A key recruitment official from the Alabama Department of Commerce is joining a delegation of state bioscience leaders at the BIO International Convention, the biotech sector’s largest annual conference, attracting more than 15,000 high-level industry figures from around the globe.
BIO 2016 begins today at San Francisco’s Moscone Center and runs through Thursday. While there, the Alabama team will have opportunities to connect with representatives of bioscience organizations, site selection experts, investors, and executives from large pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
This morning, Art Tipton, president and CEO of Birmingham-based Southern Research, will participate in a panel discussion titled “Creative Partnerships: Leveraging Economic Development Organization Support in the Life Sciences Sector.” SelectUSA, a federal program that promotes the U.S. as a location for business and investment, is sponsoring the seminar.
“Because of the innovative work in fields such as genomics and drug discovery taking place in Alabama, bioscience has been a long-standing focus of our economic development efforts,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Alabama’s bioscience institutions possess demonstrated skills and expertise, perfectly positioning them for productive partnerships and collaborations in many industry disciplines,” Secretary Canfield said.
At the BIO conference, Ted Clem, who heads Commerce’s Office of Business Recruitment and Retention, will take part in scheduled meetings with industry leaders and participate in networking opportunities. Clem oversees project managers charged with bringing new investment and jobs to the state.
As Alabama’s lead economic development agency, Commerce is intensifying its efforts to expand the state’s bioscience ecosystem, which includes more than 660 firms employing 13,000 people. Accelerate Alabama 2.0, an update of the state’s official economic development growth plan that will be released soon, will outline a more robust strategy for growing the life sciences sector.
Alabama offers many advantages for bioscience companies, including the presence of high-quality research institutions, access to technical talent, supportive tax policies and incentives, and a low overall cost of doing business, according to the Accelerate plan.
In addition, Commerce is teaming with BioAlabama, a statewide industry group, and established bioscience businesses and research organizations to enhance the recruitment of life science firms and attract talented researchers to the state.
BioAlabama has a pavilion at the biotech convention that will serve as a base for the Alabama delegation during the convention.
“BioAlabama’s mission is to promote biotechnology innovation in the state by raising visibility and creating the right environment to facilitate growth of existing biotech companies and to attract new opportunities in life sciences,” said Carter Wells, the organization’s immediate past chairman and vice president of economic development for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.
“Alabama is the right place for biotech, and we look forward to sharing that message on an international stage,” Wells added.
THE ALABAMA TEAM
The Alabama delegation at to the BIO conference includes leaders from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Southern Research and HudsonAlpha. All of these organizations have an impressive track record of cutting-edge research.
- UAB’s School of Medicine and Southern Research have around 18 potential drugs in the development pipeline at a partnership they formed called the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA).
- UAB received $225 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in Fiscal 2014 alone.
- Scientists at Southern Research have discovered seven FDA-approved anticancer drugs.
- HudsonAlpha has become one of the world’s largest gene-sequencing centers with clients in 800 research labs around the world.
Alabama-based firms at BIO include Discovery BioMed and Soluble Therapeutics in Birmingham; GeneCapture, iCubate, CFD Research Corp. and iXpress Genes in Huntsville; SpectraCyte LLC in Mobile; and Innovative Med Concepts in Tuscaloosa.
Southern Research’s Tipton said long-term participation in the BIO conference will help elevate the profile of the state’s life sciences sector and position it for additional growth.
“The companies from across Alabama will get to know each other better, get to know what their capabilities are – that’s always a good thing,” Tipton said. “We will have an opportunity, both on the exhibit floor and at the dinner, to present ourselves as a state and to show the breadth of companies in Alabama to a variety of people.
“Also, many other states will have a presence at BIO,” Tipton added. “Being represented there puts Alabama in the bioscience sector, just like all the other states. That’s a positive thing. Having a continual presence at the conference is important. People know each other, they’re in the mix, they know who to contact in the state.”