Speaking on April 11 at the BIO 2006 International Annual Convention, former President Bill Clinton discussed the importance of biotechnology in addressing food security and health issues in the developing world.
"The first obligation of society is to feed its people," said Clinton. "Biotechnology can help us feed more people while addressing environmental concerns such as global climate change."
Clinton also discussed the importance of efficiently managing agricultural production. Climate change and top soil erosion are two key aspects of environmental health that agricultural biotechnology can address. The third is energy policy.
"I'm proud to have supported the development of crops improved through biotechnology and the creation of science-based regulations during my Administration. These crops reduce inputs, allow us to grow more food on less land, and easily transfer technology to people in the developing world. When we empower individuals to feed and care for their families, it is a good thing."
"All of these applications of biotechnology – agricultural, environmental, energy, medical – have the potential to lift people out of poverty. This integration of communities will lead to greater global security."
"President Clinton is a tireless advocate for many of the challenging issues that face mankind such as global health, and ending poverty and hunger in developing nations," said James C. Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). "As President Clinton emphasized today, biotechnology has the potential to improve the world for future generations."
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.
While Wisconsin ranks in the middle of the 50-state pack by some investment indicators, its supply of angel capital is growing, according to a report commissioned by the Wisconsin Technology Council.
``Risk Capital in Wisconsin: A Progress Report'' is the last of four updates on the Tech Council's 2002 report, "Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy,'' which set goals for the growth of the state's tech economy.
The report is being released this morning during the annual BIO convention in Chicago, where a large Wisconsin delegation is attending.
The report by NorthStar Economics, Inc., in Madison charted three pockets of angel investing:
--Wisconsin's angel networks invested nearly $5.6 million in 20 deals involving start-up companies in 2005, up from nine deals totaled $3.4 million in 2004. Total network deals (19) in all of 2002 and 2003 were $3.2 million.
--Data reported to the Wisconsin Department of Commerce due to the enactment of a statewide tax credit program for early-stage investments revealed 40 deals worth $15.5 million in 2005. Less than $2 million of that total overlapped with the network deals.
--Data voluntarily reported by six private law firms to the Wisconsin Angel Network, a project of the Tech Council, revealed $66.6 million in 43 individual deals. This was the first time such data has been available in Wisconsin.
Discounting overlap between the angel network deals and the Commerce data, total investing activity from those two sources alone was $19.6 million. Even if there was a complete overlap in individual angel investment data between the Commerce data and the data collected by WAN, individual angel investing activity in Wisconsin exceeded $51 million in 2005.
Combined with the network investments, that's more than $56 million in angel investing. That compares to $69 million in venture capital investments in Wisconsin during the same period.
--Wisconsin continues to lag in venture capital investments, but its angel capital performance is impressive,'' Tech Council President Tom Still said. ``Today's angel capital investments are helping to build companies that could attract tomorrow's venture capital investments.''
Two years ago, Howard Teeter moved back to Wisconsin from Toronto to start Anteco Pharma in Lodi because of the Badger State's strength in biotechnology research and because he believed Wisconsin was a good place to do business.
So Teeter was delighted to hear Gov. Jim Doyle forcefully defend stem cell research in Wisconsin when he spoke at the Wisconsin pavilion Monday at BIO 2006 in Chicago.
He also said he was impressed that at least four members of Doyle's cabinet came to the convention and that top UW-Madison stem cell researchers Jamie Thomson and Gabriel Cezar accompanied Doyle.
"Looks to me like Wisconsin is pulling out the stops," said Teeter, whose company focuses in part on contract drug manufacturer.
"It's good to see powerful people backing your industry," Teeter said. "We need the support to grow and I think good things are happening, especially at UW-Madison, but elsewhere around the state, too."
Doyle praised the recent donations of $50 million by the Morgridge family and another $50 million from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to pay for two-thirds of the first phase of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. (The other $50 million will come from the state.)
"We have a lot of great research to build on," he told a crowd gathered at the pavilion. "And we will use it to enhance a segment of our economy that will improve and save lives.
"It doesn't get much better than that," he said.
Later, speaking to a Quarles & Brady law firm-sponsored reception in the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building, Doyle had even stronger words about stem cell research.
"When I tell leaders in the biotechnology world that I had to veto legislation to keep stem cell research going in Wisconsin, they can't believe anyone would want to do away with what we have accomplished," he said.
"But I refuse to let politics trump science," he said. "Especially when it holds so much potential to so much good."
Doyle also said he believes more financial support is flowing to Wisconsin companies and that those dollars will lead to more high-paying jobs in the state.
Thomson, who first isolated human embryonic stem cells, said he hoped that Wisconsin would never end support for his studies.
And he predicted that the federal government will eventually lift its prohibition on funding of certain stem cell lines.
With the sun sinking below the western Chicago skyline, he also put the kibosh on any possible moves away from Wisconsin – at least in the near future.
"At the end of the day, it's a lot better to beat Harvard than to join them," he said to cheers from the Hancock building crowd.
Cezar, a native of Brazil, also praised the accomplishments of Wisconsin scientists and said that was what drew her away from a career with the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. A veterinarian by training, she earned her PhD at UW-Madison before going to work in private industry.
"I'm convinced I made the right decision," said Cezar. "UW-Madison is a world leader in stem cell research. It has the strongest stem cell IP (intellectual property) portfolio in the world and it's my goal to help translate that research into business and jobs in Wisconsin.
"I'm honored to be part of this and want to do all I can to help it go forward," she said.
John Powers says he never misses a chance to tell his colleagues in Washington State about Wisconsin and the great research produced by UW-Madison scientists.
"Once a badger, always a badger," said Powers, a native of Lake Geneva.
Powers, an attorney and former mayor of Spokane, Wa., now works for Enterprise Seattle.
"I say look at Wisconsin, look at WARF as a model," Powers said. "When people in Washington State are looking for best-practices, I tell them about Wisconsin has done for technology transfer."
Greg Horowitt, who works with a San Diego-based organization called Global Connect, agreed that UW-Madison is well-known in the academic world for its research prowess.
"Certainly WARF has a very high profile," he said. "And UW-Madison is one of the top 10 research universities in the country.
"Whether that translates into creating businesses is another question," he mused.
Horowitt said 20 years ago, San Diego had to "yank down" venture capitalists from the San Francisco Bay area to get them to invest in the city.
"But we were only a hour plane ride from the Bay Area," he said, noting that San Diego now has between 400 and 500 biotech firms and up to $1 billion in VC money invested in the area annually. Another $1 billion in research financing also flows into the city.
Victor Hwang, who works with the Larta Institute in Los Angeles, argued against Wisconsin being able to replicate San Diego's success, however. Larta provides venture capital, seed funding, economic research, and business assistance to entrepreneurs and companies.
"Wisconsin needs to focus on what it does best and that's research," he said. "It needs to focus its strong research talents. I don't know if that is going to produce big companies, but probably more small research and drug disovery enterprises."
At first blush, it might seem odd that the Restaino Bunbury Real Estate Co. is a sponsor of the Wiscsonsin Pavilion at BIO 2006.
But the firm is here and has a prominent sign in the 1,600-square-foot pavilion and hosts a small, private meeting area at the site.
Why a real estate company amongst hundreds of life-science companies, states and countries touting their life-science prowess?
"We are here to put a face on Madison and Wisconsin," said Bette MacCarthy, head of business development. "When biotech researchers or companies want to come to Wisconsin, we can tell them what a great place it is to live and work."
MacCarthy noted that her company is the preferred vendor for the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.
"I was just speaking with an Italian fellow and bragging about our state," she said. "We're biased, but we think Wisconsin is a wonderful place to do business and research."
In addition to Restaino Bunbury, other non-science sponsors of the pavilion include First Weber, the Flad and Associates engineering company and Skyline marketing firm.
What is 16-feet-tall at its highest point, covers 1,600 square feet, has lots of red and - for the next few days - is the hub of anything and everything that deals with the life sciences in Wisconsin?
It's the Badger State pavilion at BIO 2006 in Chicago and is the site where Gov. Jim Doyle will speak this afternoon to tell the world why life biotech companies should locate in Wisconsin.
The theme for the state's pavilion, appropriately, is "It's All Here." Wisconsin is spending more than $270,000 on this year's effort, a multi-fold increase over last year.
Though there are taller pavilions - some companies have two floors - the 16-foot-tall UW-Madison post stands out from pavilions that surround it. It is also on one of the main thoroughfares, which should help attract visitors.
In addition to talking business and listening to scientists speak at a small theater in the pavilion, people were lifting an ultralight Trek Madrone bicycle this morning that will be given away at the conference.
Directly across the isle from the Wisconsin pavilion is the more modest 600-square-foot Nebraska pavilion, which was drawing gawkers by the score to talk to a robot named "Sprockit" that has more than a little artificial ingtelligence.
The robot can engage in better conversation than most teenagers and speak a variety of languages. It also boasts about Nebraska's biotech industry, of course.
A stone's throw away is the sizable German pavilion that covers 5,500 square feet. The Germans, pavilion officials said, are spending $1 million to tell their life science story at the conference.
California, surprisingly, only has a 2,000-square-foot presence and is spending but $100,000 this year at BIO 2006.
But at Pennsylvania, which hosted the last BIO conference, the pavilion was 4,000 square feet and featured, of all things, a Harley Davidson Sportster that will be given away tomorrow night.
Why a Wisconsin-made Harley? Actually, noted a Pennsylvania official, Harley has been making motorcycles in York, Pa. for decades. So there.
Arguably the largest pavilion on the convention floor is operated by Illinois, the host state.
It covers 6,400 square feet. A spokesman for the Illinois delegation said his state paid $1 million alone to bring BIO 2006 to Chicago and another $500,000 for the pavilion, receptions and other activities.
Elsewhere among Midwestern states, Iowa has a 2,200-square-foot pavilion. An official said the Hawkeye State is spending about $230,000 on BIO 2006 - including $180,000 for the closing reception.
Wisconsin is not only home to one of the top research universities in the country and elite stem cell scientists Jamie Thomson and Gabriela Cezar.
It can now claim the best biotechnology teacher in the United States and Canada.
Her name is Kathryn Eilert and she teaches biology and biotechnology at Middleton High School. She was named the Genzyme-Invitrogen National Biotech Educator of the Year for 2006 this weekend.
WisBusiness.com caught up with Eilert, who has been teaching for a dozen years, on the floor of the BIO 2006 convention today.
Eilert said most of her students are enthusiastic about the future of the life sciences.
"And so am I," said Eilert, who was visiting the Wisconsin pavilion. She also has attended BIO conferences in San Diego and Toronto.
"My students open the newspaper and see a lot of biotech in their own backyard," she said. "I think the future of bitoech in Wisconsin is great."
Eilert said it's her role to help grow the next generation of inovators and scientists.
"They are really into stem cells and the potential they hold for breakthroughs in medicine and science," she said.
Ironically, Eilert said many of her pupils want to leave Wisconsin to go to college.
"They know what a great research university UW-Madison is," she said. "But they want to try something different for college. It'd be nice to keep some of them here. And I hope there will be more good life science jobs to lure them back."
A report due out this morning at Chicago's BIO 2006 mega-conference shows Wisconsin's biotech industry is growing slowly but steadily.
The study, prepared by the Battelle Memorial Institute, was good news for the Badger State delegation which is here in force to encourage companies to locate in Wisconsin. The report covered the period from 2001 to 2004.
Economic officials are keen to attract bioscience firms, in part because they pay an average annual salary $66,000, more than $26,000 than the average private sector annual wage, the study said.
According to the report, the state had moderate employment gains in medical devices; agriculture, feed stock and chemicals; research, testing and medical labs; and pharmaceuticals.
Wisconsin's weakest bioscience segment is drugs, where it has less than 1 percent of the country's employment. For the agricultural feedstock, chemicals and research; and research, testing and medical lab segments, the figure rises to less than 3 percent of total U.S. employment.
The brightest part of the study showed the Badger State has Wisconsin has between 3 and 5 percent of the national employment in medical devices - in large part because of Waukesha's GE Healthcare.
"Overall, this is yet another sign that biotech in Wisconsin is on the verge of taking off in Wisconsin," said Charlie Hoslet, head of the Office of Corporate Relations at UW-Madison.
"We are just coming out of the building stage in place like Madison, Milwaukee and Marshfield," he said.
"Things are bubbling, almost on the verge of exploding," he said. "In the not-too-distant future, when people think of biotech, they'll think of Wisconsin.
"The total biosciences industry in our state already produces 20,000 jobs and has an economic impact of roughly $5 billion," he said. "That's about the same impact as UW-Madison."
Hoslet said Badger State boosters often bemoan that the profile of life-science companies on the coasts is much larger than Wisconsin's.
"That's true, but they've been at it in some ways for a couple more decades than we have," he said. "University Research Park in Madison, for example, is only 20 years old. Its counterparts around Boston or in the Research Triangle are 20 to 30 years older.
"With the building of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery on the UW-Madison campus, our profile is only going to rise," he said.
Jan Alf of Forward Wisconsin, coordinator of the 1,600-square-foot Wisconsin Pavilion at BIO 2006, said the report pleased her, too.
"Moderate increases shows we are making strides," she said. "We aren't where we want to be yet, but we are moving in the right direction. We're here to encourage that trend."
See the full report at www.bio.org/local/battelle2006
For Michael Zwick, vice president of Business Development for Madison's Neoclone Technologies, Chicago's BIO 2006 is all about networking.
"This really isn't a trade show for research," said Zwick, who has been in the biotechnology business for more than a dozen years.
"For that, we'd go to other conferences," he said between bites of ribs at a Ditka's, an iconic Chicago restaurant where a joint Manitoba-Australian biotech party was held Sunday night.
Zwick, whose company does custom development work for companies all over the globe -- among other things -- said "everyone is here. This gives us the chance to meet with customers we met otherwise never meet in person.
"It also gives us the chance to meet with other biotech companies that we'd like to work with," he said.
Zwick said Neoclone ponied up about $4,000 to help sponsor the 1,600-square-foot Wisconsin pavilion.
"It's money very well spent," he said. "We aren't presenting here, but we have our brochures. For us, BIO 2006 is about meeting people and getting our name out."
Zwick praised Wisconsin's effort this year, which is much larger than it had last year in Philadelphia.
"The challenge we face in Wisconsin is that we are not a biotech magnet," he said. "But recognition of our state is growing and this can only help.
"What Wisconsin needs is more venture capital money and a big pharmaceutical company," he said. "Telling our story to anyone who's interested can only help."
And how did Zwick end up at Ditka's?
"We do some work with Australian companies," he said. "That's how my company got the invitation."
BIO 2006 kicked off in the Windy City today and the floor of one of the main halls at McCormick Place Convention Center is a sea of booths from scores of countries, states and individual companies touting their prowess.
By Monday, the construction debris will be gone and as many as 20,000 biotech types will be swarming the floor for the four-day conference.
The Wisconsin Pavilion, which is part of a more than $270,000 effort by the Badger State to tell its story and attract biotech companies, is nearly complete.
The state is spending roughly $60,000 in taxpayer dollars, according to Jan Alf of Forward Wisconsin.
In part because the huge convention will probably never be closer than Chicago, state officials managed to leveraged nearly three times that much from private companies and foundations.
UW-Madison alone has shelled out roughly $100,000 for its share of the 1,600-square-foot Wisconsin pavilion.
According to Charlie Hoslet, nearly all of that money came from private sources, including the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, University Research Park and other groups, including the real estate companty First Weber.
"This is a 10-fold increase over what the university spent last year for BIO 2005 in Philadelphia," Hoslet said. "I think our booth is eye-catching and will attract people to stop by and learn about our resources and expertise.
"We are here because we want to get on more comapnies' radar screens for everything from attracting investment to getting companies to set up shop in Wisconsin to licensing technology to getting our talented graduates jobs."
Wisconsin's academic and commercial biotech community plans to pull out the stops for BIO 2006, which will run next week in Chicago. The budget to showcase the Badger State's biotechnology prowess has risen to nearly $270,000 this year - nearly three times what was spent last year at BIO 2005 in Philadelphia.
"This is the perfect opportunity to tell our story and make connections," says Charlie Hoslet, managing director of the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations.
"It is never going to get any closer," he says. "This is the single largest and most important gathering of biotech and life science industries. All the players will be there."
The event is expected to attract nearly 20,000 people from around the nation and 60 countries. It also will draw numerous companies, major universities and international financiers looking to invest in start-up firms.