Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on April 12, 2013

Keynote Address:

Baiju Shah

After spending a decade building BioEnterprise into a nationally admired model for boosting biotech activities in a region, Baiju Shah is now tackling an even larger challenge: bridging the "valley of death" between drug discoveries in the lab and commercially viable pharmaceutical products.

He explained the challenging situation at the April OVA luncheon. "About 100 million Americans suffer from diseases for which we have no suitable cure," he said. And the nation's pharmaceutical industry isn't up to the challenge, at least as it's currently arranged.

The numbers tell the story. In 1996, 56 new drugs were approved by the Food & Drug Administration, the result of $25 billion spent on basic drug research and development by the National Institutes of Health and private industry. By 2011, that spending had more than doubled, to just over $60 billion, and yet it yielded only 30 new drugs.

"So we've doubled the amount we're spending and cut in half the number of new products coming out because of that spending. And that's the paradoxical situation we find ourselves in that people refer to as the valley of death. It's not because of lack of scientific discovery, but the lack of translation. The model that we relied on for all years to take those discoveries forward into products for all of us proved to be commercially unfeasible." He was careful to note that this involves only the biotech niche, not the medical devices field nor the larger healthcare industry.

"We looked at this problem in Cleveland by a researcher at University Hospitals by the name of Dr. Jonathan Stamler and decided there had to be a different solution, a different approach," he said. Out of that analysis came the Harrington Project, "which is a $250-million national initiative that seeks to accelerate these discoveries from institutions all around the country into new medicines that benefit patients."

The project has three parts. The University Hospitals Harrington Discovery Institute and the National Innovation Support Center are the nonprofit side. Together, they identify promising breakthrough discoveries anywhere in the country with great clinical and commercial possibilities and then support leading researchers on commercialization efforts.

BioMotiv, which Shah oversees, represents the for-profit side. "I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of venture groups or venture-like groups that are interested in pre-clinical stage projects in the United States. There's almost no commercial outlet, which is why we've created a mission-aligned for-profit with a different model. BioMotive is in some ways similar to a venture group, but it is an operating company that takes licensed technologies that we select, whether coming from the Harrington Project or other sources, and we use our advisory board to select the most promising technologies to advance them to products with clinical proof of efficacy."

Since it began in earnest about seven months ago, he said, BioMotive has looked at about 150 potential projects, and has identified the first seven in which it wants to invest.

More information:

Webcast from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.

Video Webcast from Recent Meeting
Webcasts produced by Tom Kondilas.

OVA's Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to offer an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/video-archive.html.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • June 14, 2013
    Venture of the Year

See complete details and registration for these events.

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