Innovation in the bio-sciences is frequently viewed as something that comes from the Coasts first, and the Central US is often overlooked. I would like to challenge this misconception and offer a blog forum for innovators to voice their opinions.
Biotechnology encompasses work in traditional pharmaceuticals, cell therapies, regenerative medicine, other biologics, animal health/ veterinarian medicine, agriculture, alternative fuels, and many other loosely defined fields. As part of Fisher BioServices, I have the opportunity to work with many companies and academic centers who are developing innovative biological and cellular products for commercialization. I have targeted the Central US for this discussion on innovation because it offers some unique opportunities and challenges.
Innovation often starts at the academic level, as primary research is often the catalyst to bring products and services to market, and the Central US has no lack of great academic centers of excellence. These centers partner with private industry to promote innovation, as the biotech incubator is often the first step outside of academia. Outside of academia, Imbed Biosciences Inc., a biotech start up initiated by Ankit Agarwal has been very successful in bringing their technology to the market. Agarwal started as a post doc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in December 2010, received seed funding from the NIH, and now has become a leader of entrepreneurship in the life sciences industry.
What Central US centers are churning out most of the new ideas? Which ones are good at specific areas? Which ones are overlooked? What are their avenues to bring innovations to market? I'm starting with a not-at-all-comprehensive list of some of the biotech incubators in the Central US, below. I ask that readers submit their own biotech incubators—I will add them to the list and update the links. This is meant to be an on-going forum that will grow with reader feedback, alphabetically, by state:
Arkansas: UAMS Arkansas BioVentures
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Innosphere
Illinois: Illinois Science and Technology Park
Indiana: Purdue Research Park
Michigan: Ann Arbor Spark Central Incubator
Michigan: Southwest Michigan Innovation Center
Michigan: Techtown Detroit
Minnesota: University Enterprise Labs
Missouri: Center For Emerging Technologies
Nebraska: Technology Development Center
Ohio: Tech Columbus
Tennessee: ETSU Innovation Lab
Texas: Houston Technology Center
Texas: Tech Fort Worth
Wisconsin: University Research Park
Innovation often follows the money, and when venture capital is scarce, innovators often rely on states and universities to fill the capital void. One example is the Texas’ three billion dollar CPRIT grant: States like Texas, who have made significant funds and entrepreneurial support service (bio-incubators and technology centers) available for entrepreneurs, often have the most start ups. Houston is a hub of activity for companies engaging in new cellular therapies and regenerative medicine, which is not surprising given the presence of Baylor, Rice, University of Houston and MD Anderson.
However, in the new age of social media investors and entrepreneurs can “link up” through sites like LinkedIn. Anyone with a computer, internet connection, and an idea can get started. Micro investing sites like Kiva and Prosper can provide the earliest seed money to get a venture off the ground.
Send in the name of your company and what type of research you are engaged in. I will compile this into the next blog and continue to informally track "bio-innovation in the Central US" and discuss and analyze any trends that can be garnered. The end goal here is to help bio-innovators find information to help them as they strive for commercialization.
“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.” Winston Churchill