On Tuesday, more than 30 leading venture capitalists and biotechnology industry executives spent the day in Oklahoma City. They were there to attend OMRF BioVenture Forum 2015, hosted by OMRF.
At the day-long event, executives and principals from U.S. and international pharmaceutical, diagnostics and venture capital firms met in Oklahoma City to share ideas and forge relationships. Congressman Tom Cole (R. Okla.) gave the keynote address, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin welcomed the participants at a networking reception following the event.
“Our state continues to excel across a variety of industries, and while not widely known, that includes quality biomedical research conducted by talented Oklahoma scientists,” said Cole. “Through the conversations at today’s forum, I am pleased that their work, talent and potential was elevated to the high level it deserves. It’s discussions like these that will lead to greater contributions and participation from Oklahoma in biomedical research nationwide.”
The goal of the gathering was to explore the commercialization of technologies and encourage interaction between industry insiders and Oklahoma scientists. For many participants, this was their first visit to Oklahoma.
“This forum provided an excellent opportunity to see how academics, industry and venture capital all work, to hear from each of those parties and have the opportunity to sort of brainstorm,” said Craig Wegner, Ph.D., Executive Director, Boston Emerging Innovations Unit, Scientific Partnering and Alliances, AstraZeneca IMED R&D.
“The networking has been great,” echoed Gene Liau, Ph.D., Executive Director of External R&D for Pfizer. “I’ve already made a couple of contacts that I didn’t expect that are going to have real implications for some of our programs.”
The day’s program featured panel discussions and talks by William Hagstrom, former CEO of Crescendo Bioscience, and OMRF cardiovascular biologist Charles Esmon, Ph.D., a member of the National Academy of Sciences with a long track record of partnering with industry.
Esmon’s work has already led to the development of a pair of FDA-approved drugs. Discoveries at OMRF have also led to two other products now available in clinics: Soliris, a drug to treat a rare blood disorder, and Vectra DA, a test used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
“We wanted to show our guests that we’re ready to build collaborations that will help Oklahoma researchers translate laboratory research into clinical applications,” said OMRF Vice President of Technology Ventures Manu Nair, who organized the forum. “That’s the goal of all research: to ultimately provide new diagnostics and treatments for disease. By bringing scientists and industry together to share ideas, we can speed that process.”