• WisBusiness

Thursday, May 21, 2009

 5:48 PM 

Companies preview biofuels innovation

By Mike Flaherty

ATLANTA - Agriculture was a constant theme throughout BIO 2009.

- A report released Wednesday at the conference by UK-based PG Economics shows that a record 13.3 million farmers in 25 countries are using agricultural biotechnology to reduce fuel use and decrease the use of pesticides.

"As we continue to see the global adaption of biotech crops, we are also seeing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics and a co-author of its "Global Impact Study."

The use of biocrops and biotechnologies to reduce fuel use and the need for pesticide was the equivalent of removing 14.2 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or removing 6.3 million cars from the road for a year, the report said.

Pesticide use has dropped 17.2 percent, helped increase farm income by adding 4.4 percent to the value of the production of soybeans, corn, canola and cotton in 2007, the report said.

- A number of companies announced plans to begin building "green energy" fuel plants.

Gevo, Inc., based in Denver, is producing a new "biofuel" that can convert wood and plant matter, or cellulose, in a hydrocarbon fuel chemically similar to gasoline. It announced the construction of a 1 million gallon demonstration plant this year in Colorado.

"This is not hypothetical gasoline, this is gasoline. It is a hydrocarbon that can be used to make gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel and even plastics," said Patrick Gruber, a scientist and sales representative for Gevo.

DuPont Danisco Cellulosic vice president Jack Hutter said it is building a demonstration plant in Tennessee to convert switchgrass and corn cobs into a ethanol, a technology that "is already here" and can compete with gasoline prices at about $80 per barrel.

British Petroleum scientists unveiled its plans to grow sugar in Florida and directly ferment it to produce ethanol fuel – a system that is more efficient than using corn because the starch in corn first has to be converted to a sugar before it can be fermented. BP is building a 36 million demonstration plant in Florida to show the system is sustainable and cost effective, they said, noting that Brazil already has a highly developed ethanol industry fueled by sugar crops.

"We have a whole range of technologies in this field, many of which have promise,'' Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO who specializes in sustainability. "There won't be any one solution.'' He noted that scientists in the biotech industry are also looking at ways to convert algae to ethanol fuel.

Chevron and Weyerhauser are combining forces to produce fuel crops in between the trees being grown for lumber and paper. Energy crops can also be planted on degraded or unused pasture land as well, bringing new uses for the land and new income for poor farmers.

"Every country and every region will likely have a different model,'' Erickson said.

A study released by BIO International showed that advanced biofuel production could generate 29,000 new jobs and create $5.5 billion in economic growth over th enext three years as companies continue to develop new ways to convert plant matter to liquid fuel or other forms of usable energy.

The report, called U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced BioFuels Production: Perspectives to 2030, analyzes how the growth of an advanced biofuels industry will impact jobs, economic growth, energy security and investment opportunity. Total jobs produced (which includes the associated jobs related to the growth of the sector) could be as much as 807,000 by 2022 with total economic output that year of as much as $37 billion.

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 5:37 PM 

Biofuels expertise on display in Atlanta

By Mike Flaherty

ATLANTA - In addition to nearly one dozen sessions devoted to energy, food and sustainability, more than 50 bio-energy companies, ranging from those with new ways of producing ethanol alcohol to bio-engineered crops that can produce more energy per crop acre, lined the floor of the massive Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the host of this year's BIO International convention. On top of that, many of the 48 states and 60 nations represented here came armed with their latest work in biofuels.

Almost every company leader acknowledged the size of the challenge: Even replacing 10 percent of the 84 million barrels of petroleum the world uses each day will require up to 100 million acres of land that must be planted, harvested and processed into fuel. And the system must also be created in a way that protects the enviroments and maintains the world's ability to feed itself.

Seventeen countries have committed large portions of cropland, estimated at about 40 million acres, to energy crops, including the United States which last year converted about a third of its corn crop to ethanol. But BIO 2009 shows that new ideas in biofuels and "green gasoline'' are cropping up everywhere:

- Oklahoma says it's a leader in producing new varieties of switchgrass, already know as a plant that produces the most tons of plant matter per acre.
- Georgia is exploring poplar trees and bamboo, which also produce high tonnages of plant matter per acre.
- The Department of Energy is here explaining its work with 18 universities in 15 states on a genome project to help develop trees and plants with cells that are easier to break down into starches and sugars that can be made into ethanol alcohol or other types of fuel.
- The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratories are here showing the work that they're doing with their $125 million federal Department of Energy grant. The same grant was received by UW-Madison to form a federal laboratory to develop fuel from cellulose, or leafy plant matter and wood.
- Florida, Hawaii and Australia are following Brazil's lead in growing new strains of sugar cane, which can be processed much more easily into ethanol alcohol. (Corn, which contains starch, must be fermented and converted into sugar first.)
- Maine is here touting its expertise in forestry, including research projects to extrace fermentable sugars from the pulp waste created in paper making.
- South Carolina and its Savanah River National Laboratory are showing off their newest research and developments in producing and storing hydrogen fuel.
- Mexico is boasting its warm climate as a place to grow and develop biofuels, as well as "green gasoline.''

"It all demonstrates the importance of Wisconsin telling its story in a more effective way," said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. "While we might have the right technologies in our labs and companies, they need to make sure the rest of the world knows about them."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

 9:59 AM 

World Stem Cell Summit moves to Baltimore for '09

ATLANTA - Organizers of the World Stem Cell Summit, which was held in Madison in 2008, will move their rotating, annual conference to Baltimore, Md., in September 2009. Among the panel discussions will be a session featuring governors from states with strong stem-cell research communities, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

To learn more about the Sept. 21-23 summit, visit http://www.worldstemcellsummit.com/

- Tom Still

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 9:37 AM 

Madison's BioAg Gateway plants seeds in Atlanta

ATLANTA - With more than 1,800 exhibitors displaying everything from the latest biotech manufacturing equipment to ideas for biofuel production, Michael Gay of Madison is promoting something else: An agricultural biotechnology business park.

The BioAg Gateway, a new business park proposed on Madison's southeast corner, will include up to 200 acres of buildings devoted to the research and development of agricultural products, new crop uses, and new ways to produce "green'' fuel for the nation's energy-hungry economy. Another 300 acres surrounding the business park that could be used to grow - and experiment with - new crops.

"I've met with a number of pharmaceutical and food companies that have expressed interest,'' said Gay, managing director of the BioAg Gateway and a business development specialist for the city.

Some examples of what the incubator could produce are in the fields of bio-plastics, or non-petroleum-based plastics, biofuels and biopharmaceuticals, which in the past have produced such products as the cervical cancer vaccine from corn and cancer treatments from lettuce.

The Madison City Council recently approved applying for a $3.5 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to help advance the project, which would begin with a 31,000-square-foot business incubator for scientists with new ideas for the nation's agricultural food, fiber and fuel production. That includes about 6,000 square feet of laboratory space, 6,000 square feet for controlled greenhouses and 19,000 square feet that could be tailored to companies that want the space.

The federal grant requires a 25 percent local match, which would amount to about $1.2 million in new city investment in the incubator, plus the cost of transferring the land to Madison Development Corporation, a non-profit that has signed on as a partner with the city according to EDA requirements.

Gay is a part of the Wisconsin pavilion at BIO, and is using his time to contact potential partners from across the United States, Europe and Asia.

- Mike Flaherty

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 9:25 AM 

Maybe Leinenkugels ran Bachhubers out of business

ATLANTA -- It turns out that Gov. Jim Doyle's family as well as the family of Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel were both among Wisconsin's original "biotechnology" companies. But Doyle's ancestors didn't fare so well back in the 1800s.

Leinenkugel introduced Doyle to a crowd Tuesday on the floor of Atlanta's BIO 2009, the world's largest biotechnology conference. First, however, Leinenkugel reminded the audience that he is the great, great, great grandson of one of Wisconsin's first companies "to take a one-cell organism and turn it into a commercial product: Beer." It wasn't Jacob Leinenkugel who started his now-famous brewery in Chippewa Falls, but Jacob's father Mathias, who started the first Leinkeugel's in Sauk City on the banks of the Wisconsin River.

Not everyone was pleased with the secretary's introduction.

"I hate it when he tells that story,'' Doyle said jokingly. "It turn out that my great, great, great grandparents (named Bachhuber) started a brewery in Mayville.'' But unlike the Leinenkugels, Doyle admitted, his family's brewery didn't last all that long. The reasons are lost to history, he continued, but it may have been simply that the beer wasn't any good.

- Mike Flaherty

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 7:06 AM 

Marshfield research leads genomics initiative

By Mike Flaherty

One of the most far-reaching innovations in medicine is unfolding in central Wisconsin where the Marshfield Clinic is entering the second phase of its nationally recognized Wisconsin Genome Initiative.

It's an initiative that is drawing a lot of interest in Atlanta this week at BIO 2009, the world's largest gathering of the international biotechnology community. This year the conference has drawn more than 12,000 scientists, vendors, company executives and investors.

"We've been involved in a lot of meetings so far. It's been very productive," said Catherine McCarty, a senior research scientist and interim director of the Center for Human Genetics at the Marshfield Clinic.

The project has enormous, far-reaching potential to improve diagnoses of diseases and determine the most cost-effective treatments for individual patients, she said, noting that the "personalized medicine project" is now a collaboration of UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed $2 million for the project to help it implement the next phase of its project -- a system to help process and sort enormous volumes of complex medical records and data. The center has also applied for an "enormous" federal grant to help speed the project along as well, McCarty said.

The Genome Initiative is based on 20,000 patient records that have been collected by the Marshfield Clinic from volunteers. By looking at the medical records of these patients and comparing them to their genetic makeup, the clinic is looking for correlations. Once fully implemented, doctors will be able to analyze patients' DNA to look for genetic predisposition to certain diseases -- and to determine more precise and cost-effective treatments.

"With our database of 20,000 people, we can research almost anything, so we're in the process of prioritizing," she said, noting that the focus will largely be on the diseases that pose the greatest risk to public health such as heart disease, cancer and glaucoma.

Among the project's discoveries already includes a gene that helps predict glaucoma -- and determines cases of glaucoma that can be treated by a "pennies-a-day" drug versus a drug that is "eight times more expensive," she says. If that sort of experience can be expanded to many other diseases, treatments can be much more effective and can help make health care more affordable, McCarty said.

The clinic has also discovered genetic correlations that can help more precisely target dosages of the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen -- and another genetic market that will help better target the use of the blood thinner warfarin.

"We'll know soon whether we've won these grants," she said. "It's a very exciting time."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

 4:57 PM 

Investors from 14 states will visit Madison for '09 MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum

ATLANTA - The MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum, one of the nation's largest regional platforms to showcase healthcare start-ups and emerging growth companies, will attract more than 200 private equity investors to Madison in November.

Gov. Jim Doyle announced Wisconsin's selection for the Nov. 10-12 forum during the 2009 BIO convention in Atlanta, where a delegation from the state is taking part in the world's largest biotech convention.

The MidAmerica Healthcare Investors Network, which produces the forum in cooperation with International Business Forum in New York, is an association of 48 venture capital firms from 14 states. Those firms collectively have about $2 billion in assets under management.

"There has never been a more important time to attract a conference of this stature to Wisconsin," said Doyle, who noted that many life sciences companies in Wisconsin are poised to attract venture capital. "This is a chance to bring the right investors to the right place at the right time."

MHIN focuses on life sciences investment opportunities in the region. Those opportunities include biotechnology, medical devices, bioinformatics, healthcare information technology and healthcare services. Key MHIN members in Wisconsin include Venture Investors LLC and Baird Venture Partners. The Wisconsin Technology Council and Forward Wisconsin have taken the lead in working with forum organizers.

The forum unites venture capitalists, private equity firms, corporate investors and investment bankers from around the region - and nationally - to explore investment opportunities. Past forums have attracted C-level executives from biotechnology, medical device and industrial biotechnology companies; business development executives; tech transfer officers and companies.

This year's forum will begin on the evening of Nov. 10 with a joint reception during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium at Madison's Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. The forum will feature leading-edge industry topics and highlight more than 40 privately held companies that are seeking their next round of capital. Companies from across the region will be selected.

"In the life sciences sector, the recession in the financial sector has affected venture capital in a much deeper way than it has angel investment," said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. "Angel investing in Wisconsin is holding up well. However, Wisconsin needs to attract more venture capital, and this event can help do so by informing investors about the state’s life sciences community."

"There could not be a more opportune time to bring the event to Madison," said John Neis, managing partner of Venture Investors LLC. "As everyone knows, we are in a very difficult climate for raising capital. As our entrepreneurial community has grown, the financing requirements of the companies have grown correspondingly. By holding this event in Madison, we have an opportunity to showcase our state's companies at a time they may need it most."

The forum will overlap the annual Early Stage Symposium, which will be held Nov. 10-11 at Madison's Monona Terrace. The Early Stage Symposium also offers opportunities for Wisconsin companies to present to investors.

A host committee will be announced soon. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Tom Still at 608-442-7557 ext. 24 or tstill@wisconsintechnologycouncil.com To submit a proposal to present or exhibit, or to take advantage of "early bird" registration fees, contact Carissa Stavrakos at 516-765-9005 or Carissa@ibfconferences.com

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 4:42 PM 

Massachusetts governor pops by for Doyle speech

ATLANTA - There was a surprise visitor to Gov. Jim Doyle's Tuesday welcoming speech to the Wisconsin delegation at BIO, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Doyle was about halfway through his remarks at the Wisconsin pavilion on the convention floor when he picked out Patrick's face in the crowd. He then joked his Massachusetts counterpart could "learn a thing or two from us" about biotech policy.

Well, maybe. Massachusetts is among the leading biotech states in the country, and one of the top two states in venture capital investments. But Patrick has admired Wisconsin's technology transfer system, and mentioned Wisconsin as a biotech model in a 2007 op-ed column in the Boston Globe. Doyle and Patrick have been among a relative handful of governors advising President Obama on the federal stimulus.

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 4:37 PM 

Angel network investments rose 28 percent in '08

By Tom Still

ATLANTA- Bucking national trends, Wisconsin angel networks and funds posted a 28 percent increase in early stage investments in 2008, reaching more than $15 million invested in 53 deals. Recently released data showed that angel investing was down 26 percent nationally for the same year compared to 2007.

A steady rise in Wisconsin angel network investing accelerated in 2005 with the passage of the state's investor tax credits law and the creation of the Wisconsin Angel Network. In 2002, the first year private angel investing was tracked in Wisconsin, there were 11 deals totaling $1.6 million. In 2007, Wisconsin charted $11.7 million in 42 angel network deals.

While Wisconsin's overall early stage investment market has followed the national trend, down 33 percent to $98 million in 2008, the increase in angel network and fund investing demonstrates the success of Wisconsin's focus on building and retaining angel networks and funds.

Venture capital investments in Wisconsin - those later-stage investments made after early stage companies begin to grow - declined by 32 percent to $76 million in 2008, again following the national trend of decreased venture investments.

"Wisconsin's angel networks and funds are finding good deals in Wisconsin, despite the economic downturn," Gov. Jim Doyle said in announcing the survey results by WAN, which is managed by the Wisconsin Technology Council. "Wisconsin has a nationally admired strategy for building angel capital, and the state must now move to the next stage so good angel-backed companies can attract follow-on rounds of funding. This is why I've included in my budget funding for the Wisconsin Venture Fund, which will increase venture financing in Wisconsin."

Doyle announced the survey results during the 2009 BIO international convention in Atlanta, Ga., which is being attended by a Wisconsin delegation that includes representatives of many early stage companies.

Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature have worked together on initiatives to spur creation of so-called "risk capital" in Wisconsin, including investor tax credits, the formation of the WAN and the proposed Wisconsin Venture Fund to help facilitate deal flow, investor exchanges and network creation. Doyle and the Legislature expanded the investor tax credit law in February as part of an economic stimulus bill.

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 28 groups are affiliated with WAN, which is a public-private program of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

"Wisconsin's angel networks and funds are the backbone for our early stage market, dramatically increasing funding levels at a time when the entrepreneurial economy needs it the most," said Joe Kremer, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network.

Surveyed for the report were Wisconsin angel groups and funds, as well as major law firms that handle deals for individual angels and others.

"Wisconsin's angel network and funds have become an important foundation for of our early stage market, providing more investment capital when other sectors of the early stage investment market are decreasing funding levels," said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council and director of University Research Park in Madison.

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 2:07 PM 

Doyle joins Wisconsin delegation at BIO 2009

ATLANTA - Gov. Jim Doyle is among eight governors attending the BIO 2009 convention, where he is meeting with industry representatives and others. He arrived about 1 p.m. Tuesday and will greet the Wisconsin delegation at 4 p.m.

Other governors in attendance are Sonny Perdue of Georgia, who was honored Tuesday as BIO's ''Governor of the Year,'' Steve Beshear of Kentucky, Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Beverly Perdue of North Carolina and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel is also at the convention and is joining Doyle and others in meetings to promote Wisconsin as a place to do business.

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 1:07 PM 

Elton John exhorts BIO convention on AIDS policy

ATLANTA - Sir Elton John, the British singer, musician and song-writer whose work has entertained millions, spoke Tuesday at the world's largest biotechnology convention about his latest passion: combating AIDS through science, public education and political action.

John launched the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 to fund direct patient care services and to promote AIDS education. It has raised about $150 million over time and worked in 55 countries.

He told a luncheon of about 4,000 scientists and industry representatives that AIDS claimed about 60 of his friends, especially when the disease emerged in the 1980s. Because his own lifestyle was unhealthy at the time, John acknowledged, he didn't step forward.

"During the 1980s, I should have been on the front lines. I should have been doing much more. I did not, and I am ashamed," John said. He urged more aggressive public health policies to combat the disease, including distribution of free needles to intravenous drug users.

John's foundation is focused on reaching some of the estimated 33 million people worldwide who are HIV positive and/or living with AIDS. About 2 million people die from AIDS each year. There is no cure today, but researchers are working to bring new therapies and diagnostics to the fight against the disease.

In 2008, 391 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus were reported in Wisconsin. Over the past 11 years, that rate of new infections has remained fairly steady. The peak year for AIDS deaths in Wisconsin was 1993 (373), compared to 67 known deaths in 2007. Wisconsin's AIDS mortality rate is 10th lowest among the states.

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 10:39 AM 

Wisconsin fares well in Battelle science ed report

By Ryann E. Petit-Frere

ATLANTA - Battelle, a non-profit research organization that focuses on life sciences, released a report analyzing how well the country's states are performing in science education at the BIO International Convention this week. The report's message was clear: All states can do better.

While Wisconsin showed several bright spots in the report titled Taking the Pulse of Bioscience Education in America: A State by State Analysis, there were a few dim spots as well.

Wisconsin ranked in the top 10 for student rankings in areas of ACT and SAT testing and the percentage of certified science and biology teachers (1st for each) and high school graduation rates.

Areas for improvement were identified in student reading averages (Wisconsin ranked 24th) and testing on AP English exams (35th).

More about the report and individual state rankings can be found at the BIO International Convention website: http://www.bio.org/local/battelle2009/main.asp

The Battelle report comes shortly after the release of a more state specific report from the Wisconsin Technology Council, Educating a Tech-Savvy Workforce in Wisconsin. The Tech Council report focuses on the state's need to replenish the pipeline of highly skilled workers in order to be a strong competitor in the 21st century knowledge economy and provides recommendations on how to best move in that direction.

More about the Tech Council report can be found online at http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

 3:52 PM 

Smaller Wisconsin delegation at BIO 2009 event

ATLANTA - Wisconsin has a significantly smaller contingent at this year's BIO conference, but it's not the only state feeling the effects of the recession.

"It's an international trend," said Mickey Judkins, who is coordinating the state effort for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. "Companies and even countries are cutting back and sending fewer people."

Last year, when the annual gathering of global biotech companies, researchers and leaders was held in San Diego, 54 Badger State companies and institutions attended. For 2009, that figure has fallen to 31.

Judkins said state spending is also down, dropping from more than $200,000 last year to an estimated $180,000 this year.

"In these difficult economic times, we've found some efficiencies, but we still think it's important that Wisconsin have a major presence there because biotech is vital to this state," she said.

Read more about Wisconsin's BIO presence in a new WisBusiness story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=158884

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 10:34 AM 

Wisconsin links with other states, nations at BIO

By Ryann Petit-Frere

ATLANTA - Members of the Wisconsin delegation pressed the flesh with representatives from Minnesota; Manitoba, Canada; and Queensland, Australia on the eve of the 2009 BIO International Convention in Atlanta last night.

Members from the four contingents discussed mutual interests, joint strengths and explored opportunities for partnership and collaboration. With complimentary stakes in the industry, biofuels was a strong area of discussion between the delegation members, as Minnesota, Manitoba, Queensland and Wisconsin each are well-positioned to be leaders in the biofuels field.

The events, a joint reception hosted by Minnesota and Manitoba in the grand Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquatic Center followed by a reception hosted by Queensland on the rooftop of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, attracted a couple hundred members of the four delegations.

Public officials hosting the events encouraged their constituents to network and to find common opportunities. The dialog, information exchange and networking will continue at the Wisconsin reception on Wednesday, May 19 at the Hilton Atlanta and throughout the course of the four-day conference.

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 9:04 AM 

Amid gloom and doom, signs of biotech resiliency

By Tom Still

ATLANTA - There are no plans to hang crepe inside the Georgia World Congress Center, but the 2009 BIO International Convention will take place here this week against the backdrop of the toughest economic times ever witnessed by this still-young industry.

Venture capital investments in biotech companies have plummeted since the last time biotech's 16,000 or so faithful gathered in San Diego. Many companies are cash-starved and a few are closing their doors or being swooped up by bargain-hunting investors at pennies on the dollar. It is largely a product of the recession that began in the public financial markets and which quickly filtered into the private equity world, a vital source of capital for many biotech companies.

Wisconsin biotech and life sciences companies are not immune from those global trends. For those companies at critical stages of development, the next round of investment may be necessary to buy equipment, hire the right staff or even launch a clinical trial. Unlike companies in some technology sectors, those in biotech and life sciences face a long and costly regulatory runway before products reach the market - and their capital needs reflect that.

Not all companies will survive. "There are some biotechs out there just taking up space on the playground," observed one company executive from Madison. "This recession may clear some of them away, but those who remain will be that much stronger."

It's less about survival of the fittest than survival of the most adaptable. Companies are finding ways to accelerate product releases, cut costs, investigate new markets and seek alternative funding. They are also investigating strategic partnerships, one of the primary functions of the annual BIO gathering. Other signs of life include:

- The biotech industry was actually profitable, overall, in 2008. According to Burrill & Co., a respected investment bank that specializes in life sciences deals, that's the first time it has happened in the 25 years the industry has been around.

- Consolidation in the Big Pharma industry may work to help small biotech companies. Major pharmaceutical companies are spending less on internal research and development but aggressively shopping for ideas among small- and mid-sized biotechs. That phenomenon has reached Wisconsin, where Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Roche and others have investigated partnerships or purchased companies.

- Federal stimulus dollars may provide cash for worthy R&D projects. While the Obama administration has not proposed to spend more on R&D in the fiscal 2010 budget, it included a $60 billion allotment for merit-based research in the stimulus bill. That money may find it way to cash-poor companies in the form of grants from the National Institutes for Health and other agencies.

- Progress with biofuels and bioproducts appears to be accelerating, and the development curves for those products may be shorter in some cases.

The Wisconsin delegation at BIO is smaller than in past years, mostly because the economy kept some companies at home. But it still includes representatives of the state's major research institutions, tech transfer organizations, economic development groups and more. Companies will engage in partnership meetings and a number of events are scheduled to showcase Wisconsin's biotech assets.

During the boom times, every state, city and region claimed to be a biotech hub. The reality was always that some of those places couldn't back up the boast, either because they lacked the core R&D, the financing capacity or the ability to attract and retain the right people. The recession will sort through who is a biotech player and who is not. Wisconsin's historic strengths and recent commitments should help it remain among those states that may surge ahead once the recession ends.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

 8:59 PM 

Live from Atlanta: Wisconsin 'Bio Blog' will track 2009 BIO International Convention

By Ryann Petit-Frere

MADISON - Follow the activities of Wisconsin's delegation at the 2009 BIO convention in Atlanta by reading the "Wisconsin BIO Blog" beginning Monday, May 18. The May 18-21 BIO International Convention, the world's largest event for biotechnology, will attract up to 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 60 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 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 coverage of state political leaders, such as Gov. Jim Doyle and Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel, and breaking news on Wisconsin companies and events.

Contributors to the blog will be Tom Still and Ryann Petit-Frere of the Tech Council, Michael Flaherty of Flaherty & Associates, a Madison-based public relations firm, and free-lance photojournalist Tracy Will. Contact them during the convention at 608-354-7535.

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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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

 4:38 PM 

Wisconsin delegation plans for BIO International Convention in Atlanta

By Ryann Petit-Frere

MADISON -- Several individuals from government, academic and research institutions, non-profit organizations and the business community are planning to attend the 2009 BIO International Convention, May 18-21 in Atlanta, Ga.

Produced by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the convention is the largest biotechnology event in the world making it the premier annual event for anyone in the industry to attend.

WisBusiness.com, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Technology Council, will be on the ground covering the latest news of Convention and the Wisconsin delegation. Check back to view online coverage of the event including stories, pictures and video interviews from your Wisconsin bloggers: Tom Still, Ryann Petit-Frere and Mike Flaherty.

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