Oregon Bioscience Association held the Biotech Summit on Oct. 28, 2019, aiming to create substantive economic development and policy goals for the coming years. Oregon’s bioscience industry, comprising more than 800 companies, labs, research institutions and supply chain firms, promotes public policies fostering job creation, company recruitment, innovation and health access, Oregon Bio’s advocacy platform comprises four key elements:
- Accelerate and Improve Oregon’s Environment for Biotechnology and Life Science Companies
- Foster Collaboration Between Industry Experts and Government Leaders
- Support Expansion of a Highly-Skilled, Diverse Workforce
- Maintain Access and Encourage Adherence to Health Care Products and Services
With these strategies at the fore, Oregon Bio convened key attendees, including elected officials, economic development directors, university/academic leaders, company C–Suite executives, investors and patient advocates. The successful summit sought to engage leaders from Oregon and Southwest Washington around developing targeted strategies and how to overcome challenges in the economic development sector and around topics of access/innovation.
Uniquely, this year’s summit sought to engage key opinion leaders from not only Oregon/statewide, but also including the regional perspective from Southwest Washington and Vancouver, Washington. Elected officials in attendance included Washington state Rep. Sharon Wylie (D- Dist. 49), Washington state Senator Ann Rivers (Repub.), Washington state Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Dist. 39), Oregon state Rep. Daniel Bonham (R-Dist. 59), and Oregon state Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Dist. 22).
Attendees heard brief presentations by some of the area’s leading biotech, digital health and life science companies around the state and in Southwest Washington including Curadite, Genentech, Bio-Med, Biotronik/MSEI, Grace Bio-Labs, Rezolute Bio, AbSci and UbiVac.
Attendees integrated these presentations as a springboard for active tabletop discussions around increasing the bio sector’s success. We heard companies’ concerns including incumbent workforce readiness for technical, manufacturing and research jobs; cultivation of the next generation of technical, engineering and scientific workers; challenges to transportation, exportation and movement of goods and peripherals to/from and around the region; consensus around specific growth strategies and need for infrastructure improvements such as cost-effective startup space and more wet lab space; need for expanded private and equity investments; and availability of sector investments and economic/financial incentives from both public and private sources.
Access and innovation were the other key topics affording attendees opportunities to discuss how the local industry is defined and shaped around advancing commercialization. Intel around strategies and access was shared among participants including how increased access to care and innovation may occur; how patient needs and access might help shape the sector’s policy positions; how access to capital funds spurs innovation and keeps R&D in the region; how partnerships are relevant to better patient outcomes; and what specific ideas, programs and policies must be prioritized to improve access and create opportunities for innovation.
In 2020, our advocacy team and participating Association members will be strategizing our policy platform based on this excellent discussion.