Andrew Steen, a specialist in building biotech start-ups, recently posted on Xconomy about the challenge of creating a start-up ecosystem in flyover regions that don’t typically support such a cluster.
Steen operates in Louisville, KY, “a city that probably isn’t too different from a lot of communities in the U.S. that are not biotech hubs like San Francisco and Boston.”
Since 1997, community leaders in Louisville have worked hard toward creating a start-up cluster. In 1998 they launched the Bucks for Brains research fund, which enabled the University of Louisville to recruit and retain scientists from top universities around the world. In August 2011, the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the university fourth in the top 100 schools to acquire federal funding for research and development.
“Bucks for Brains has helped to increase our intellectual property and technology base,” writes Steen. “But, those smart scientists are only one piece of the puzzle.” Just as important are the industry professionals who can help bring new technologies to market. According to Steen, too many startup clusters fall short in this regard.
Aspiring communities should also remember that they aren’t trying to be the next Boston or San Francisco. “Embrace co-opetition,” Steen says, “not competition.” He points to Seattle, where a number of companies — Immunex, Rosetta Inpharmatics and Corixa, for example — have flourished and gotten acquired.
“So, how do you build a biotech cluster?” Steen posits. “One step at a time.”
Posted November 28th, 2012 under Tech Transfer