Friday, October 28, 2011

VABIO Welcomes 9 New Members So Far in October

The VABIO team is thrilled to welcome nine new members so far this October! The enthusiasm in the Virginia bioscience community is truly contagious! Companies joining this month include: Greenbrier Wealth Management of Raymond James; NIH Federal Credit Union; Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton LLP; AIBiotech; SNBL Clinical Pharmacology Center; Zansors LLC; Extinction Pharmaceuticals; Bode Technology; and Williams Mullin Clark and Dobbins.

There is still a few days left to join in October!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

November 8 will have an Impact on Bioscience Companies

Every four years, all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are up for election at the same time. Every ten years, the district lines change after the decennial United States census. The election coming up on Tuesday, November 8th is just such an occasion and members of the Virginia House and Senate are all trying to get to know their new constituents, fend off challengers, and get reelected to their seats.

These final two weeks before Election Day are a great time to talk with your life science colleagues in your office and around your community about how critical good public policies are for the growth of the bioscience industry in Virginia. Volunteers from member companies of VABIO have been working hard over the last several years to pass legislation to help emerging technology companies grow in the Commonwealth.

For example, in the last three years, VABIO (along with partners such as the NVTC) successfully lobbied for the passage of Virginia’s Refundable R&D Tax Credit, $2 Million in state matching funds for SBIR awards, a 100% capital gains tax exclusion on investments in bioscience companies in Virginia, the $4 Million CRCF fund for commercialization, $8 Million for clinical trials at UVA and VCU, as well as an overhaul of the state’s “Angel Investor Tax Credit” that provides a 50% credit on a bioscience investment up to $50,000.

These are huge victories for the bioscience industry in Virginia and never would have occurred without the active help of individuals, working in the industry, who took a few minutes to make a call to a legislator, sent an email or walked the halls of the legislature with the VABIO staff.

If you would like to see these programs continue or be expanded, now is a great time to let your Delegate or Senator know. Take a moment and tell them who you are, what you care about, and that you will be voting on November 8th. Encourage your co-workers to do the same.

Here are links to help you identify your legislators:
Who are my legislators?
VABIO Public Policy Page:

If you have any questions or want to get more involved, please contact the VABIO staff at 804-643-6360.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eric Cantor To Host Jobs Panel Thursday at Biotech Park in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA – On Thursday, October 20th at 10:00 a.m. Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07) will host a roundtable with representatives of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park to discuss ways to create jobs and spur economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship. Following the roundtable, Congressman Cantor will hold a brief press availability and then tour the Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc.

WHO: Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07)

WHAT: Hosts Jobs Roundtable & Tours Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc.

WHEN: Thursday, October 20, 2011
10:00 AM – Roundtable
11:15 AM – Tour

WHERE: Virginia BioTechnology Research Park
Biotech Center – Atrium
800 East Leigh Street
Richmond, VA

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rough Day on Wall Street for Former VA Biotech Companies

It has been a tough day on Wall Street for two former Virginia bioscience companies. Details from BusinessWeek:

Allos Therapeutics Inc. (ALTH US) slumped 17 percent, the third-most in the Russell 2000 Index, to $1.46. The cancer drug developer said an anonymous bidder has withdrawn a takeover offer of $2.20 a share in cash and stock. Amag Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMAG US), which is also vying to acquire Allos, gained 2.4 percent to $13.49.

Insmed Inc. (INSM US) fell the most in the Russell 2000, plunging 31 percent to $3.01. The maker of drugs for endocrine disorders said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing a clinical hold on its phase 3 trials for Arikace in cystic fibrosis patients with lung disease.

Both of these firms started out in Richmond, Virginia. Hang in there! It is always darkest before the dawn.

Friday, October 07, 2011

If you’re a scientist looking to build a startup, good management is key

Check out the article regarding the VaBIO Greater Richmond Bioscience Luncheon that took place yesterday.

Research officers at Virginia’s universities grapple with a difficult task every day: helping scientists turn laboratory inventions into marketable products.

The trick, according to a group of bio-technology experts who gathered for a luncheon Thursday at the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, is helping highly-trained scientists hone their business skills. The lunch was part of a monthly series organized by the Virginia Biotechnology Association.

“At the end of the day, if you’re looking to raise money, you’re in a sales mode,” said Mike Drzal, an attorney at LeClairRyan. “If you don’t have the basic sales tools nailed down, you are in for a rough ride.”

Drzal, who represents life-science entrepreneurs, said there are three key tools: an executive summary about your business idea, a business plan and a slide deck that explains your product. Drzal said he’s amazed how many would-be startups prepare for meetings with potential investors without a formal business plan. He said he always tries to stop them and make sure they’ve got well-designed plan.

Erika Smith, CEO of BioTherapeutics, has spent time on both sides of the investing scene. After years of working for small life-science companies, she now works as an angel investor. She said entrepreneurs should be sure to understand what drives different investors.

“What motivates angels can vary,” she said. “There’s some interest in [return on investment], of course, but there are other reasons for why people want to give their time, money and energy.”

One angel investor might have a special interest in funding companies pursuing cancer drugs or treatments, she noted. The interest in that sector may be motivated by personal experiences, such as losing a family member to cancer.

Mark Crowell is executive director for innovation partnerships at the University of Virginia. He said that when his office is working to help one of the school’s researchers, it prefers to back products that have “multiple applications across multiple markets.” But it’s even more important, he said, to find scientists who can be effective partners with investors and business executives, people who are “teachable” and willing to admit their ability to decode a genetic sequence may exceed their ability to prepare a balance sheet.

Smith, the angel investor, said the mantra of venture capitalists and other investors is “management, management, management. That’s what it all comes down to.”

Drzal said investors are looking for a “bankable” CEO, someone with proven business experience who can help guide the inventor. Not many people, he noted, can handle both tasks, especially if the person is continuing with other teaching and research duties.

“The other thing we look for is the King’s English,” Drzal said. “I see 50 presentations a year, and if I can’t understand it, an investor who doesn’t see that many of these definitely can’t figure it out. Don’t forget the importance of communicating effectively.”

Ken Carter, CEO of Nobel Life Sciences, says the inventor must understand that everybody has to win and get a return on the product for it to really grow and succeed.

“I tell folks that instead of owning 100 percent of a grape, you and the world will be better off if you own 10 percent of a big, juicy watermelon.

Drzal urged the scientists in the audience to “spend your time on what you know” and let other professionals handle the nitty-gritty details surrounding accounting, incorporation structures and other business issues.

“I often tell my clients, ‘I won’t be a biophysicist if you won’t practice law,’” he said.

Written by: Jacob Geiger