Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bucky Kicks Butt - in Biotech

In battles that really matter the State of Minnesota

still lags badly behind Wisconsin

As we await the Badger invasion next Saturday, an interesting article about the comparative biotech situation in Minnesota and Wisconsin has appeared in the Sunday Strib. It has been written by Thomas Lee who has a very good eye for developments in this general area.

Unfortunately, this important story is print only until Wednesday, so I can't give a link - yet. I'll put it up when the article appears online. [Added 9-30: link now up. ]

Some excerpts:

"As football fans and players prepare for next Saturday's showdown between Wisconsin's Badgers and Minnesota's Gophers at the new TCF stadium, it's obvious to those close to this industry that the biotech rivalry between the two states is just as spirited. And that Minnesota is the underdog."

"When it comes to innovation, epecially in biosciences, Minnesota is quickly falling behind its neighbor. Besides Rapid Dianostek a highly touted drug spun off from the U of M called VitalMedix, Inc. also moved to Hudson because it could not find financing in its home state. U officials also warn that a planned botech start-up from renowned scientist, Dr. Doris Taylor, might leave Minnesota if it can't find local funding."

"Wisconsin has become the regional biotech equivalent of traditional high-tech powerhouses like Boston, Silicon Valley, and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, thanks to strong political support, an influx of investor capital and what is arguably the most formidable university technology transfer program in the country."

"'How is Minnesota going to catch up?' said Rapid Diagnostek CEO Harry Norris. 'They need a quantum leap to catch up.'"

"But analysts say that the Badger state is light years ahead of Minnesota in creating biotech companies..."

"Wisconsin's tax credits alarm many in Minnesota. 'Even if Wisconsin takes a couple of companies a year, that's significant,' said Joy Lindsay, president of Star-Tec Investments, an angel investment firm in Bloomington. 'It's not only Wisconsin's tax credits. They seem to have gone further and set up an environment to help investors and entrepreneurs. We don't have that."
This is quite a thought-provoking article.

I'd advise anyone in Minnesota who is interested in Biotech to read it.

What seems to be lacking here in Minnesota is leadership in this area at the state level. The blame here may be placed at the feet of our absentee governor.

At the University of Minnesota there is also plenty of blame to share. Experience at University Enterprises Laboratories indicates that upper managment at the U of M does not have a handle on biotech.

Hopefully this will change in the next couple of years as our current fearless leader rides off into the sunset.

Business as usual is not going to cut it. This is a matter that needs to have high priority at the U, unlike some of the other things being pursued in the vainglorious ambition to be one of the top three yadda, yadda.

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