IN THE KNOW: FEBRUARY, 2020
Dear Members and Friends:
NMBio members consistently tell me that impactful, high-quality networking is one of the most valuable benefits of joining the association. Our events, programs and speakers are selected with the goal of providing members and prospects with new, strategic connections. Our annual Meet the Board event on Monday, February 17 is one of our marque social/networking events. Please register today to meet and mingle with our new and returning board members as well as celebrate NMBio’s 20th birthday at Gravitate! in downtown Albuquerque. A tip of the hat and thank you to Board Chair Rick VanNess for organizing this event. REGISTER NOW
As most of you know, another one of the association’s top priorities is to serve as the industry advocate for the life sciences with our state legislators and our Congressional delegation. Our areas of focus include:
- Incentives to Nurture The Growth of Our Life Science Startups
- Increase Access to Public and Private Capital
- Strengthen Workforce Development and Talent Recruitment
- Preserve Intellectual Property Protection
- Repeal of The Medical Device Tax
- Ensure Access to Safe Medicines
- Equitable Regulation of Drug Pricing and Transparency
In the current NM legislative session our top priorities have focused on supporting Senate Bill 61 (SB-61): https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/20%20Regular/bills/senate/SB0061.pdf It seeks a $50 million appropriation from the general fund to finance the Bioscience Development Fund in fiscal year 2021. This initiative is being led by the NM Bioscience Authority and its board chairman, Dr. Richard Larson, who also serves on our board. Other NMBio board members that serve on the NM BSA include Stuart Rose, Thomas Kieft and myself (and soon to be board member Myrriah Tomar).
Senate Bill 1 (SB-1: wholesale prescription drug importation) is the second bill we’re following closely: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/20%20Regular/Amendments_In_Context/SB0001.pdf
We’ve been urging legislators to scrutinize and, yes, oppose this bill. I sent a letter and attended the hearing held by members of the House of Representatives Healthcare Committee on Friday. The letter included these comments from Board Member Wayne Laslie:
“We must oppose this drug importation bill,” is Wayne’s urgent and fact-based message to us and NM residents. Wayne, is former CEO and current board member of Zocere, Inc., has more than 30 years of experience in pharmaceutical commercialization. “I have personally witnessed how these fraudulent drugs can be packaged in a pharma pack that looks legit but is not. At Pfizer, we uncovered an “antiparasitic drug” in a Pfizer-looking package (logo and all) that, when we analyzed it, it was talc pressed into “tablets.” “It’s dangerous stuff. If they start bringing these fraudulent drugs into the US, it’s a disaster,” he said.
“It’s bad enough with the FDA not being able to do surprise inspections on currently accepted generic houses in India or China and poor quality generics coming into the US, but when there is wholesale importation from all over the world it would be a pending health disaster.” he said. “Unfortunately, governments only see dollar signs; they don’t know about quality. If you want to read a scary book on the legitimate generic drug industry and the recent generic drug boom, read “Bottle of Lies” by Katherine Eban, an investigative reporter not associated with the drug industry. It will make you not want a generic substitution for a name brand. The price difference is not worth the gamble,” he warned.
We ‘ve been joined by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), PhRMA, and governmental affairs representatives from J&J, Amgen, Novo Nordisk, Bristol Myers Squibb and others.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with Deborah Breitfeld, the Executive Director of the NM Technology Council and Mary Tieman, the association’s Director of Community Relations and Membership Development. We’ve agreed to increase our collaborative efforts and cross-promote our respective events to one another’s members. In addition, if you attend one of NM Tech Council’s events, you can register for the member rate. Their members will receive the same discounted fees if they attend an NMBio event. We’ll also look for additional collaborative opportunities as the year progresses.
Please cast your vote for NMBio’s board members by February 17. NMBio’s nominating committee is expanding the board by three members and has recommended the election of Myrriah Tomar, Director, Office of Science and Technology, NM Economic Development Department; Paul Laur, Director of Corporate Development, Pebble Labs; and TJ Cook, Executive Director ABQid.
Half of our board members are elected on an annual basis. Sitting on the sidelines this year are: Mary Mason, Sandia Labs; Anthony Redondo, Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation, Los Alamos National Labs; Lisa Kuuttila, STC-UNM; Brian Shank, Novo Nordisk; Thomas Kieft, New Mexico Tech; Michael Vickers, Mass Biolabs; Terry Dunlay, serial entrepreneur; David Lee, consultant; Richard VanNess, Tricore Reference Labs; Darlene Harbour, Lovelace Scientific Resources.
Return your ballot to me by email (sorry, no apps), by February 17. Your vote counts. We need a 25% membership return for the election to be valid.
Innovate, Plan, Experiment, and Pilot Something New
The Regional Engagement Challenge is a new opportunity for New Mexico organizations working to cultivate New Mexico’s technology based ecosystem. This new sponsorship initiative, funded by the Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos National Laboratory, encourages the exploration and implementation of new methods to increase technology commercialization, stimulate new business startups, attract entrepreneurs, create alternative job opportunities, and attract businesses and capital to the region.
Organizations will be able to request sponsorship through a simple application outlining funding requested how the funds will be used, the goals of this use, and how the requestor will measure and assess outcomes and successes. Interested organizations must submit letters of intent by Feb 18, 2020 and proposals by March 2, 2020. Notification of funding decisions will be by March 16, 2020. Available funding: up to $75,000 total is available to fund all proposals. All proposals should be one-time events or be sustainable without additional FCI support (e.g., new program designs).
FCI hopes the Regional Engagement Challenge will help New Mexico create a stronger network for New Mexico technology businesses and stimulate economic growth in the science and technology sectors. Specific questions about this challenge should be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome New Member: BioFlyte
BioFlyte is a venture-backed biodefense and microbial identification company that is commercializing a revolutionary new class of fieldable biological mass spectrometers, according to CEO Charles Call. “Our instruments identify airborne microbes, proteins and lipids, and can be used to screen for infectious disease and other bio-threats. The company’s innovative and patent-pending time of flight mass spec technology dramatically lowers cost-of-ownership relative to the biomolecular reagent-based systems currently deployed for biodefense applications,” he said. “Our instrument’s high sensitivity enables fully-automated and near real-time identification of bio-threats in operational environments. Our approach leverages decades of development surrounding the molecular basis of pathogenic organisms and biological toxins,” stressed Call.
BioFltye is a new spin-out of Zeteo Tech, which has been operating in Albuquerque and Sykesville, MD for six years developing the mass spec technology. The U.S. Department of Defense is funding the development of BioFlyte’s miniaturized, low-cost, low-power mass spectrometer technology for the identification of aerosolized bio-threats in near real-time. The firm’s current application focus is critical infrastructure protection.
The innovative and patent-pending time-of-flight mass spec technology developed by Zeteo will dramatically lower instrument cost and size relative to the MALDI instruments used globally in the clinical diagnostics market today. “Our instrument’s high sensitivity will enable near real-time screening for disease at the point-of-care, without culturing or other means of signal amplification,” Call said. Zeteo Tech has been supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the development and translation of innovative new products for patient screening based on respired air.
Most health startups fail. Why?
The attrition rate for startups is high. That’s especially true for fledgling health-adjacent companies, according to the folks over at MedTech Innovator, a global competition and accelerator in this sector. They outline 10 reasons in a new First Opinion for STAT.
Among the reasons: Picking the wrong CEO, or staying in stealth mode too long — a trend often seen among biotechs in particular.
Direct-to-consumer models also end up complicating matters for startups. Most consumers, outside of a smattering of early adopters, will be reticent to pay for anything out-of-pocket — so consumer health startups switch directions and opt for the regulated route. But many are invariably too late — and run out of cash before insurers get involved.
THE SPINOFF PRIZE, DEADLINE TO APPLY, FEBRUARY 28
Applications are now being accepted for The Spinoff Prize — a new award for early stage university spinoff companies from around the world.
The Spinoff Prize has been established by Nature Research in partnership with Merck to showcase and celebrate global excellence in the commercialization of research through the creation of spinoff companies.
The Spinoff Prize aims to encourage and give visibility to academic entrepreneurs and their companies. The judging panel will look for spinoffs that translate original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that address market problems and are well positioned to make a positive impact on society.
In its first year, The Spinoff Prize will focus on companies commercializing research in four broad categories: pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemicals and digital technologies. A long list of highly commended spin-offs will be profiled in a special report published in Nature. Shortlisted spinoffs will pitch in front of a live audience at the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference, after which one winner will receive a €30,000 cash prize.
Brex, The Corporate Card for the Life Sciences
Brex, the Corporate Credit Card for the Life Sciences, is designed to empower its life sciences customers to spend less time on end of month closes and more time on life changing R&D. The card offers its customers streamlined reporting functions, rewards and unmatched controls including; no personal guarantee requirements, higher limits than traditional credit cards, instant creation of virtual cards, automatic receipt capture and, tailored rewards such as 3x points multipliers on lab equipment. Points can be redeemed as cash back to pay down statement balance, book travel, or transfer miles to select partner airlines.
NMBio members qualify for the following:
- 60,000 point signup bonus ($600 value)
- Waived card fees for life ($60 p/card p/year)
- Tailored rewards and points with 3x on lab supplies, 7x on conference registrations, and 4x on travel
- 5-minute application process (completely online) with instant access to virtual cards
- No personal guarantee or collateral requirements