055: ls Virginia becoming the “Biosciences State”? A 360 view from the Thrive Conference hosted by Virginia Bio


The theme of the Thrive Conference this past week in Virginia Beach was branding Virginia as the “Bioscience State”. There’s several initiatives to boost economic development in the state like grants, complimentary working space, and innovation challenges. Is that enough to achieve the goal of becoming the Biosciences State”? Listen to the 360 view of service provider, startup, investor, grant assistance, and economic development to see how Virginia is uniting to achieve this goal together.

Want to be part of the community we’re building online plus get expert coaching and consulting from myself and my network? Join the Boardroom! Find out more here.

We all had a great time in Virginia Beach and it was fun to be back at the beach since moving from San Diego. The day started off cloudy then the conference was interrupted by a fire alarm then tornado warning… literally… everyones cell phone buzzed with alerts in the middle of a talk alerting us. The hotel next door to the Hilton, the conference venue, had a pice of their building fly off. Anyway, we were all save and sound and learned a ton throughout the day.

Since I just moved from San Diego, one of the top biotech hubs in the country, the claim by the state of Virginia to be the “biosciences state” seems pretty lofty. However, it is my state of residence now and I want to do everything I can to help. I think they have their work cut out for them with San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston…. but…. it is doable. Especially with all of the tax incentives, grant matching, and free lab space I kept hearing about as a means to attract talent to the state.

They’re right when they say it’s a ripe environment for all of this. There’s the universities, the research institutes, the money, and of course, the NIH, NSF, DARPA, BARDA, and so many other funding resources close by. I want to do everything I can to help and bonus since I know so many startups in California that are struggling since that’s not exactly the most tax friendly state.

I did hear a theme that Virginia has a ways to go in private funding. There’s the grant money yes, but when it comes to angel investment and VC funding, it’s really difficult for most startups here. In this age of virtual companies, I see that changing though. Especially as people network and the world gets smaller, no startup has to reside in silicon valley anymore to make a big impact.

What do you think? Do you see other startup hubs around the country? I’ve heard good things about Tampa, Orlando, Nashville, and even Austin.

Want to be part of the community we’re building online plus get expert coaching and consulting from myself and my network? Join the Boardroom! Find out more here.


Host: Meghan Alonso

Host Company: Imua Services

All Podcasts:
iTunes: bitly.com/Inspire

Full Transcription:

Recorder: Are you ready to master the waves of medical device product development? Well wax up your surfboard because you are listening to inspired by Imua. Here is your medical device product development expert that Hawaiian hearted hostess who will help you hang ten. Meghan Alonso.

Meghan: E komo mai and aloha! You’re listening to inspired by Imua, where we help you master the waves of medical product development. Each week we interview guest that educate, guide and inspire to give you and your product the skills you need to hang ten. If this is your first time listening, Imua is spelled I-M-U-A and it’s a Hawaiian word. It means to advance forward with passion despite rough waves.  There are plenty of those in the medical product development but keep listening because each week we’ve got you covered.

Meghan: So this past week I took a trip into Virginia Beach and attended the Thrive Conference which is hosted by an organization called Virginia Bio and I collected all different audio samples for you so we can just have a 360 view of what the ecosystem? What the climate? What is happening in the state of Virginia around Biotech and Medtech but first I wanted to let you know an opportunity if you are interested in networking in other Medtech and Biotech start ups and you’re in Minneapolis. I would love for you to come out and see me this Thursday April 13th so I’m having a meet up event in the Day block Bury so you can find out some detail at IMUA-SERVICES.COM/EVENTS and speaking of networking I am on a mission to create community online and in person and I have a unique opportunity for you called the board room so not only is it about executive board rooms but surf board as well and this combines that community with expert coaching and guidance from myself and other experts and my network so I’d love for you to be a part of it you also interact with other entrepreneur and start ups going the same tough stuff you are and they’re there to help so check it out it’s IMUA-SERVICES.COM/BOARDROOM so back to the Thrive Conference I wanted to give you a 360 view of what’s going on from a lots of different angles and we’re first gonna hear from a start up company and then we’ll from one of the service providers so I want you to sit back and relax and listen to this and then we’ll get in to funding and where the state of Virginia is heading specifically Virginia Beach and the big ecosystem incubator they’re working on alright and enjoy I’ll be back in a few minutes.

Speaker 1: Hi I’m Dr. Crystal I’m the CEO for. I’m also the chairman also for Virginia Bio.

Meghan: So where is the – based out of?

Speaker 1: We’re in Northern Virginia and Ash born Virginia

Meghan: Okay close by just moved to Reston.

Speaker 1: Oh great just a few minutes down the road.

Meghan: So you’re a start up company here in Virginia and tell us a little bit about the climate and the funding landscape for you.

Speaker 1: Within the state of Virginia it’s a very difficult landscape. Virginia hasn’t traditionally been known for funding as its Bio technology companies we’re getting to the point where we’re reaching critical mass but we’re not quite there yet so we have to often have to look outside the state of Virginia fortunately I was able to secure my late investors to Washington DC area but in the state of Virginia it’s still very challenging so one of the speakers said persistence it takes a lot of persistence because it’s a very difficult thing to find the right investors at the right time but from the investors stand point but the company stand point.

Meghan: So tell us a bit more about your technology.

Speaker 1: My company does testing for infections and we’ve develop a technology that’s able to identify all known infections from any sample on a single task so we can identify the presence of every bacteria every bios every parasites and every fungus from any type of the sample tissue in just one task .

Meghan: So is this clea test?

Speaker 1: We operate in a clea certified laboratory because this is a cutting edge technology it’s difficult to get certification and those regulatory misses in place we are label as researchers only indication but we have 30 clients that are using our services most of which are health care providers that need this type of the services to provide adequate care for the patients.

Meghan: Okay great and earlier today kind of the theme of the conferences advancing Virginia Bio science forward in your opinion in your eyes as a start up. What can help that?

Speaker 1: I think it’s building the ecosystem that’s here so having more awareness of all the Biotech companies that are in the state but also understanding the resources we can pull in the universities system understanding the financial sources that are here, understanding the programs that’s the state of Virginia puts forward to help support the system. Connecting all those dots together and getting more people engage more people involve to build that critical mass so we can really grow the industry.

Speaker 2: I’m Caitleen with Palomers solutions incorporated

Meghan: And you guys are headquartered at Christians Berg Virginia, correct?

Speaker 2: Yes correct!

Meghan: So tell us what you see happening in the Virginia Biotech community over the past few years and kinda where it’s headed in the future.

Speaker 2: Over the past few years I’ve seen a definite push towards increase collaboration between industry and academia and realizing that for us to be mutually successful in the commonwealth we need to come together more to work to get the amazing discoveries happening in a research environment translated to an industry and patient use environment.

Meghan: And so as a service provider with Palomers solutions how are you guys doing that from the industry perspective yourself?

Speaker 2: One way we’re doing that is making sure we show up in important events for these conversations are happening like this Virginia Bio Science Thrive event. We make sure we come and we’re part of the conversation that we’re sharing our perspective and also sharing the way that we support the Bio science industry as a Lab that does chemical analysis and physical testing and supportive devices and for products we the key roll but we need to make sure people understand that role and especially doing it in a regulated environment there’s a huge quality component that is often lacking from the academic side that we’re able to provide to the industry side of things.

Meghan: That’s great because you know what the industry needs and I’ve seen that in academia where a lot of it is pretty lofty and may not be feasible to.

Speaker 2: Yes exactly and so for medicine and other discoveries to be able to translated from academic environment there has to be those quality assurance over site or by the time it hits the FDA it’s gonna be a setback rather than a quickly moving process so we strive to help with that with our all of our testing is within a regulated environment and therefore it helps with the submission process.

Meghan: Thank you!

Meghan: I hope that was pretty good insight whether you’re here in Virginia or nationwide to just see what’s happening in our state and next we’ll get into funding which is always a huge challenge for start ups and I’m gonna talk about traditional angel investing but also government grants and just how to get that money.

Speaker 3: Executive director 757 Angels.

Meghan: We just heard a great panel which you were a part of and I was really interested in when you are looking at application for entrepreneurs and start ups to be funded by 757 Angels what are some of the red flags that you’ve seen right off the bat and how do you reach back out to them or what type of report do you give them or maybe it’s just a few words on guidance along with a no.

Speaker 3: Great question! I think we have a pre screening where we actually meet with companies so they have the opportunity to talk for some of those red flags so I don’t really send document with No’s until I have the opportunity to talk about it with people.

Speaker 3: So you know one red flag that really jumps out that was discussed by many of the panel is a management team so we know that all companies usually starts with one person with a great idea and we’re very supportive of that but 757 Angels typically enters when there’s a well establishment team so if a single founder purchase me that is a red flag. Another red flag again is evaluation so if you have a valuation that’s very high typically we feel like you haven’t done your homework. You don’t understand venture math and you haven’t really walked through the process and terms of the financial track that your company could take. 3rd another red flag would be if a company says that they’re talking to a big venture capital player and they’re also talking to me at the same stage you’re not so having a full understanding of the capital stack and the capital continue on where capital providers enter and exit.

Meghan: Okay well thank you very much!

Speaker 4: Liz Powell with G2G consulting which stand for Government to Growth

Meghan: So Liz not only you work with start ups in Virginia but you work with them nationwide and we were having a conversation earlier with some of the changes and administration and funding available so give us an update quarter to update.

Speaker 4: Great so within the department of defence we’re actually seen big increases with the change of administration and control congress big support for defence increases which includes medical innovation medical funding so in the current there’s 60 million dollar increase for medical RND alone in one account there’s other increase from supply medical supply right actually see a lot of opportunity for medical bio science companies with administration

Meghan: Those funding resources in particular which ones are part of that increase?

Speaker 4: They actually don’t specify which medical technologies that are identified for that funding they leave that department of defence so then department of defence you’ve got comeback casualty care you’ve got rehabilitated care you’ve got. This different sectors that they each having program director to determines how they want to spend that money to meet gaps that they’re facing for the.

Meghan: For the early stage entrepreneur and start up have idea validation they’ve got a fundable company what are some pointers that you have get as far as navigating government funding.

Speaker 4: Absolutely! I think number one is figure out what you need funding for and how much. Number 2 you need to get a message that I like to summarize in terms of problems in the results so the problem that you’re trying to address and make it specific to your target so you’re targeting to the military and they can relate to the right that’s paediatrics make it related paediatricians so you really have to target in and then problem system results what results can you provide if you’re given a million dollars for that instance. One of the bet in for a one page document and you used that to start a conversation for each program and you need to research and find the right program to talk to and develop its relationships show your capabilities. Listen to what they’re needs are what there gaps are and only then after you develop that relationship have them you’ve be making expression for funding.

Meghan: And you help people do just that so when they get in touch with you what does that process look like as far as starting to work with you and Identify the right types of funding opportunities that they can go after number 1 is hearing there story when the company was started or institution the work they’re doing now where you want to take it the next 5 years what the funny needs are. The challenges once I fully understand their situation then I can create a strategic world map that lays out all the targets we can pursue for them we expect to get out of each one the work involved and it’s just like a few pages it’s a not length we got but it’s enough to guide us so we’re very particular in our approach for going after funding once we got that up then we do white paper I mention with problem results spelled out and then we set up introductions we go and meet with these targets and also there’s funny that you learn about these minions that are not posted on the internet so cannot just rely on the internet and finding up and apply you want to apply after you know for sure you got a very good chance because you narrowed your focus with the program manager wants to see.

Meghan: Sounds like you have a great resource for people and it’s such a gift to be able to help them navigate that. It isn’t intimidating especially if you are not near the DC area.

Speaker 4: Yes absolutely. I think what’s the key is you have to do your homework before you start these conversations you want to be well prepare when you go in and you’ll be able to listen and respond because sometimes they’re giving you great intel in the meeting you didn’t even expect to get so it’s really important you do all that first before making a submission.

Meghan: Okay and lastly I have a few special guest that will talk about where the state of Virginia is headed. Just you know Virginia is branding itself as the state for Biosciences usually we think of Texas has a big cancer initiative. California has a big brand initiative there’s different stage that are branded for different reasons and you just think of that and Virginia wants to be the Biosciences state so we’ll listen to see what’s going on with that and then we specifically get into the host city of this conference Virginia Beach and what Virginia beach up to promote Biosciences and there’s also a innovation pitch competition and there’s a lot of good things going on you know I just moved here from California where let’s face it California you’re not very business friendly but Virginia has a lot of incentives if you’re a start up company you’re looking for commercial space you’re looking for grants there’s a ton of great of set ups for you to move here and have your head company your company head quarter here so there’s free space there’s grants that you have access too. It’s a lot of good stuff so you’re gonna hear of some of that and sit back and relax and I’ll be back in a few minutes.

Speaker 5: Okay so I’m Michael I’m the vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech I’m also the executive director of what’s called of the Virginia Tech Research Institute Virginia which is a public private partnership Virginia tech and the – and I’m also the – research at the Virginia tech medicine.

Meghan: That’s quite an impressive resume right there so you guys are working with amazing things in the Virginia biotech community so give our audience an overview of what you talked about on stage which is the partnerships.

Speaker 5: Right so we’re not only developing within our own community and academic centre innovative technologies and applications of health science space in a few key areas the neurosciences, cardiovascular health, cancer infection disease but we’re also working with state wide in the commonwealth to build in complementary strengths across institutions but universities enhance us to collaborative work so for example today I spoke primarily about the brain research and neuroscience so we have at our institution tech assembled themes are really world leading brand researchers so one of things we have been involve with cause developing really innovative technologies for brain searching human diseases so for example we have a group led by –technology to link functional brains in a worldwide so MRI are linked in a network for a real time interactive brain imaging and that leads you to see the social interactions that go on within one human brain to another where just a proxy for early science for neuropsychiatric disease using that is their group has developed for example the first test for has been informed for the in the scanner they develop new ways to diagnose neuropsychiatric disorder like borderline personality disorder which is otherwise devastating using that technology so that’s one example that types of technologies we’re also collaborating across institutions so for example Virginia tech where you have what’s called a biology research centre and then similar centre at university of Virginia so our investigators are collaborating on brain tumors primary and secondary cancers of the brain and by the way that’s the phenomenally important part of analysis even the primary brain tumors are count of small number cases of deaths of devastating. Secondary met a static brain disease is becoming a big problem in United States the reason is people are surviving so much longer from the other cancers would affect the treatments. No one know the lung cancer breast cancer many of those moved from the cast of size into the brain and we know very little in the medical in the scientific communities about how these met a static brain disorder interact in the brain so we’ve develop the Virginia tech and network with vetinary medicine as well because also the campaign of animals like dogs are surviving with other types of cancers but there moving into the brains so we develop a network of people working in human health animal health that are attacking these secondary those primary brain cancers for example and the other side of this point it’s really exciting is child development brain development in kids. Development of all these abilities and disabilities things that can relate to brain injury in children which by aware the number one disabler and the number one killer of the children for having brain injury so we have incredible influence in the state of expertise in engineering mechanics, imaging materials it’s set and child health focus to help system in the state we bring those together in a collaborative way to address in noble technologies ways to prevent entry injuries to the brain in kids and development of this abilities including disabilities related to things like disorder.

Meghan: That’s a lot exciting stuff happening and earlier today someone mention that Virginia wants to move forward with branding us the Biosciences state so how can we get there from where we are today?

Speaker 5: I think we need to focus firstly and so there was a discussion earlier about California being coming down as a they invested 3 billion dollars instead of Texas did something similar in cancer also the 3 billion dollar bond investment although they fed some challenges in Texas but the discussion that we’ve been having in the Biosciences we want to be that broad or focus on one area we suggest that is for Virginia as the brain state and the focus of the neuroscience one of the really exciting things about neuroscience it’s not just diseases although many brain disorders come in to play that affect the large population in United States it also is about understanding the brain to enhance performance in normal conditions brain machine interfaces it brings in the whole sector of the googles of the world and facebooks of the world in engineering into the brain sciences although help is a major part of it it’s not the only part of it. It’s not the only part of it so we think the idea of branding Virginia as not only a bioscience both having at least a focus of brain area as a brain state is a great way to enable us. We need to have investment we need to have collaboration across the institutions and we have to have the leadership of state government and to embrace and identify that area or another as a maybe in make investments that capitalize operation in collaboration. We need private partners and investments the kind of things we discuss in the meeting today about Angels and venture capital as well as industry partner what we’re trying to do is create a network of resources that are so attractive industry partners if you’re interested of brain research of any type you have to go to Virginia because we brought the resources together.

Meghan: Alright well thank you. I’ll do a follow up episode maybe in another year to see what’s going.

Speaker 6: I’m Steve Harrison with the City of Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development.

Meghan: So Steve I hear that Virginia Beach is really pushing forward on initiative de brand by medical sciences to this area so why is that decision made? Why bio medical sciences?

Speaker 6: So mayor the mayor of Virginia beach in 2014 really kind of called the Bioscientist of the area to create this initiative using a task force that you develop in university leader by medical companies and presidents and various institutional leaders in organization from around Virginia Beach all the way up to because we have the largest concentration of college students in Virginia in this area we also have a lot of amazing bio medical companies like LIFENET health which is the largest organ and tissue organization in the United State they have headquarter here and have medicine institute here in our bio corridor operation smile which is the global for profit it does surgeries it’s also the headquarter in our corridor bio technology which focuses fatty liver disease and headquarter there and really we wanted to take these assets and promote them in a way as to recruit additional companies and provide opportunities for the university students who are graduating with degrees to stay here in the Virginia Beach so we build the bio medical park or we’ve are in the process of building this park this it will be 155 and the heart of our corridor and it will have a class say office wet lab medical manufacturing light industrial space and it gives these entrepreneurs and the existing companies to grow and expand the footprint in Virginia.

Meghan: So since this area is very heavy and defence space I know that a lot of them measures here taking is to overall community and have the bio medical sciences complement the needs of the military in veterans here so expand a little about that for me.

Speaker 6: Yeah without a doubt I mean Virginia Beach and Hampton road metro area are really unofficial home of US military the largest naval base in the world is here the east coast master base is here this is about 90 thousand active military personal in the region and 200 thousand veterans in the Hampton road so our strength in the defence industry is almost unparallel but also veterans has to be intended in parallel we’re working with the state with the veterans care centre in our bio corridor and allow doctors and researchers to hopefully focus on better end and related illnesses and better related health care innovations we’re also working with the centre of advancing innovation to spin out about 20 research opportunities and inventions from NIH in nasal into what we’re calling the Virginia reach bio innovation challenge and all of those inventions will focus on veteran health care and veteran related illnesses so we’re talking about PTSG dramatic brain injury as well as things like diabetes, heart disease all sorts of things that’s really kind it covers and what we’re trying to do is take the expertise in the defence round and not divert it but expand to include the biosciences.

Meghan: So with that innovation challenges is that open for enrolment starting now?

Speaker 6: It is yeah absolutely so if you visit INNOVATEVABEACH.COM you can find out more about the challenge so Rose Mary is the CEO of the advancing innovation is currently working with us on finalizing with the application process but what we really want is for people from all assets of the industry whether you’re a scientist you’re a business person you’re veteran looking to get involve to this type of industry we’re hopeful that people will come together apply for this initiative and they’ll be mentor for about 18 month period by format executives by major industry leaders by university presidents and researchers here and far and so the opportunity is opening up right now and we certainly love for anybody to apply INNOVATEVABEACH.COM

Speaker 7: Rose Mary the founder and CEO of the centre for advancing innovation

Meghan: So you guys have quite the exciting things happening there so tell us a little bit about that.

Speaker 7: So our mission is to identify breakthrough inventions and maximize our commercial potential so we work with 70 thousand inventions we identify the highest miscommercially viable ones and then we basically launched a company around then so we’re working on two initiative in the presents one is the cancer start up challenge that’s going to be launching a 100 companies in cancer by 2018 about the middle of 2018th and we’re also launching initiative for Virginia Beach to launch companies that are focus of related illnesses so we’ll launching 20 companies we’re planning in Virginia Beach we’re working with other stuff too but this is the that are under way.

Meghan: So this conference we’ve talked about just building Virginia as the Biosciences state what do you feel like needs to happen for that or is already happening?

Speaker 7: I think it’s really happening and what’s really cool about what’s happening what I’m seeing is that the party across the state are galvinizing the resources within the state and it’s happening at a rapid pace. It’s truly amazing to see the entrepreneurial mind set of the state I haven’t seen anything like it.

Meghan: What are some tips that you have for someone wanting to join these challenges?

Speaker 7: Build a great team it’s a number 1 challenge for the challenge is getting a great team so we accept 25% of the people who apply and the reason is because we want teams that look like good start ups coming in so that means you need to have legal advice you need to have industry perspective you need to know how to diluted funding. You need to have the cracked medical and scientific background the average team size for those that come in is about 10 people because you need to form a small village to really be able to think through the commercialization on the invention.

Meghan: Alright so thank you!

Speaker 7: You’re welcome!

Meghan: So that kinda wraps up this episode and hope you enjoy these highlights from the Thrive conference hosted by Virginia Bio if you want more information you can reach out to me. My email is MALONSO@IMUA-SERVICES.COM and I’m just gonna throw that out there again if you are in Minneapolis this week then come see me come hang out at the Day Block Bury on Thursday details at IMUA-SERVICES.COM/EVENTS and if you’re not in Minneapolis or even if you are I’d love to see you in the boardroom as well so check that out that is our online community plus coaching plus private consulting through myself and some of my network experts in the industry for you that’s IMUA-SERVICES.COM/BOARDROOM and until the next episode IMUA!

Mahalo for joining us. If you’re new to riding the waves of medical device product development, or if you’ve been in development for a while already, Inspired by Imua is here to surf with you. Want to be a master of the waves? Text hang ten that’s all one word HANGTEN to 44222. We’ll send you the most common wipe outs companies make in product development so you can avoid them and reach master wave status. Again, that’s HANGTEN to 44222. We publish a new episode every Tuesday, so catch us at Inspiredbyimua.com. Imua!

About the Author

Comments are closed.