April 23, 2013

Showcasing Alabama's biotech future at BIO

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Perhaps the largest delegation in Alabama's history heads off this week to the annual meeting of the Biotech Industry Organization (BIO) annual meeting in Chicago. The group will include the leadership of the UAB Research Foundation, the Birmingham Business Alliance and Innovation Depot, the UAB-affiliated incubator, as well as experts from universities and companies from across the state.

logoAs a group, most of those heading off to BIO are members of BioAlabama, the organization that works to foster life sciences here by creating the right scientific, business and legislative climate. The meeting will provide its members the opportunity to form new relationships with the biotech industry, hopefully as a first step toward new ventures.

We thought BIO made for a good occasion for the The Mix to break from its usual focus on research, and to instead consider the potential for research-driven economic development in the state. We sat down with David Winwood, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Research Foundation, to talk about his goals for the BIO meeting and what's next for the Alabama economy. The foundation helps to manage discoveries by UAB researchers (e.g. patent protection), while finding partners that can help them form companies.

The BIO meeting comes just as the foundation is integrating these traditional functions into an larger effort to found more tech-based companies and create an entrepreneurial culture under the auspices of the newly founded UAB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The ultimate goal: see more inventions save and improve lives while serving as a basis of new companies that spread prosperity. This notion is at the core of the UAB strategic plan, the new UAB branding campaign and recent remarks by the new UAB President, Ray L. Watts, who will be headlining BioAlabama's science symposium in May.