• WisBusiness

Friday, June 20, 2008

 12:08 PM 

Guest column: Breadth and depth of state's bioscience industry on full display

By Jim Leonhart

SAN DIEGO -- A notable carry-over from last year's BIO conference in Boston is a vigorous discussion about stem cell research leadership. In 2007, it was Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick who announced the creation of a $1-billion stem cell initiative. This year, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled his plan to invest $1.1-billion in that state's bioscience industry, with a strong emphasis on the growth of what he called the nation-leading Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in this year's conference keynote address touted his state's $3-billion stem cell program, created through passage of Proposition 71 in 2004.

Gov. Jim Doyle throughout BIO 2008 has hailed Wisconsin's selection as host for the World Stem Cell Summit in September and taken advantage of the platform BIO provides to reinforce the state's international leadership in stem cell research.

One of the most striking takeaways from this year's conference, though, is the remarkable breadth and depth of Wisconsin's bioscience industry. Everyone in the Wisconsin contingent is rightfully proud of the state's preeminence in stem cell research. As we continue to compete against the likes of California and prepare for the summit in Madison this fall, it is also important to remind ourselves of the broader industry in which Wisconsin's stem cell efforts occur.

A terrific example of our industry's breadth was on display yesterday at Wisconsin's BIO Theater. Dr. Juliette Schick, co-founder and chief executive of Madison's SciLog Inc., a developer and marketer of novel liquid-handling equipment, announced that her company recently signed a worldwide licensing agreement with global giant and hometown hero GE Healthcare.

The agreement gives GE Healthcare worldwide rights to make and sell automated single-use systems based on SciLog's technology for use in biopharmaceutical production. The technology's cost-effectiveness, performance and scalability could revolutionize the production of biotechnology products around the world.

Further proof of the breadth and depth of the industry in Wisconsin can be found in a Battelle study of state bioscience initiatives, employment and growth trends during 2001 to 2006. The study was released jointly Wednesday by BIO and Battelle, the world's largest non-profit independent research and development organization.

Madison, Wis., the report said, is the only U.S. metropolitan area in 2006 with a specialized job concentration in all of the four sub-sectors of the biosciences -- agricultural feedstock and chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and equipment, and research, testing and medical laboratories. "In the previous version of this report using 2004 data, Madison also achieved this distinction in broad by deep industry concentration," the report said.

It is a distinction we should always keep in mind.

-- Leonhart is executive director of the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.


 9:25 AM 

Report: Wisconsin ranks 22nd in tech and science index

Massachusetts, which just passed a $1-billion life sciences bill to invest in high-tech infrastructure and research and development over the next 10 years, is in the best position of any state to achieve high-quality economic growth thanks to its vast array of technology and science assets, a new Milken Institute study shows.

Massachusetts ranks first in the Milken Institute's 2008 State Technology and Science Index, followed by Maryland, Colorado and California. Wisconsin was in 22nd place.

According to the report, regional competition for technology industries has increased since the last release of the Index in 2004. Not only are states vying with each other for human capital and resources, but countries like China and India are increasing the competition on a global level.

See release


Thursday, June 19, 2008

 1:35 PM 

Marshfield Clinic database project targets genetics

By Mike Flaherty

SAN DIEGO -- One of the nation's most unique research tools developed through the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation drew a crowd of curious scienstists and biotech company representatives Wednesday on the floor of BIO, the annual gathering of the world's biotechology industry.

Marshfield Clinic has assembled the genetic makeup of 20,000 volunteers -- most of them from central Wisconsin -- to compile one of the world's largest human genetic data banks as part of its Personalized Medicine Research Project. The information in those data banks allows scientists to study how genetics and human diseases are related -- and then better target treatments.

Are people susceptible to arthritis genetically different that those who are not, for example? Are there also genetic differences among those who are susceptible? Should they be treated with different medicines?

Catherine McCarty, director of human genetics at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, told the BIO crowd that the two-year-old project may unveil new ways to treat a host of human diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to heart disease to diabetes.

"This is a powerful new tool that will allow researchers to find ways to help improve people's health,'' said McCarty, who, since coming to the Marshfield Clinic from Australia, has drawn more than $5 million in research grants to the clinic's Research Foundation.

Currently the Project is studying glaucoma, a common problem causing vision loss and even blindness among aging people.

The study isolated 250 people with glaucoma in the Project's database -- and found there are genetic links. Further, researchers that there are significant genetic differences among those who have glaucoma, many of whom could respond better, ironically, with a far cheaper drug.

McCarty cautioned that the glaucoma research so far is simply limited to identifying glaucoma-causing genes, not treatments.

"That (treatment) is the next step,'' she said. What's significant now, however, is that the data base is large enough that scientists can use their findings and extrapolate them to the entire population.

That means the findings Marshfield Clinic researchers achieve about about treating people with glaucoma differently will likely produce new recommendations for everyone with glaucoma.

"This will prove extremely important and have many uses,'' she said.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 7:06 PM 

Battelle notes gains in Wisconsin bio-industry

By Tom Still

SAN DIEGO -- Wisconsin's bioscience employment is growing faster than the U.S. average in three of four major categories, according to a report released Wednesday by BIO and Battelle, the world's largest non-profit independent research and development organization.

Wisconsin's job growth in agricultural feedstocks and chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and research, testing and medical laboratories all exceeded the U.S. average between 2001 and 2006, the Battelle study concluded. Only in medical devices and equipment did Wisconsin fail to grow at the U.S. average, but the state still ranked as a "specialized" state in that sector.

The Madison area in southern Wisconsin was the only one of 361 metropolitan areas charted by Battelle to be classified as "specialized" in all four sectors.

"You've got a lot of expertise in animal, plant and human life sciences, and you've got a growing foundation for translating that into commercial uses," said Walter Plosilla, senior adviser to Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice. "It's showing up in the figures."

Wisconsin charted five-year employment increases of 24.8 percent in the agricultural feedstock and chemicals sector, 11 percent in drugs and pharmaceuticals, and 20 percent in research, testing and medical laboratories. That compared to national figures of -6.1 percent, 4 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively. In medical devices, Wisconsin lost 3.7 percent of its employment but the nation as a whole fell by nearly 1 percent.

Average Wisconsin salaries in the four sectors studied by Battelle ranged from $53,715 in the ag tech sector to $75,012 in the pharma sector, which compared to a statewide private sector average of $36,462.

Among the 50 states, Wisconsin ranked 13th in academic research and development spending, 15th in bioscience R&D, 16th in National Institutes of Health funding, 11th in higher education degrees in bioscience fields, 19th in bioscience employment, 19th in bioscience venture capital investments and 18th in bioscience-related patents.

Plosilla noted that while Madison is "an oasis" nationally, Wisconsin is showing progress statewide in biosciences, particularly in the ag-tech and research sectors.

Gov. Jim Doyle, who is attending BIO 2008 in San Diego, welcomed the report but added Wisconsin must continue to improve its biotechnology economy.

"We have a long way to go. We really have to stay the course," Doyle said.

For more information, visit http://www.bio.org/local/battelle2008


 6:41 PM 

Doyle invites the 'Terminator' to Wisconsin summit

By Mike Flaherty

SAN DIEGO -- Gov. Jim Doyle issued an informal challenge to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger to come to Madison in September to attend the World Stem Cell Summit so he can see for himself the center of stem cell research.

Gov. Doyle, speaking to a crowd on the floor of BIO, dismissed Schwarzenneger's boast earlier in the day before more than 1,000 representatives of the biotechnology industry that California was the nation's leader in stem cell research.

"We should invite him to come to Wisconsin to see where the real center of of stem cell research is,'' he joked. "In fact I will invite him,'' Doyle joked after his speech. "I doubt he'll come, but we'll send him an invitation anyway.''

Doyle's invitation landed at the end of what he said was a day of "very substantive meetings'' with a number of major companies looking to invest in Wisconsin.

"I'm not free to talk about the details,'' the governor said. "But we have had a day of very, very serious meetings with some major companies.''

In several instances, Doyle said, a number of global companies are looking at partnerships with some of Wisconsin's innovative start-up companies created in the last few years to take newly invented biotech products from the laboratory to the marketplace. "Wisconsin has a lot of those. We're looking at a number of very nice opportunities.''

Commerce Secretary Jack Fischer said that by the time the three-day convention is over, he and the governor will have held up to two dozen "serious'' meetings. "You can't always measure where these talks are going to go, but they're real," Fisher said. "These companies are world class -- and they already know a lot about Wisconsin.''

At the same time, he cautioned, success can't truly be measured until deals actually happen.

"It's a competitive world out there,'' Fischer said.

Speaking on the convention floor, Doyle repeated his pledge that his goal as governor is to help guide Wisconsin to capture 10 percent of the nation's stem cell market by 2015.

"Wisconsin has the best and brightest researches and some of the most significant discoveries,'' he told a crowd that gathered at the Wisconsin pavilion. "We're going to build our economy by helping people improve their lives. Bioscience is the fastest growing field in our state economy right now."

Since last year's international biotechnology convention in Boston, Wisconsin had a very good year in its progress to become one of the nation's top states in biotechnology, Doyle said. he noted:

-- The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery was launched and construction begun on the $150 million research center that will combine two institutes -- one private and one belonging to UW-Madison -- in a collaborative scientific research effort that includes science ranging from nanotechnology to new human medicines.

-- The $135 million Great Lakes Bio Energy Center was awarded to UW-Madison, the first new federal laboratory in a century. The new center combines the efforts of researchers in five states to research and develop new ways to make fuel from plant matter.

-- Dr. Jamie Thomson, who isolated the first stem cells used for research from discarded fertilized eggs, discovered a way to develop similar stem cells by converting skin cells to cells that look and act like stem cells that can be used for research.

-- The number of biotechnology companies in Wisconsin topped 400, adding $8.6 billion to Wisconsin's economy as well as 34,000 jobs.

"We're going to continue to do this the Wisconsin way -- not by making claims we can't back up, but by doing ground breaking research and bringing it to the marketplace,'' Doyle promised.

Doyle was joined in his speech by Steven Burrill, a Wisconsin native whose Burrill & Co. in San Francisco is one of the nation's top biotechnology companies. Burrill was blunt -- and extremely positive about Wisconsin, where he still owns a home.

"We have a $1 billion in venture capital to invest in biotechnology companies, and we would put every dime of it in Wisconsin if the opportunities were there,'' Burrill said.

"Wisconsin's venture capital investment climate has improved dramatically, your entrepreneurial climate is strong, and you are the home of one of the intellectual centers of the world," Burrill said.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle is joined by, Wisconsin native, Steven Burrill of Burrill & Co. at the Wisconsin pavillion at the 2008 BIO International Convention.


 6:32 PM 

Guest column: Wisconsin at the forefront of infectious disease

By Jim Leonhart

Wisconsin's BIO Theater opened today with a number of fascinating presentations by some of the state's bioscience leaders. Two of the presentations -- one by InViragen and the other by FluGen -- spotlighted Wisconsin's leadership in infectious disease prevention and treatment. These two exciting companies are at the heart of an emerging infectious disease cluster in the Madison area.

InViragen, headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., announced earlier this year that will expand its presence in Madison with a 4,000-square-foot laboratory and office. The lab will be used for research and pre-clinical testing of the company's life-saving vaccines to protect against dangerous emerging diseases like the avian flu, dengue fever and the West Nile virus. InViragen's Wisconsin expansion will create up to 10 new positions.

During the company's presentation at the BIO Theater, Chief Executive Dan Stinchcomb highlighted InViragen's commitment to international collaboration. InViragen's work with partners around the world serves as an outstanding small-company model for attacking public health issues of global importance.

InViragen's presentation was followed by FluGen and its founder, president and chief executive, Paul Radspinner. After service at Deltanoid, WARF and Eli Lilly, Paul is leading efforts to commercialize technologies created by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a UW-Madison professor and one of the world's leading influenza experts, and Gabrielle Neumann, a virologist at UW-Madison. The company will collaborate with the new UW-Madison Influenza Research Institute, which is being led by Dr. Kawaoka.

Radspinner described his company's efforts to develop better influenza vaccines and create new influenza treatments. FluGen's unique, industry-leading efforts are aimed at both seasonal and pandemic influenza around the world.

(See more on FluGen in an earlier BIO blog post)

The work of InViragen and FluGen, when coupled with the infectious disease diagnostics being developed and marketed by Third Wave, EraGen, Prodesse and others, has created a substantial infectious disease footprint in the state that covers the entire spectrum of the discipline. Wisconsin's leadership in infectious disease prevention, detection and treatment received the spotlight at today's BIO Theater. The state's position as a world leader in infectious disease can only grow from here.

-- Leonhart is executive director of the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.


 6:00 PM 

Report: Early-stage investments grow in Wisconsin

By Tom Still

SAN DIEGO -- Private dollars invested in Wisconsin start-up companies operating in high-growth sectors such as biotechnology grew substantially in 2007, according to a report released Wednesday.

A survey conducted by NorthStar Economics and the Wisconsin Angel Network showed $146.9 million in early-stage investments in 2007, up from $102.9 million in 2006. That's a 43 percent increase in dollars invested by individual angel investors, angel networks, early-stage funds and others interested in Wisconsin start-up deals.

Venture capital investments in Wisconsin -- those later-stage investments made after early-stage companies begin to grow -- also increased in 2007 to $90 million from $73 million in 2006, the survey showed.

In addition to the early-stage and venture capital investments, Wisconsin also showed year-over-year gains in Initial Public Offerings (four offerings raised $343 million) and federal Small Business Innovation Research grants ($33.7 million).

Gov. Jim Doyle announced the survey results during the 2008 BIO international convention in San Diego, Calif., which is being attended by a Wisconsin delegation that includes representatives of many early-stage companies. Doyle spoke during the Wisconsin reception hosted by Quarles & Brady LLP.

Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature have worked together on initiatives to spur creation of so-called ''risk capital'' in Wisconsin, including investor tax credits and the formation of the Wisconsin Angel Network to help facilitate deal flow, investor exchanges and network creation.

Angel investors are high net-worth individuals who invest in start-up ventures, sometimes alone and sometimes as members of a group. More than 250 angels in 20 groups are affiliated with WAN, which is a public-private program of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Surveyed for the report were Wisconsin angel groups and funds, as well as eight major law firms that handle deals for individual angels and others. Other sources of data included state tax credit data, national venture capital reports and Tech Council data on SBIR grants.

''Wisconsin's early-stage capital market is growing at a rate that exceeds the U.S. average, which speaks to the tremendous strides being made by Wisconsin start-ups and those who help those companies grow,'' said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council and director of University Research Park in Madison.

Visit http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/uploads/2008WRCR.pdf to download a copy of the 17-page report, which includes additional figures on investments as well as a guide on how the risk capital markets work in Wisconsin and beyond.


 4:09 PM 

Wisconsin company at center of influenza BIO buzz

By Ryann Petit-Frere

SAN DIEGO -- One of the hottest topics at this year's BIO 08 is the threat posed world wide every year by influenza, including a new "bird flu" that could create a pandemic if no tools are found to fight it.

And one Wisconsin researcher is in the center of that discussion.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka, one of the world's leading influenza researchers, has sparked the creation of the Institute for Influenza Viral Research, a $9-million research facility in the University Research Park. And the head of one of the companies he helped create, FluGen, told conferees at BIO that the company is already producing new influenza vaccines.

Paul Radspinner, president and CEO of FluGen, said his company is also working to combat avian influenza, also known as bird flu. He said the company is drawing on the Kawaoka, as well as help from the state and UW-Madison, in its quest to battle the flu.

"We are able to bring together all the pieces Wisconsin has to offer," he said. "Wisconsin tax credits, the use of the Waisman BioManufacturing Facility and support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation have all helped us."

The threat of a major avian flu outbreak "is very real," warned world-renowned molecular biologist Adolfo Garcia-Sastre who was part of a panel of influenza researchers.

Scientists don't know when a mass "bird flu" outbreak will occur in humans, but they know it will, he said. What is needed are vaccines and biosafety practices to keep this threat subdued.

The "bird flu" is a virus that resides in the intestine of wild birds. While it has no effect on the wild species, it can kill chickens, turkeys and ducks. Though seldom, strains of the virus may jump from poultry to humans causing symptoms that can range from mild to severe, even to death.

Garcia-Sastre's vaccine for poultry interferes with the transmission of the disease from wild birds in the first place. His work is funded though a $23-million-per-year federal program as one of six Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance.

More information about Adolfo Garcia-Sastre can be found at http://www.mssm.edu/labs/garcia-sastre/.
More information about FluGen, Inc. and Yoshihiro Kawaoka can be found at http://flugen.com/.



 2:25 PM 

Institutes for Discovery aims to break down walls

By Mike Flaherty

SAN DIEGO -- John Morgridge, chairman of the board of Cisco Systems, and his wife Tashia, wanted to do something that put UW-Madison -- and Wisconsin -- "on the map'' of world scientific research.

That's exactly what they did. Their $50 million gift has now morphed into the new $150 Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, an architectually unique scientific research center designed exclusively to bring scientists together to collaborate on research, a Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery leader said Wednesday at BIO 2008.

"This is easily the most exciting thing to happen to the university in a generation,'' said Laura Heisler of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, who spoke to a crowd at the Wisconsin pavilion on the convention floor. What is most interesting, she said, is that the entire project is based on collaboration.

When competed, the Institutes will have research capacity for 250 to 300 scientists, who will be working collaboratively to solve complex problems relating to human biology and regenerative medicine.

But what will be immediately compelling to visitors to the new Institutes is that the building itself is one of the keys to that collaboration.

The first floor will be open, with a restaurant, coffee shop, gardens and flexible meeting space. The three floors above it will be research space for scientists working for the private Morgridge Institute for Research on one side -- and a public research institute on the other.

But even the research space is wide open, she said, with scientists having a clear view of the rest of their floor. "If we need to put walls up for privacy, we can do that,'' Heisler said. But the idea is a floor plan that allows maximum contact and collaboration with fellow scientists.

It may be controversial when people see how the building is laid out, Heisler said. But she added that the Morgridge family granted money to "put us on the map'' of scientific research -- and this building "breaks down barriers between researchers'' to help do that.

The first phase of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery is slated to open in the fall of 2010.


 2:21 PM 

Wisconsin Pavilion opens with live presentations

SAN DIEGO -- The Wisconsin pavilion at the 2008 BIO international convention opened with a burst of activity Wednesday as presentations began in the Wisconsin BioTheater, a small amphitheater built into the 80-foot-long pavilion. Presenters in the morning were EraGen Biosciences Inc. (Miguel Blanc, vice president of corporate development); Planet LLC (Thomas Crabb, president); and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Laura Heisler, program developer of the Morgridge Institute for Research at The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery).

Wisconsin's pavilion is located in a good neighborhood, by convention floor standards. Pennsylvania, Italy, North Carolina, Georgia and special exhibits on therapeutic drug discoveries are within a stone's throw. Most popular giveaway items in the Wisconsin exhibit? Bucky Badger lapel pins and chocolate chip cookies.

Wisconsin Pavilion visitor sports Bucky Badger lapel pin at BIO 2008.


 2:02 PM 

Hessen-Wisconsin relations renewed on cruise

SAN DIEGO -- About 40 members of Wisconsin's delegation to the 2008 BIO international convention joined their counterparts from the German state of Hessen Wednesday morning on a breakfast cruise of San Diego Harbor, which is home to a giant U.S. Navy base as well as commercial shipping ports.

The cruise, sponsored by Wisconsin's sister state of Hessen, has become an annual networking event at BIO for members of both delegations. Frankfurt is located in Hessen, as well as some of Germany's largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Martin Herkstroter, chief executive officer of HA Hessen Agentur GmbH, spoke to the Wisconsin crowd. The Wisconsin delegation was led by Commerce Secretary Jack Fischer.

"Wisconsin's position in the global economy and our long-term relationship with Hessen make these kinds of exchanges extremely valuable," Fischer said.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

 6:00 PM 

Doyle says states can share stem-cell momentum

By Tom Still

SAN DIEGO -- On a day when the governor of Maryland proposed a $1.1 billion biotechnology initiative and the governor of Massachusetts signed a similar $1 billion bill into law, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said there's plenty of room for major research states to work collaboratively on breakthroughs involving stem cells.

"This is not a case of one state is going to win and another state is going to lose, or that one state is going to beat all the other states," Doyle said during a news conference at the BIO international convention in San Diego.

Rather, Doyle explained, the collaborative and often interdiscilpinary nature of research means scientists from across the country and around the world are often working on common problems, and advances in one laboratory may help propel breakthroughs elsewhere.

Doyle said Wisconsin's investment in the biosciences is "on a par" with what's happening in other leading states, especially when it comes to providing the basic tools researchers need. He referenced the $150-million first phase of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and other UW-Madison initiatives such as a new interdisciplinary research center tied to the UW Medical School.

"It's on the same scale with Massachusetts and California -- only we didn't need a referendum to get it done," Doyle said.

Doyle spoke during a news conference also attended by Bernie Siegel, director of the Genetics Policy Institute and the founder of the World Stem Cell Summit. This year's summit will be held in Madison Sept. 22-23 and will feature some of the world's leading researchers, including Wisconsin's Dr. James Thomson.

"I was cold when I visited (Madison last winter), but what I saw burning brightly was your research community," Siegel said. The conference is expected to attract up to 1,000 stem-cell experts from across the world to Madison, which is also home to the WiCell Institute and the National Stem Cell Bank.

Danny Heumann, a member of the Genetics Policy Institute board of directors, praised Wisconsin for taking the lead in stem-cell research. Heumann was partially disabled in an automobile accident 23 years ago, and has become an advocate for stem-cell research that may lead to therapies for spinal cord injuries and other traumatic injuries.

Doyle also predicted that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will lift President Bush's August 2001 ban on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell lines not produced before that date.

"I see no reason why Barack Obama should abide by restrictions (on use of stem-cell lines) that are tied to an artificial date when President Bush wanted to make a speech," Doyle said.

Doyle did not speculate on what Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, might do about federal funding for stem-cell research. However, some of McCain's votes and statements indicate he would also loosen current restrictions.

Bernie Siegel, founder and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, speaks at the 2008 BIO International Convention as Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle looks on.



 4:24 PM 

Guest column: Wisconsin's off to a great start

By Jim Leonhart

The ribbon has yet to be cut at the Wisconsin pavilion (a brief ceremony will officially open the pavilion at 3 p.m. local time Tuesday), but already leaders of the state's bioscience industry have had two productive partnering meetings.

The first meeting was hosted yesterday by Pfizer and included Gov. Jim Doyle, Commerce Secretary Jack Fischer, and other public and private sector leaders. It was a fascinating meeting, during which Pfizer reaffirmed its commitment to partnering with companies in Wisconsin.

Pfizer executives told us that there is a new paradigm in today's pharma world. They said their research and development focus has become much more externally focused, with less emphasis on internal R&D and more importance being placed on collaborations and partnerships. I was struck by their commitment to finding the great ideas that are being developed by small companies, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. They know that they must become more active and engaged in state bioscience industries as a means to finding those great ideas.

I was very pleased with our meeting with Pfizer. It was a terrific follow-up to the partnering meetings the company held with our help in Madison in mid-December. The meeting also was a great prelude to the WBMA's annual conference in October, which will facilitate meetings between our member companies and large pharma, biotech and medical device companies like Pfizer.

We also had a very productive meeting with officials from the provincial government of Manitoba, Canada. Our new friends from the north had sought out leaders of Wisconsin's bioscience industry because they have seen the news of Wisconsin's many tech transfer and commercialization successes. They are interested in learning more about our unique tech transfer system that includes WARF, University Research Park and other important players. The Manitoban officials also are very impressed by Wisconsin's emphasis on creating good-paying jobs through both public and private research. A follow-up meeting in Madison is planned for later this year.

-- Leonhart is executive director of the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.


 2:46 PM 

Thrive brings Madison region to BIO

Thrive, the economic development enterprise for the eight-county Madison region, has partnered with the cities of Middleton, Madison and Fitchburg to host a display in the Wisconsin Pavilion at the BIO International Convention.

This year, Thrive, Fitchburg, Madison and Middleton join 55 businesses and organizations in the pavilion to showcase the bioscience industry in the Madison region. Wisconsin's 378 biotech firms contribute over $8 billion to the state's economy and account for more than 30,000 jobs in Wisconsin, with over 150 companies in the Madison region alone.

Read the Thrive press release for details


Monday, June 16, 2008

 9:34 AM 

Wisconsin attends BIO with success stories in tow

By Tom Still

MADISON -- A state that has experienced historic floods and the announcement of a major plant closing within the past two weeks could use some good news. Perhaps it's found in the steady growth of Wisconsin's biotechnology industry.

When the Wisconsin delegation shows up on the floor of the San Diego Convention Center for this week's BIO international convention, it will have fresh success stories to swap with the 20,000 or so attendees. Since the last BIO convention in Boston in May 2007, Wisconsin has chalked up the following:

-- Madison-based TomoTherapy Inc. opened trading on the Nasdaq National Market with an initial public offering of shares that generated $185 million in net proceeds.

-- Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche acquired NimbleGen, a Madison-based firm, for $272.5 million. NimbleGen's employees appear to be staying put in Wisconsin.

-- The U.S. Department of Energy announced it would locate a $135-million federal laboratory on the University of Wisconsin campus to study cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. It is one of only three such DOE labs in the nation, and Wisconsin's first new federal lab in generations.

-- The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation began to fend off legal challenges to its key patents for human embryonic stem cell breakthroughs. WARF's initial success cooled initial fears in some quarters that its patents would be overturned.

-- Construction of Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery began at UW-Madison. This $150-million interdisciplinary research center will be the first of its kind in the Midwest, and a draw for researchers worldwide.

-- Organizers of the World Stem Cell Summit announced they would hold their 2008 meeting in Madison, a sign of Wisconsin's prominence in stem-cell research.

The latest announcement came a week ago: Hologic Inc., a Massachusetts medical technologies firm that specializes in products for women's health, agreed to buy Madison-based Third Wave Technologies for $580 million. Hologic plans to keep Third Wave's manufacturing and R&D operations in Madison, where the company has 143 full-time employees.

Quietly but impressively, each passing year has brought stronger Wisconsin ties to major biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Some other examples:

-- GE Healthcare has about 7,000 employees in Wisconsin. A five-year master agreement between GE and the University of Wisconsin yielded about 50 project statements; a second five-year agreement for research and intellectual property is under way.
-- Sigma-Aldrich has plants in three locations for production of more than 3,500 organic compounds, pharmaceutical products, vaccines, sera and more.
-- Genzyme Corp. acquired a Madison-area company in 2005 and maintains a research facility there.
-- EMD BioScience and EMD Crop BioSciences operate major facilities in Madison and Milwaukee, respectively.
-- Monsanto has six facilities in Wisconsin, including a 100,000-square-foot research facility (formerly Agracetus) near Madison.
-- Covance employs about 1,900 people in Madison, where its campus serves 25 pharma and biotech companies worldwide.
-- Representatives of Pfizer met with about 20 Wisconsin companies in late 2007. Conversations with selected companies are continuing as Pfizer explores for new technologies.
-- Abbott Labs has purchased more than 400 acres of land in southeast Wisconsin, within about 45 minutes of an existing facility in northern Illinois.

While there will be 48 states and even more nations in San Diego, all claiming to be biotech hubs, a relative few have what it takes to succeed in one of the global economy’s most competitive arenas. Wisconsin is among that group. Only a few years ago, the big boys and girls of the life sciences world could afford to look past Wisconsin as just another flyover state. Today, they're spotting ample opportunities on the ground.

When bad news strikes, it's usually immediate and dramatic. Good news sometimes takes its sweet time to accumulate. That's the case with Wisconsin's biotech industry.

Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

 7:31 PM 

The Wisconsin "BioTheater" Returns for 2nd Year

The Wisconsin "BioTheater" returns this year with a line up of 16 presenters representing some of Wisconsin's top biotech companies and organizations.

Company presentations will take place over the course of two days, with a pavilion appearance by Governor Doyle and special guest Steven Burrill.

Presentations are scheduled as followed. Check back to the Wisconsin BIOBlog as we cover these and other presentations throughout the conference.

Wednesday, June 18
10:30 a.m.
EraGen Biosciences, Inc., Miguel Blanc, VP of
Corporate Development, EraGen Biosciences:
Driving a New Era of Molecular Diagnostics
11:00 a.m. Planet LLC, Thomas Crabb, President and
Dr. Robert Morrow, Senior Scientist
Optimized Environments for Biomanufacturing
11:30 a.m. Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Laura
Heisler, Program Developer of Morgridge Institute
for Research, The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery:
Creating an Environment to Bridge Gaps Between
2:00 p.m. InViragen, Inc., Dr. Dan T. Stinchcomb, CEO
Worldwide Vaccines for Emerging Infectious Diseases
2:30 p.m. FluGen, Inc., Paul V. Radspinner, President & CEO
FluGen: Transforming Influenza Prevention &
3:00 p.m. Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences, Catherine A.
McCarty, Ph.D., MPH, Senior Epidemiologist and
Interim Director, Marshfield Clinic's Personalized
Medicine Research Project
3:30 p.m. CDI Bioscience, Thomas Primiano, Ph.D., President
& CEO, PACE Cell Technology
4:00 p.m. Governor Jim Doyle with special guest Steven Burrill

Thursday, June 19
10:30 a.m. SciLog, Inc., Juliette Schick, Ph.D., President
Single-Use Sensors in Bioprocessing
11:00 a.m. Invivosciences LLC, Ms. Ayla Annac, President/CEO,
Co-Founder, Engineered Tissue Based High-Content
Analysis System: Bridging the Gap in Discovery
Between Animal Studies & Cell Based Assays
11:30 a.m. Covance Inc., Philip Teitelbaum, Ph.D., Director of
Program Management Services, Considerations
in the Preclinical Safety Evaluation of New Drug
2:00 p.m. Neoclone, Deven McGlenn, CEO
Monoclonal Antibodies and Biomarkers
2:30 p.m. Cell Line Genetics, LLC, Rob Herrera, Chief
Business Officer, Stem Cell Research Quality
Assurance: Essential, not Optional
3:00 p.m. High Throughput Genomics, Inc. (HTG, Inc.),
Jonathan M. Sheridan, VP of Commercial Operations,
HTG Inc. Tools for Genomics-Driven Discovery
3:30 p.m. Centrose LLC, Dr. James Prudent, CEO
Sweeter Pathways to New Medicines
4:00 p.m. WiCell Research Institute, Erik Forsberg, Executive
Director, Wisconsin's Role in the Future of Cell-
Based Medicine



 1:17 PM 

BIO San Diego: 2001 to 2008

The BIO International Convention is the global event for biotechnology. The event supports the world's largest biotechnology organization, the Biotechnology Industry Organization. This year the conference returns home to its organizer's headquarters in San Diego, June 17-20.

Seven years has passed since the BIO Convention was held in San Diego. Since then, the event's size, attendance and many other aspects have grown tremendously. This comparison exemplifies the event's growth since 2001.

Total Attendance
14,700 in 2001 vs. more than 20,000 projected for 2008
States Represented
10 in 2001 vs. 48 projected for 2008
Countries Represented
49 in 2001 vs. 70 projected for 2008
Exhibiting Companies
890 in 2001 vs. more than 2,200 projected for 2008



 12:00 PM 

Live from San Diego: Wisconsin 'Bio Blog' will track events at 2008 BIO convention

Follow the activities of Wisconsin's delegation at the 2008 BIO convention in San Diego by reading the "Wisconsin BIO Blog" beginning Monday, June 16. The June 17-20 BIO meeting will attract more than 20,000 people from around the world.

Offered through WisBusiness.com, the blog will include news stories, columns, interviews and video coverage related to Wisconsin's role in the annual convention. Some 120 people from Wisconsin are expected to attend. The blog will also include background information from the Wisconsin Technology Council on the state's growing biotech and medical devices industries.

Go to http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/ or http://blogs.wisbusiness.com/bio/ to read about what's happening on the convention floor.

The blog will also include video interviews of a few presenters participating in Wisconsin's "BioTheater," which is part of the Wisconsin Pavilion at the San Diego Convention Center.

This year's Wisconsin BioTheater presenters include EraGen Biosciences Inc.; Planet LLC; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; InViragen Inc.; FluGen Inc.; Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences; CDI Bioscience; SciLog Inc.; Invivosciences LLC; Covance Inc.; NeoClone; High Throughput Genomics Inc.; Centrose LLC; and WiCell Research Institute. Also, look for video of Gov. Jim Doyle's appearance with life sciences investor Steve Burrill.

Contributors to the blog will be Tom Still and Ryann Petit-Frere of the Tech Council and Michael Flaherty of Flaherty and Associates, a Madison-based public relations firm.

The Tech Council is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and tech policy advisers to the governor and the Legislature.




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