Amidst all of the challenges the recent past and present have brought to our personal and professional lives, life science innovation marches on. The healthcare system has survived (for now) the epic stress test presented by Covid-19, thanks in no small part to the miracle of new, swiftly developed vaccines and the heroic efforts of providers across the globe.
Given the volume and quality of institutions and assets for healthcare and life science innovation that the southeastern United states possesses, what will our contribution to the future be?
Southeast Life Science’s Co-Chairs Scott McCarty, Director, Silicon Valley Bank and Lee Burnes, SVP of R&D for Avanos Medical, shared their vision for the organization in 2022 and beyond with Write2Market’s Paul Snyder in the following Q&A.
What is your vision for the near and long term future of Southeast Life Sciences?
“Having moved here to the Southeast from New England to lead R&D at Avanos several years ago, I have been extremely encouraged by the talent and innovative culture that exists in the region. As Scott noted, in the near term we will continue to leverage our flagship AdvanSE event to foster life science innovation and investment in the region.”
“Longer term I see Southeast Life Sciences as not only having the premier conference in the Southeast for investor partnering but also well known for a cadence of events supporting diversity and inclusion focused on future leaders in life sciences including SE Color, Women@SLS and young innovators just getting started in their careers as well”.
“In the seven years I’ve served on the board, the organization has morphed to include the best in breed bioscience and medtech leadership on our board of directors. In the near-term, we will continue to reinforce our flagship event, AdvanSE, as the go-to event in the region for the healthcare innovation economy, bar none. We will continue to connect the ecosystem, fostering innovation and encouraging early-stage companies to give the southeast a very close examination when the time comes for them to establish their physical headquarters no matter how disparate, flexible or virtual their teams may be.
“In the mid to long-term, we will be the connector for the innovation economy that connects those with great ideas and technologies, ready for their first or next funding opportunity not only to good capital, but to every other resource needed to grow.”
What more is needed and from whom to realize that vision?
“In the simplest terms, we need more wet lab space, more local innovation clusters like the newly announced Global Health Innovation District and Raleigh’s Research Triangle Park, and we need more executive talent for recruitment that generates meaningful interest from investors across the country like our team at Silicon Valley Bank.”
“Agree with Scott, we need more build out of the innovation ecosystems and the continued increasing involvement of all the stakeholders in the region.”
Where do you feel are the greatest opportunities for life sciences in the southeast, particularly for investors?
“The highly educated workforces throughout the region will continue to be a big draw. A great example is the Triangle area of NC, where Apple and Google have recently declared plans to establish major engineering hubs. The Medtech and Healthcare Information capabilities that continue to be developed through strengthened ecosystems and incubators are a great opportunity. In addition, the strong emphasis on bio labs and bio-manufacturing has the ability to establish the southeast to be one of the key bio-manufacturing hubs for the nation.”
“There are fantastic opportunities in genetic editing and therapy solutions in North Carolina including companies growing out of the NC BioLabs incubator in Durham. There are also fantastic opportunities in HIT and medtech companies in Nashville and Atlanta due to the high concentration of talent and ecosystem assets that steadily breed promising new companies.
“The perception that there isn’t sufficient venture capital in the southeast for life science innovation persists. We want that to change. We know good capital finds good technologies wherever they exist. We want to foster those connections, especially through AdvanSE, which always delivers outstanding content as well.”
What about opportunities for the innovators?
“Regardless of their therapeutic area or ‘sector’ within the life sciences, innovators and young life science companies should connect with us early and often. We are here to help them. They have the opportunity to use our expertise and networks for introductions, support, talent, evaluations and potentially their next funding round. Get with us for your intro, evaluation, next round. If they need people, support or talent, come to us! Investment is going more places on an increasing basis than many innovators might know.”
What would you like readers to do in support of that vision?
“Get active and get in touch. Activity. Join the next Women@SLS event, follow Southeast Life Sciences on LinkedIn and Twitter. Tell us your story. Tell us your goals and needs. Put AdvanSE 2022, May 25 – 27 in Atlanta on your calendar and assign a small amount of time and treasure to it.”
“I look forward to connecting with everyone on social media and at our conference in May.”
Parting shot: If readers took just one thing away from this, what should it be?
“The southeast life science ecosystem has everything innovators need to succeed with lower costs of living and doing business than the legacy hubs of the northeast and California. Southeast Life Sciences is your connector. Get in touch and stay in touch.”
“The Southeast is also where a large portion of the patients are in the USA. What better place to do life sciences Innovation?”