3rd Annual Life Sciences Leadership Summit-2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | 11:30 am – 6:30 pm
Washington State University, Riverpoint Campus, Spokane
The Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA) and co-hosts Inland Northwest Health Systems (INHS) and Washington State University (WSU) met on Wednesday, June 30 at WSU’s Riverpoint Campus in Spokane to discuss strategies that will fuel continued growth and competitiveness of life sciences in Washington state.
INVITED SPEAKERS, PANELISTS AND GUESTS INCLUDED:
- Keynote Speaker: Dr. Elson Floyd, President, Washington State University
- Meeting Host: Tom Fritz, CEO, INHS
- Policy makers Jerome Delvin, Chris Marr and others
- Leading life science industry executives from the greater Spokane area, Tri-Cities and Western Washington, including the WBBA’s Board of Directors
- Leading research institutions and tech transfer offices, including; UW, WSU, PNNL, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Benaroya Research Institute, and many more
- Global Health executives from Washington’s Global Health Alliance
- Economic Development experts from Greater Spokane Inc, WA Department of Commerce, Sirti and others
- Washington’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund
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- To hear from and share knowledge among life sciences leaders across the state
- Discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by government, institutions, companies and other industry affiliates
- Discuss ways to collaborate to address challenges and leverage opportunities in order to maintain strong engagement among diverse constituencies
- Each participant develop three main “take-aways” that they are willing to share with WBBA to create a round-up of the meeting
- WBBA develop strategies from the outcomes of this meeting to foster ongoing collaboration with leadership around the state
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MAJOR TAKEAWAYS AND LEADING PERSPECTIVES:
1. Focus Priorities
Elson Floyd, PhD, President, Washington State University
Recently, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association’s (WBBA) Annual Leadership Summit in Spokane.
At Washington State University, we have realized the value of Washington State’s commitment to innovation. Washington is an agricultural leader, and our natural resources can be translated to strengthen innovation and life sciences research. For example, Washington State University researchers are currently working with Boeing on the research, policy, and creation of a next-generation biofuel supply chain suitable for aviation.
Thanks to our state’s position of leadership, I have become ever-mindful of Washington State University’s role among the leading land-grant universities. We play a vital role in the social and economic vitality of the state and wider world. Washington State University is currently the second most productive plant sciences program nationally, as measured by the Chronicle’s productivity index.
When I first became President of Washington State University in 2007, I immediately realized the value of the College of Veterinary Medicine as a great asset to the university and an area with untapped potential. Currently, the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine is home to some of the world’s leading researchers in zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic disease outbreaks are particularly acute in less developed societies where people often live in close proximity to their animals. However, developed nations are not immune. The SARS epidemic of 2003–2004 showed how quickly such diseases can spread. Food safety concerns, especially salmonella and E. coli, provide frequent reminders of the potential threat of zoonotic disease. These diseases, transmitted from animals to humans, account for upwards of 70 percent of human infectious diseases.
In 2010, we celebrated the groundbreaking for a new School for Global Animal Health at Washington State University. Thanks to a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we are able to renew our commitment to making Washington State University the preeminent institution in the detection, prevention and treatment of diseases that affect animals and move from animal to human populations, both in the U.S. and in developing countries.
During this time of economic uncertainty, the increasing importance of working collaboratively becomes more and more evident. Continued collaboration among educational institutions, nonprofits and the private sector will position our state at the forefront of discovery and advancement in the life sciences and global health.
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2. Synergy between Public and Private Organizations
Senator Chris Marr, Washington's 6th Legislative District (Spokane)
In the last decade, Washington State has seen explosive growth in the life sciences sector. But the economic crisis has put these accomplishments in jeopardy, and while Washington has established a reputation for itself as a leader in innovation, we risk very quickly falling behind.
Unfortunately, education has and will continue to be a target when cuts must be made to balance the state budget. The growth of Washington’s life sciences sector will only continue to flourish if the talent pool has the necessary training.
In these conversations, we cannot forget the value of public research institutions like the University of Washington and Washington State University. These schools bring billions of dollars of research money into Washington State, and from this research they create innovations on which new companies are founded.
If life science is going to continue to provide great opportunities in Washington, it will be because of the training provided to students from grad school through graduate school. Interrupting the quality of education we provide could be crippling to Washington’s future, and the effect would be most acute in life science.
As our state weathers economic challenges and faces continued budget cuts, future developments will be born of partnerships between public and private. These mutually beneficial partnerships will transform how we engage in intellectual property discussions, education and innovation.
In Spokane, we are proud to introduce a five-year plan to present the city, region and state with a four-year medical experience in Spokane in collaboration with UW and WSU. Without a strong talent pool, the private sector will suffer. It is in its best interest to shore up our educational institutions. In an uncertain economic environment, the future of strong partnerships is in public/private collaboration.
Collaborative efforts like the partnership to expand the Washington State University Riverpoint campus are the future of innovation in our state. It will take the dedication of all sectors and investors to drive a successful future. Future developments like this educational facility will set a trend for future partnerships and will benefit both the public and private sectors equally in the form of a deeper U.S. biosciences talent pool and the opportunity to further develop medical innovation to ensure future public investment in bioscience research. Continued growth of Washington’s life science sector will only happen if employees with the necessary training are available.
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3. Opportunities abound through innovations and collaboration
Tom Clement, Chairman, WBBA Board of Directors
Throughout this Leadership Summit, our conversations focused on not only the challenges facing the life sciences industry, but the opportunities as well. I came away from this meeting totally motivated by the candor and spirit of cooperation exhibited by all of the participants and look forward to what the outcomes will be from our discussions.
Spurred on by innovation and collaboration, the member companies of WBBA firmly believe we can make a difference in the future of our state. We are advocates for the future of our economy. Innovation creates change, and we are at a critical point in the development of an entire sector. Our mission is to translate innovation to realization; from breakthrough discoveries to better health solutions through advocacy, enterprise support and the enhancement of research collaboration.
Washington State has reached an impasse where the progress we’ve made in life sciences is not guaranteed into the future, and if we’re to continue to succeed we’ve got to invest in and nurture this important, but young industry sector. We need a proactive approach to secure continued leadership, fuel job growth and economic development, and ensure our state fully benefits from these advances.
The life sciences sector is particularly intensive on infrastructure and service and generates highly desirable, high-paying jobs. Washington’s life sciences companies and organizations directly employ more than 22,000 people in Washington State, and those jobs support as many as 76,000 additional jobs throughout the state’s economy, according to a report last fall by the Washington Research Council. These are well-paying jobs, representing more than $5 billion in salaries and wages.
State economies now compete not only with each other, but competition has widened with states contending with foreign counterparts for manufacturing facilities, resource and investment dollars. Like the CEO of one of these promising, emerging businesses, lawmakers must look both to our state’s immediate needs without short changing future growth.
Innovation will succeed if we choose policies that support scientific research and medical discovery. Searching for a cure for cancer is important to our health, but also to sustaining our region’s economic viability. The life sciences sector is a growth industry to watch, reinforce and follow. For Washington to support a thriving biotech sector, our state must attract private capital, create new mechanisms to facilitate IPOs, and institute tax policies that encourage local investment in R&D and related job growth.
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