By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
SAN DIEGO — When Tom Kupiec looked to either side, he saw more than a pair of fellow Oklahomans joining him at a small conference table on the floor of the San Diego Convention Center.
The trio represented a collaborative effort to take the story of Oklahoma’s life sciences industry cluster to the world at the 2017 BIO show here.
“This is great example of where academia partners with industry to further the public-private partnerships,” said Kupiec, owner of Oklahoma City’s Analytical Research Laboratories and DNA Solutions.
Seated to Kupiec’s left was Charles Rice, associate professor in University of Oklahoma’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. On Kupiec’s right was Blake Hopiavuori, a Venture Fellow in OU’s Office of Technology Development.
“Academia meets with industry here to further those public-private partnerships,” Kupiec said. “That is exactly what we are interested in — working together collaboratively in the development of the future of the Innovation District.”
Both of Kupiec’s companies are based in the University Research Park at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, which is in the heart of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District envisioned for the campus.
Oklahoma’s collective effort to promote itself at the BIO show, which concluded Thursday, as a center for life science research and business activity drew participants from a variety of industries.
There were business leaders such as Kupiec, along with university partners, students and economic development professionals from Norman to Ponca City.
Late Wednesday, a representative from New York stopped by the Oklahoma booth and marveled at the level of activity and excitement surrounding the OKBio pavilion.
That’s exactly the image the OKBio effort is designed to display to the biotech world, said Rick Rainey, a venture adviser with Oklahoma City-based business accelerator i2E Inc.
“It’s interesting to see the diversity of experiences that we have in Oklahoma,” Rainey said. “When they all come together with their different disciplines, it creates a strength, and it’s a strength that we can display for New York or other visitors who come by.”
Meanwhile, the BIO show concluded late Thursday afternoon with a schedule that not only included a massive exhibition but educational seminars and a lineup of speakers drawn from across the biotech and political worlds.
Those educational opportunities are an added bonus of attending the show, Kupiec said.
“Not only do you have good one-on-one meetings for partnering, but you have other exhibitors and talks such as I’m getting ready to attend by Dr. Craig Venter on the future of personalized medicine,” he said. “They have really good speakers here.”