Bioscience conference a place to highlight Oklahoma successes, opportunities
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2015 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
When i2E was asked to manage the Oklahoma BioScience Association (OKBio) a couple of years ago, we welcomed the opportunity.
The promise of Oklahoma’s bioscience sector is deep and wide. The economic impact statewide of bioscience exceeds $6.7 billion, supporting 51,000 Oklahoma jobs and annual revenues from Oklahoma bio companies of more than $4.1 billion.
The research, testing and medical laboratories in Oklahoma cut a broad swath that stretches from the Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation in Ardmore on through the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, to OSU in Stillwater, Tulsa University, and beyond.
Our roster of young pharmaceutical and therapeutic companies includes Moleculera, with a breakthrough technology for diagnosing Pandas/PANs, a treatable neurological disease. Biolytx is approaching clinical trials for its therapeutic antibiotic to treat antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Arthrokinex offers a new nonsurgical injection therapy for osteoarthritis. DormaTarg is developing therapeutics for cancer; and Synereca is close to clinical trials for a new compound which will enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics currently on the market.
i2E’s investment capital and venture advisory services have proven to be a critical and adaptable match for bio sector opportunities.
But however we tackle the challenges, bioscience companies by their very nature will require many more years and considerably more capital than startups in any other industry.
Investments must be specifically structured to accommodate initial and follow-on $5 million to $10 million rounds over the long runway (seven to 10 years) that stretches from preclinical trials to FDA approval.
From a capital standpoint, while we’ve been successful at syndicating with other investors to provide some early stage funding for preclinical trials on a number of biotech deals, Oklahoma startups in this sector benefit from greater and more direct access to biotech-specific funds. Those funds, along with strategic partners who may also be interested as investors, are commonly from outside Oklahoma.
That’s why i2E, OKBio, and others continue to support such a strong state presence and investment in BIO International — the world’s convention for biotech. This year, for example, we hosted 172 partnering meetings at our state pavilion and a reception attended by more than 400 industry leaders from around the globe.
Spreading the word
BIO International is the way to make sure the world knows about Oklahoma’s BIO scene. OKBio is the statewide bio organization that provides Oklahoma’s bio community access to the opportunities offered by BIO International.
We hold several events each year to highlight the importance of the bio sector to Oklahoma’s economy. OKBio BrewFest is an annual fall event to shine a spotlight on bio in Oklahoma and provide support for OKBio, which among other things provides BIO International scholarships to Oklahomans every year.
BrewFest, from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 5, features samples from 23 of Oklahoma’s best craft beer, wine and spirits producers. Learn more at www.i2E.org.
BrewFest is a fun way to show support for a growing and vital bioscience community, as well as to learn about great Oklahoma libations, which are a kind of bioscience, too.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.