February 13, 2003
Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative celebrates accomplishments, shares future priorities at 1-year anniversary
Industry, university collaborations highlight progress, results of targeting project unveiled
INDIANAPOLIS Central Indiana's highest-visibility economic development effort marks its first anniversary with significant progress towards making the region a national and international life sciences hub. The Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative's partners celebrated the achievements of the past 12 months during a breakfast at Dow AgroScience's northside Indianapolis headquarters on Thursday. The Initiative also shared its priorities for 2003 and beyond.
During the meeting, the Initiative unveiled the results of a massive study that catalogued the region's life sciences assets and established industry targets for the region (see "Life Sciences Initiative Releases Industry Targets"). This type of research will help establish priorities and guide future investment, according to David Goodrich, a co-founder of the Initiative and President of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.
"The first year has shown us that Central Indiana has a wealth of life sciences assets, from cutting-edge university research to industry leaders like Eli Lilly and Dow AgroSciences," said Goodrich. "This targeting process will allow Central Indiana to hone in on particular fields and gather the specialized resources necessary to become a premier destination for talent and investment."
While having a strong foundation in basic sciences is critical, creating commercialization opportunities within these targets is vital. Therefore, the Initiative will also focus on building the region's entrepreneurial capacity. Goodrich added, "We already have established corporate leadership and substantial university innovation, therefore, the Initiative will focus on building the region's entrepreneurial capacity in 2003. The missing link is the entrepreneurial activity to grow additional companies."
Sidney Taurel, chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company and co-founder of the Initiative said, "Lilly supports these industry targets and the focus on building the entrepreneurial capacity within the region. We see new start-ups as potential strategic partners, with every new source of innovation in the region benefiting us all."
The original founders the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Indiana University and Purdue University, the City of Indianapolis, the Indiana Health Industry Forum and Eli Lilly and Company reported that the Initiative has exceeded one-year benchmarks in several key areas.
For example, the Initiative's original two- to five-year plan called for the establishment of a downtown Indianapolis business incubator facility focusing on the life sciences. With support from the Initiative, IU's Advanced Research and Technology Institute will formally open its Emerging Technologies Center in April the 62,000 square foot incubator on the downtown canal has already attracted several life sciences tenants.
"The partnership between IU and the Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative almost immediately expressed itself in bricks and mortar, with our new incubator," said Gerald Bepko, interim President of Indiana University. "The facility will be critical to bringing IU innovations to the market and expanding the region's entrepreneurial capacity."
The IU incubator also serves as an anchor to a larger effort, driven by the Initiative and the City of Indianapolis' economic development team, to establish a research community that will accommodate future life sciences growth in the northwest quadrant of downtown. The nationally-recognized architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle is conducting the later stages of a comprehensive land use plan for the area.
"We see the Emerging Technologies Center and the IU School of Medicine's proposed Information Sciences building as the kind of assets that will attract more investment and private industry participation in a downtown research community," said Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, an Initiative founder. "Just like North Carolina's Research Triangle Park grew from undeveloped forests between three universities, a research community that takes advantage of our significant private and university R&D capabilities can grow in downtown Indianapolis."
Other Initiative activity has centered on encouraging collaboration between private industry and universities along with expanding entrepreneurial activity. Efforts include a series of networking events that bring together university researchers and corporate leaders and a statewide conference for managers of Indiana incubators. The selected industry targets will also work as a mechanism encouraging collaboration.
"Collaboration is the key to life sciences growth," said Dr. Martin Jischke, President of Purdue University. "The Initiative is providing more opportunities for economic partnerships like the one recently announced between Purdue and Carmel-based Theron Technologies in developing and testing a Purdue technology for taking the vital signs of premature infants. This technology was conceived in Central Indiana and will be developed in Central Indiana, providing economic benefit for the region and medical benefits for the world. That's what the Life Sciences Initiative is all about."
The Initiative has also continued its work to build a skilled work force under the leadership of the Indiana Health Industry Forum. In late 2002, IHIF announced preliminary results of a work force analysis designed to reveal life sciences skill gaps in the region's labor force.
"We have seen a tremendous amount of collaborative support for this effort," stated Wade Lange, President of the Indiana Health Industry Forum and co-founder of the Initiative. "In fact, several Initiative partners have developed a pilot program for a two-year associate's degree in biotechnology that will be offered by IUPUI. At the completion of the study we will work with our academic advisory board to develop more customized training programs, particularly related to the target opportunities."
Commenting on the Initiative's future, Dave Goodrich says, "In the first quarter of 2003, you'll see significant progress on venture capital formation, results of the work force analysis, the completion and implementation of a new marketing and branding strategy and activity arise out of the target teams. Our momentum will continue to build."
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