Biomedical economy grows behind collaboration, partnerships
In Ohio, life sciences companies are turning to each other and supporting industries to get devices and products to the market faster, expending fewer resources and reducing inefficiency. Collaboration is sought out as global demand for healthcare products and medical procedures rises due to an aging U.S. population and a rising middle class in populous countries like India and China.
"Open innovation and collaboration is a growing part of increased demand for services and ability to pay. There's a changing culture in the industry that one business can't do it all," explains BioOhio
President Tony Dennis. Dennis was among a half-dozen life sciences industry experts who spoke at the Blue Ash Life Sciences Collaborative
event in early November.
BioOhio is a leader in facilitating collaboration across the life sciences industry, connecting startups, researchers, and large Fortune 500 companies to grow Ohio's economy through innovation.
There are plenty of places to collaborate in developing medical products, treatments and devices. From research and development to commercialization, manufacturing and marketing, Ohio life sciences companies are working with each other to get more and better products into consumer's hands faster.
The Ohio Third Frontier
, the state's tech-based economic development initiative, has been a leader in fostering collaboration across the state, Dennis says. Ohio voters first approved the program in 2005, and in May 2010 voted to extend it through 2016 with a $700 million bond issue. Third Frontier dollars go to new and existing high-tech companies and research that prove they have the capacity, talent and drive to grow.
"The most fundamental principal (of Ohio Third Frontier) is that you had to partner. To get a grant you had to have a partner. It was trying to change the state's culture to make sure universities were linked with a commercial output," Dennis says.
So why do companies collaborate?
"Why partner? Somebody has something you need. It's really very simple," says Don Lucas, a retired associate director of alliances, acquisitions and licenses at Procter & Gamble. Lucas moderated a panel on collaboration at the Blue Ash Sciences event.
Partnerships occur because both companies are looking for something the other one has, whether that's technology, expertise, experience, credibility, marketing or money, Lucas adds.
In order for collaboration to succeed benefits can't be one way. Both partners have to get something out of the deal.
"The reality is most partnerships fail. Both have to get something out of it, both have to give something up," Lucas says.The life science company and the investment landscape
There are a variety of opportunities for collaboration for life sciences companies -- and the growing number of talented workers supporting them -- in almost every corner of the state. State initiatives like Third Frontier, as well as company incubators, increased funding university research funding and a growing venture capital culture have contributed to an explosion of life sciences companies.
Today there are 1,253 bioscience companies with a combined 1,628 locations in Ohio spread across 72 of the state's 88 counties, Dennis says. In the past 10 years the industry has realized 17.9 percent job growth, while a whole state job loss is at 4.2 percent.
In the past three years, 52 bioscience companies recruited to state have invested $1 billion here. Sources of private investment in these companies have grown too. In 2001, there were 12 sources of outside private investors; today there are 89.Collaboration in action
It seems natural that startup companies would collaborate. They're small and have limited resources. But collaboration isn't limited to small companies, some well-established companies are seeking out partners in innovation with great results.
Procter & Gamble's connect + develop
program seeks out partnerships with thousands of scientist, engineers and companies across the world to bring innovative products to consumers, including in the healthcare market. The company's connect + develop portal invites "anyone, anywhere" to submit an innovation to the company for partnership consideration.
Today more than half of P&G's innovation comes from outside sources, according to the company. Browse through the web portal now and you'll see requests for healthcare innovations including, new ingredients or products that lessen cold symptoms and home health and wellness diagnostic kits.
Also in southwest Ohio, medical device company Ethicon Endo-Surgery
currently is working with the University of Cincinnati's Medical Diseases Institute (MDI) to develop medical devices that improve the experience of patients undergoing bariatric surgery. The partnership also includes research from GI Metabolism Laboratory and Weight Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The plan is that research on how exactly bariatric surgery works will lead to the creation of better medical devices to conduct that surgery.
Mark Ortiz, principal engineer and MDI liaison director at Ethicon, spoke about the partnership, which started in 2007, during the Blue Ash Life Science Collaborative.
"If you ask someone how (bariatric surgery) works. No one can tell you exactly how it works. But we didn't have the resources (to figure it out)," which is why Ethicon decided to partner with MDI.
In 2009, a co-invention process began where that research went into developing products and procedures that are less invasive and just as effective.
"We have 10 approaches we're a looking at now," Ortiz says.
The collaboration is so successful that a solution could be found within the next year, and the partnership was extended three more years this summer, Ortiz says.