the end of 2006, these three institutions had collaborated to conduct $17 million in laboratory research which has resulted in 100 discoveries, 68 inventions and 22 patents.

While those numbers are significant, the longer-term outcome of this work has been the full-blown partnership between Carilion and Virginia Tech that now includes the recently announced joint medical school and a Carilion/Virginia Tech research institute, which will have the expertise to continue advancing the research mission and spawn research that far exceeds CBI's early lofty goals.

CBI's medical technology advancement goal has been built around our ability to create new companies from university research and attract other growing companies to this area to join a growing bioscience enterprise.

One of the companies that CBI created from laboratory research is OcuCure, Inc., which used CBI-sponsored technology and investment to create an eye-drop formula to stop macular degeneration, blood vessel growth at the back of the eye that blinds 200,000 Americans annually.

OcuCure, headquartered in Roanoke, has now raised more than $2 million in investment and is working to develop the compound into an FDA-approved drug.

CBI used a small seed investment to start OcuCure and several other companies, which are young but growing. CBI's incubation work for small companies led Carilion and Virginia Tech to discuss the need for more investment capital in the region to relocate or fund larger companies and facilitate faster growth.

The result of that conversation is NewVa Capital Partners, a $14 million investment pool funded by Virginia Tech, Carilion and Third Security of Radford, which now invests in promising companies that operate in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

With its move into the new building, CBI is helping to achieve the goal of developing Riverside Center from a brownfield into a business park.

With the partnership of the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the city of Roanoke, Carilion has developed the first biomedical building ahead of schedule, secured a hotel that is now under construction, made plans for a 200,000-square-foot Carilion Clinic building and identified the site for the Carilion/Virginia Tech joint medical school.

By developing new research, companies and jobs, CBI has already created more economic impact than the capital invested in it at its inception. CBI could continue to grow itself and its staff to achieve its goals independently.

Instead, we will focus on our primary business of assisting physician researchers and facilitating medical technology transfer. More important, by facilitating the partnerships and collaborations outlined above, CBI has helped create for this region independent research, business development and education organizations that will help the Roanoke and New River valleys achieve even greater economic success.

No comments: