By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2015, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
A year ago I found myself seated in the fourth row of a session at the 2014 Oklahoma BioSummit. I had no idea of what to expect, except for a chance to follow my Twitter feed for a couple hours.
Then, William Hagstrom, CEO of Oklahoma-born Crescendo Bioscience, told a story of how he met company founder Dr. Michael Centola and agreed to lead his young company.
Dr. Centola was sitting directly in front of me at that moment, so the story was living history. I was hooked.
The ending is well known to the Oklahoma Bioscience community. Crescendo Bioscience was acquired by Myriad Genetics for $270 million.
It is the type of home run that researchers and investors dream about.
All of this makes me greatly anticipate the approaching 2015 Oklahoma BioSummit on April 8 at the new Embassy Suites Hotel at the Medical Center.
Through the efforts of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, national experts with venture capital firms, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are coming to Oklahoma City.
Why so important?
Our scientists, preclinical start-ups and bio companies will get invaluable insight into the elusive hurdles that need to be addressed prior to building Big Pharma partnerships, giving them a big advantage as they strive to take their technologies to the marketplace. Knowing how to get their name in the appropriate circles, what’s trending in the partnering world and what pharmaceutical companies are seeking in new deals is half the battle.
We have immense research talent across Oklahoma. Being able to get an insider’s take on federal funding priorities and resources available to help applicants is priceless information for these researchers. The NIH invests nearly $30.3 billion annually in medical research, 80 percent of it is awarded through competitive bids, meaning there is a massive amount of money available for Oklahoma research.
Also, I’ve been told that attendees will get the scoop on additional research funding available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which was something of a surprise to me given the agency’s name.
Our state is in a unique position to think about applying human Bioscience to agricultural markets. Luckily we will have the acting regional director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the event to discuss how to gain access to federal researchers and valuable resources. Did you know the USDA and other federal labs can collaborate with companies, foundations or universities, even as co-applicants on federal grants? Oops, spoiler alert.
And if that’s not enough to help propel Oklahoma’s research ahead of the competition, the summit has panels of local researchers and “biopreneurs” who have been awarded federal grants and other nondilutive funding for technology developed for humans but used in agriculture markets.
Following the summit is the annual Bioscience Awards Dinner honoring Hall of Fame Leadership winner Carl Edwards, president of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and chairman of the Presbyterian Health Foundation. His efforts have helped lay a solid foundation for the continued development of this important industry throughout the state.
Award winners will also be unveiled in categories of Community, Researcher and Innovation Recognition. Check www.okbio.org to see who is in the running and to save your seat.
This year, I know what to expect from the BioSummit. My Twitter feed will go unchecked, and I just might move up a couple of rows to better hear the stories.
Jim Stafford writes about the state’s life sciences industry on behalf of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association.
If You Go
When: BioSummit, April 8 1 to 5:30 pm; Bioscience Awards Dinner, April 8, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Where: Embassy Suites, Downtown Medical Center
Who: Oklahoma’s life science and research community.
Sponsors: OKBIO Association
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Oklahoma Business Roundtable
Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies