• WisBusiness

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

 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.

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