The competition in the life science space from other regions, states and global regions is growing all the time. With no other organization in North Texas committed to elevating the life science assets in the region, now is the time for a new organization to act boldly to promote the convergence of life science research and supporting industries in North Texas. Promoting the advantages of the entire region on the national and international fronts as a life science hub of innovation, product development expertise, investment and talent is important for both regional economic development and success of the regional life science community. An examination of those regions that have succeeded in building a robust biopharmaceutical cluster suggests that it requires:
- A strong basic research community able to attract competitive external grant funding
- State and private sectors committed to building a robust base of high-quality science and technology R&D and supportive infrastructure
- Academic and industrial researchers committed to translating discoveries into application and moving them forward to commercialization
- Highly skilled workers and a deep talent pool of both researchers and entrepreneurs
- Public and private sources of risk capital
- Affordable lab space and facilities equipped to house biopharmaceutical companies
- Mechanisms that support networking and cluster development
- Favorable financial incentives and tax policies.
“What stands out about the biopharmaceutical industry is that it takes many partners to create economic value. It is not simply a matter of companies bringing together an effective team. To go from new ideas for biopharmaceuticals to bringing patients new innovative treatments calls for a wide range of collaborations from university scientists to physicians and nurses carrying out clinical trials to government regulators to healthcare providers”.
Source: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Driving State Economic Growth in the 21st Century: Advancing the Biopharmaceutical Sector
North Texas is uniquely positioned with expertise, technologies and resources to become a major hub for several growing and emerging fields of life science. Growth is happening in areas such as nano bio, biofuels, proteomics, diagnostics and medical devices. The region has long been known for its technology infrastructure and an outburst of healthcare technologies that are changing the way healthcare is being delivered. The medical device and supply manufacturing sectors will continue as an increasingly important facet of the North Texas life science industry.
A major challenge of the region is that all efforts to bring industry together for partnering and improved commercialization have ceased. There is no one organization with a central focus on the life science industry in North Texas. Executives and industry leaders must rely on the efforts coming out of Austin and Houston to connect and collaborate. Some organizations rally behind healthcare technologies, mobile applications and software technologies, but none dedicate their efforts to the life sciences. Innovative technologies exist but frequently struggle to find resources to take them commercial. Many local and out-of-state investors are not focused on supporting technologies or incubators in the region.
Finding talent and retaining it in our region is also a challenge and impediment to success. There is a void in connecting the local talent with those companies that may need staff. People, simply put, do not know what opportunities exist or how to find them.
We believe the time is now for a North Texas initiative…a collaboration and partnership of all organizations, stakeholders, research and resources. BioNorthTX will accomplish this. Our mission as a non-profit trade association is to help foster an environment in North Texas that supports life science research, innovation and commercialization. BioNorthTX’s four overarching objectives are:
- To provide members support in capital formation;
- Information access and regional collaboration;
- Workforce development and regional marketing; and
- Communications and legislative support.
In order to help drive organizational success, the initial focus will be on capital access and creating the platform for regional collaboration.
BioNorthTX endeavors to bring the disparate parts of North Texas together to further fundraising and commercialization activities, and will play the lead role in public policy communications for the North Texas life science industry. By partnering with the state lobbying organizations and other regional trade groups, we will actively participate in efforts to advance legislative initiatives to create a more robust foundation for development in Texas.
BioNorthTX will establish itself as the premier host of events for networking and discussion of crucial up-to-the minute information on life science investments, regional, state and federal legislative, financial and regulatory issues, and talent retention and acquisition.
It is crucial for BioNorthTX to tailor programs, partnerships and events to meet the needs of our diverse industry. This includes finding ways to connect startups to funding sources and supporting the various programs that already exist, while increasing access to them. This may include connecting small companies with the services they need, including a network of discount programs that will provide savings to justify membership engagement. With companies trending toward leaner infrastructure and the virtual company business model, the outsourcing of services will continue to grow in prominence and significance. Likewise, for more established companies, education and employee development, benchmarking & best practices and legislative support become more important.
The need to recruit and build the life science workforce in North TX will continue to be challenging and must be addressed. The talent base still requires improvement, especially at the more senior levels. Creating an active life sciences industry in North Texas will help in both attracting and retaining talent in the region. Without a strong industry base our talent will seek opportunities in other regions or states.
BioNorthTX will be governed by a diverse “working” Board of Directors representing a broad cross-section of the industry including commercial organizations, heath sciences institutions, academic institutions, research & development organizations and other life science support organizations. The association will form alliances and collaborate with a wide-variety of state and national organizations engaged in the life sciences industry. BioNorthTX will serve as a regional partner for organizations such as the Texas Healthcare and BioScience Institute and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association. We will collaborate with the local office of the FDA and the ETF.
Funding for the association will be through membership fees, event fees, event sponsorship opportunities and through special grants or awards. Membership fees are based on organization classification and size.