BioNorthTX, a new biotech/life sciences non-profit trade association, incorporated as a 501 c (6) Trade Association in February of this year, held its inaugural executive roundtable event on November 20.
The organization’s mission is to foster an environment in North Texas supportive of life science research, innovation and commercialization in order to increase the region’s competitiveness as a premier global location for biotechnology, biomedical research, education, and industry, and to position North Texas as a sought-out place to live and work.
At the organization’s first meeting, BioNorth Texas cofounders Chris Comish of BioNews Services, David Foster of Roberts Foster, LLP and Kay Tieman of TriNet, committed the group’s efforts to addressing the perceived “regional gap,” connecting resources for productivity, serving the North Texas life sciences community, and furthering its development as a life sciences hub. “BioNorthTX will play an important role in raising the profile of D-FW’s life sciences field, both in the United States and beyond,” said Mr. Comish in a BioNorthTX press release. “Through marketing and public affairs outreach, we will help both economic development agencies and the rest of our industry know everything the region has to offer.”
The leadership team cites North Texas’ favorable business climate, with biotech and life sciences already valued as a $1.3B industry in the region, superb academic and research institutions, world-class medical schools and large agricultural and veterinary industries, all of which optimally positions North Texas for continued biotech sector growth. For example, globally-recognized life sciences-related companies such as Irving’s Kimberly-Clark Corp., Novartis’ Alcon unit in Fort Worth, and Frisco-based Greatbatch Inc. all have substantial footprints in the North Texas region.
In Dallas, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center leads the region in R&D spending, appropriating $404.3 million to research and development efforts in fiscal year 2013 alone, according to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s 2013 Texas biotechnology report. UT Southwestern’s contributions to groundbreaking life science research as well as the Center’s commitment to world-class clinical care are well-documented on BioNews Texas.
A common theme referenced by attendees was the need to attract talent and build awareness of the industry in North Texas, highlighted by a lively, open discussion among the group about the region’s need for this type of organization. “We are here today to begin the process of changing lives in North TX through the convergence — the coming together of our great science, and stakeholders in this market” noted BioNorthTX co-founder Kay Tieman in her opening remarks. Mrs. Tieman, who has an extensive background in the biotech industry dating back to the 1980s. “Most efforts to bring industry together for substantive partnering, education, and networking have ceased . . . there is no longer one organization with a central focus on the life science industry in North Texas.”
“In general,” Mrs. Tieman said, “executives and industry leaders must rely on the efforts coming out of Austin and Houston or their own efforts to connect and collaborate.
“Today,” she stated, “that changes…. North Texas has all of the right elements to be an ecosystem that rises to the stature of other life science clusters in the U.S. and Texas. We formed BioNorthTX in February this year to provide mechanisms that support these elements and to encourage cluster development. We will now leverage the current ecosystem to begin to build upon the past.”
Mrs. Tieman introduced new BioNorthTX President and CEO J.J. Spegele, who Mrs. Tieman and Mssrs. Foster and Comish met at the annual Texas Healthcare & Bioscience Institute (THBI) BioSummit last July, noting that Mr. Spegele had immediately begun assisting them with development of the business plan unveiled at the roundtable. Mr. Spegele was asked to join BioNorthTX and lead the charge in taking the organization forward — leading the 15-member board of working directors representing the entire North Texas biotech community (institution, commercial, university, incubators and VCs) and a small operating Executive Committee for planning and execution of the organization’s agenda. Mr. Spegele has deep experience in the biopharma/contract research space in leadership roles with Ely Lily, Covance and Quintiles, and was actively involved as a volunteer leader in building the GeorgiaBio organization. “The D-FW region’s life sciences field is a hidden gem,” said Spegele. “Yet few people know about it.” The organization also will feature an Advisory Board of non-voting, but influential life science and community leaders.
The organization has set forth an ambitious agenda and defines its goals as:
- Serve our members as the centralized clearinghouse for ‘all things’ life sciences in North Texas, as well as promote collaboration between industry stakeholders, academic institutions, incubators and economic development entities.
- Promote access to capital and education around capital especially for early-stage and university-based technology innovations.
- Provide membership services to improve access to resources necessary for the growth of life science companies. For example, this may include access to facilities, equipment, laboratories, distribution services and discounted supplies and/or services purchasing programs.
- Support local workforce development through educational programing to attract, train, and retain life-sciences talent. We will also make available information about all programs and workforce opportunities in North Texas.
- Provide a platform for marketing and communications of the assets of the North Texas region’s life science industry, be the regional voice regarding legislative and FDA concerns that impact the health and well-being of our industry.
BioNorthTX is a member of the state life sciences community, with nearly 30 partner organizations identified including UTA, UTSW and UNT research centers; THBI and regional Bio associations;
State and Regional development organizations (Health Wildcatters, Arlington Center for Innovation, Texas Life Science Collaboration Center and many more). These alliances support mutual collaboration and create opportunities for reciprocity.
Businesses, organizations, and institutions interested in joining BioNorthTX can find more information at: