Each week we chronicle San Diego Biotechnology news, events, and jobs. Now, we’ll provide you with the top news and jobs each week at the end of the day Thursday. The top news is determined by the popularity of items in our daily emails. The top jobs are the ones that are featured, contact us to learn how you can get your jobs listed here. Bookmark the pages below and check back on Fridays to see what’s hot in San Diego life science!
The biggest question in entrepreneurship is how does one take an idea and make it reality, make it something that’s tangible and positively affects an individual and society as a whole. This was the theme at March’s SDBN networking event with Organovo, sponsored by Invetech.
Invetech helps companies translate innovations into breakthrough products. They work with diagnostics, life sciences, medical devices, industrial, consumer and clean-tech industries. Based in Australia, Invetech opened an office in San Diego in 2008 and has worked with a number of local companies including Organovo.
From idea to solutions – focus on the need
From what seems science fiction, Organovo has developed a 3D bioprinting technology that can create fully functional human tissues; winning numerous innovation awards, including recognition by Time and MIT Technology Review. Organovo’s 3D human tissues better recapitulate human biology, a critical need for advancing medical research and improving patient care.
Organovo’s 3D bioprinting platform has built a number of tissue types including blood vessels, lung, liver and kidney tissues, nerve guides and cardiac sheets and patches. The technology is able to architect, without the use of scaffolding, 3 dimensional anatomically correct tissues with integrated microvasculature that can respond to biomechanical and soluble stimuli. This structural organization of the multiple cell types typical to tissue composition results in tissue-level responses and physiologic processes found in native biology.
These tissue constructs have many applications including disease modeling, discovering new drug candidates, testing therapeutics for safety and efficacy and investigating complex human biology questions. Ultimately, this technology offers the opportunity to create tissues used as direct therapies.
Innovation is a team effort
Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology was pioneered by Professor Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri, who is also Organovo’s scientific founder. To advance the technology to a commercial product, Organovo selected Invetech as their technology development partner because of their sophisticated engineering and automation expertise that protected Organovo’s intellectual property, allowing Organovo to focus on its’ key competency in cell biology.
Because 3D bioprinting has so many applications, an important component of Organovo’s strategy resides in developing partner relationships. The company currently has collaborations with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, and leading research institutions, including Harvard Medical School and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.
Innovation doesn’t just happen in the lab
Organovo recently went public with a $15.2 million private placement and is listed on OTCQB under the symbol “ONVO.” The company was initially funded with angel money and grants.
During this event, Keith Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Organovo, shared some of his insight into the mindset for becoming a successful start-up business owner and what should be part of an entrepreneur’s toolkit.
His tips include:
Take what is around you and find the best possible application for those tools
Plan to weather the storm in your personal finances
Realize that failure is an option but that’s ok, it can be riskier to stay in your comfort zone forever
The best opportunity for angel funding comes from references from your existing network
The four most important words for a successful entrepreneur: network, partners, money, team (not necessarily in this order)
Watch where you are watching
Invetech shared the story about “The Invisible Gorilla Experiment.” If you have not seen it, click here to view the video and read more about the experiment. Invetech’s point about innovation is to make sure that when you focus on the details, you must also take a step back to focus on the big picture. Otherwise, you may miss something…something that could be the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.
Here at SDBN we’ve been updating our directory of 400+ San Diego biotech companies. We were surprised to find close to 40 companies removed from the local scene – due to acquisition or shut down. But we also found a net gain in companies, with 68 added. We’ve begun to add some of the ‘provenances’ of new companies, as well as what’s happened to those that are no longer listed, and welcome your comments and additions as well, please leave them as a comment below. Note that some companies are not new, we just missed them in our original directory and wanted to feature them in this post.
Updates to San Diego Biotechnology Company Directory
A recent report suggests evidence that the San Diego biotech scene is going strong. Released in December 2011 the Life Sciences Cluster Report by Jones Lang LaSalle rates San Diego #7 in the global biotech clusters. The report examines global locations for viable industry hubs, and defines a “cluster” by a multiple data points including:
Venture and investment capital
Centers of excellence and innovation
Industry-friendly political structures
Institutions of higher learning
Target economic development incentives
Other associations and supporting infrastructure
Ranking in the top 10 for funding – third in VC and sixth for NIH funding – it seems that the money is rolling in for San Diego. The 97-page study says San Diego’s dense concentration of incubator and start-ups is expected to continue growth in the near future.
Each of the submarkets reviewed – UTC, Torrey Pines, Sorrento Mesa, and Sorrento Valley – experienced growth in 2011, aside from Sorrento Mesa being almost completely leased. The report forecasts continued recovery in rents, vacancies tightening and, due to a lack of new development, re-positioning of older properties to meet demands for higher quality facilities, particularly in Sorrento Mesa.
Additionally, Torrey Pines, San Diego’s largest submarket, has seen a resurgence of growth, with more life science companies acquiring larger spaces. The report states that in 2011 Verenium signed a deal larger than Torrey Pines has seen in two years.
NIH grants have increased 28 percent from 2010 and by 70 percent from 2008. The outlook is sunny for San Diego in 2012, with a continued increase expected in the number of start-ups and dispersal of capital from venture capital and government funds.