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It’s hard starting a new biotech business, especially if biotech entrepreneurs find themselves bootstrapping a new business in isolation. Yet distributed across our region is a healthy ecosystem of thriving biotech businesses. Between these regional businesses and some well-respected research institutions, it’s clear that the northeast has the potential to support an active and productive community of biotech entrepreneurs.

So when the NIH invited Jake Reder, co-founder and CEO of Celdara Medical in Lebanon, NH, and Mercedes Rincon, Professor of Medicine at the University of Vermont, to apply for a new grant supporting the creation of regional biomedical accelerator hubs, they jumped at the chance to pull together a dream team of experts on medical entrepreneurship in the northeast.

Jake named the new hub project “DRIVEN”, the acronym borrowing letters from the abbreviations for each of the five states that the hub will serve: Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. The hub already includes key organizations from these states, namely Celdara Medical, Simbex, Dartmouth, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont, the University of Delaware, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Maine Medical Center, Brown, and the University of Rhode Island.

The first three years of DRIVEN hub development are covered by the new grant, ultimately launching the hub into self-sustainability. The grant-funded phase of DRIVEN starts this year with a focus on identifying and curating the existing biotech resources in the northeast region. “We don’t want to recreate resources already out there and that are already great!” says Julie Coleman, the project manager hired specifically to oversee DRIVEN. Each DRIVEN institution has identified a pair of entrepreneurship leaders. Their first task is to identify existing resources, at their institutions, and in their states. Once resources have been identified, the DRIVEN team will collect and curate them on an educational website targeted to anyone with ambitions for biomedical entrepreneurship.

The team plans to spend the first year talking directly with the community of researchers and biotech entrepreneurs already working around the northeast. They will learn what technological resources they rely on, what resources are missing, and how to help them connect with each other. “We want to engage as many people as we can,” Julie says.

Years two and three of the grant will cover the creation of new tools based on the research of the first year. Those deliverables haven’t been determined yet, but Jake expects they will involve curating existing resources so new entrepreneurs can educate themselves, such as recording webinars and connecting people with internships. And perhaps most importantly, DRIVEN will need a business model to keep the hub self-sustaining after the three-year grant period.

Mercedes summed up their hopes for the DRIVEN hub, saying “Our goal is to facilitate small biomedical entrepreneurship in these five states. There are a surprising number of small biomedical businesses, we just need to connect everyone, so everyone can benefit.” After all, in the end it’s not just about business: adds Jake, “If we’re able to increase entrepreneurial success that translates to new medicines making it to patients.”

Want to learn more or help the DRIVEN hub? Julie will be holding a webinar on November 12th called “Introducing the DRIVEN Accelerator Hub.” For more information and to register please visit: http://med.uvm.edu/itrep/webinars.

 You can get in touch with the DRIVEN team at info@drivenacceleratorhub.com.

I have been attending different scientific conferences, exhibits, and courses since the days of my Ph.D. training, well over 30 years ago. Some highlights include the Society for Neuroscience, the Microscopy Society, the Biophysical Society, and Photonics.

The Vermont Booth.

My background is in Cellular Biology and Fluorescence Imaging and my current position as Applications Scientist for Chroma Technology mostly involves training users with advanced microscopy equipment to use our optics for biomedical research and fluorescence, as well as diagnostic applications.

When the VBSA Board of Directors first started talking about the BIO International Convention, I did a little research and thought that the Convention looked interesting, but mostly it looked “marketing and sales”–oriented. However, I figured any meeting or conference with this many people attending had to have something to offer, right? I thought that I would wear my “Vermont Biosciences Hat” for the meeting and see.

A small corner of the BIO International Convention floor.

I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised! Having all these countries, states, and businesses represented was not only a treat for the eyes but much more interesting (at a variety of levels) than I could have imagined. There were actually several companies there that we, at Chroma, do business with around the world. And there were several people who knew researchers whom I have worked with over the years, especially from Core Facilities (mostly at Universities) that do fluorescence and imaging research. I ended up with several business cards and emails from folks interested in future work, and I have heard from several already about different projects that they think I might be able to help with.

In addition, the participants and attendees were curious, energetic, and truly pleasant to talk to.  I wish I could say that for all of the meetings mentioned above.

All-in-all the BIO International Convention was a great meeting/conference for me and Chroma. Now I must say that I don’t think I convinced anyone to move their company to Vermont, but I might have the names of several people that could be interested in working here in the future. More than worth the time and money, and I truly hope that we can arrange to go again next year.

– Michael Stanley, Senior Applications Scientist, Chroma Technology

BIO 2018 International Convention

by VBSA-admin on May 30, 2018

The world’s largest biotechnology exhibition will be in our backyard this summer at the BIO 2018 International Convention. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, will be hosting their annual convention in Boston on June 4-7 for its 25th anniversary.
BIO represents 1,100+ biotech companies, organizations, research institutions, and more across the US and internationally. Their membership covers the full range from entrepreneurs to multinational corporations, but the majority are small companies. While BIO is an active organization influencing policy and providing member support year-round, their annual convention is their most publicized event, drawing 16,000+ attendees from 74 countries. The goal of the convention is to support the growth of the global biotechnology industry and profits fund BIO’s on-going programs and initiatives.
The convention started small in 1993 with just 1,400 attendees and a handful of trade press. While it has grown greatly in participation, the convention has kept many familiar themes, including educational and networking opportunities around raising capital, negotiating federal regulation requirements, and understanding patent trends.
Today the BIO Exhibition showcases the latest trends, technology, and breakthroughs on the largest tradeshow floor in the biotechnology industry. At the exhibition, the convention has something for everyone with 1500+ educational sessions, networking events and locations, and their special partnering system.
BIO One-on-One Partnering assists companies in finding potential partners and investors through a profile system that allows participants to pre-schedule half-hour private meetings during the convention. Once at the convention, the partnering program provides access to the BIO Business Forum, with rooms and suites for pre-scheduled meetings, Company Presentations to raise participants’ visibility in the BIO community, an Academic Campus focused on the university and technology transfer sectors, and Exhibitor Booth Partnering during the exhibition.
The exhibition is organized into Product Focus Zones that allow exhibitors to strategically position themselves, highlighting their area of expertise and becoming more findable to attendees with specific interests. The Focus Zones support specialty networking within the areas of Bioprocessing, Contract Services, Digital Health, Discovery, and Innovation.
Recognizing the unique needs of start-ups, the exhibition hosts the Start-Up Stadium where emerging biotech companies can connect with investors, venture philanthropists, and industry advisors. Start-ups are invited to participate in an interactive pitch experience where they present 5- to 7-minute pitches to a panel of investors and receive live feedback.
The exhibition is also host to the Patient Advocacy Pavilion, aimed at connecting biopharmaceutical companies, patient advocacy organizations, and venture philanthropists with the goal of advancing therapy development. 40+ patient organizations participate in the Patient Advocacy Pavilion, all keen to further drug development by funding research and helping companies understand patient needs.
The 25th anniversary BIO 2018 International Convention promises to be another exciting event with presentation, education, and networking opportunities for everyone in the biosciences. Registration is open now and you can find more information at http://convention.bio.org/. Can’t make it to the 2018 Convention but still want to learn more? You can check out their blog, BIOtechNOW at http://www.biotech-now.org/.