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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


WV Bio Summit Attendees Receive Experience, Advice, Inspiration

BioWV LogoThe more than 100 attendees of the Fifth Annual West Virginia Bioscience Summit, which took place April 21-22 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia, were the beneficiaries of the event’s expert presenters’ experience, advice and inspiration on moving the state’s life science economy forward.

The two-day event featured discussion on strategies to move innovative research from concept to market, tactics for giving the perfect funding pitch, recommendations for successfully building and growing companies, and initiatives taking place at West Virginia’s research universities to spur the entrepreneurial economy.


WVU President E. Gordon Gee

WVU President E. Gordon Gee, in his usual high-energy fashion, motivated the group to do all that is necessary to bring innovation to life in West Virginia.  He highlighted WVU’s commitment to moving the state forward, and complimented Marshall University and other state institutions of higher education for their role in facilitating entrepreneurial activity.

Clay Marsh, executive dean of Health Sciences at WVU offered an inspirational presentation outlining the opportunities West Virginia offers for spurring innovation that helps the state’s population while growing jobs.

In a column he published after attending the Bio Summit, he states, “Working together to tangibly improve the health of our citizens, could we promote a knowledge economy and elevate the state?  We have the talent and commitment to make this better future a reality. Even more,

Vice President & Executive Dean, Health Sciences, WVU, Dr. Clay Marsh

Vice President & Executive Dean, Health Sciences, WVU, Dr. Clay Marsh

the state needs us to do this – to flip reality and make West Virginia a magnet for entrepreneurial talent.”

To read Marsh’s column, click here.

Dietrich Stephan, serial entrepreneur and chair of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, shared his fascinating story on the motivations, processes and challenges with starting and operating biotech companies.  He encouraged researchers and entrepreneurs to tackle real world issues, identify a solution and commercialize it for everyone’s benefit.

Angel investor Pravin Chaturvedi, president of IndUS Pharmaceuticals and a WVU alumnus, offered an unvarnished perspective on the traits life science companies must possess to grow and thrive.

Representatives from West Virginia biotech firms – to include the Blanchette Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, CereDx and Cordgenics – discussed their business model, position in the market and future plans.  These firms are successfully moving forward – developing their products and services and leading the charge innovation development in our state.

Steve Turner, chief executive officer of Morgantown’s Protea Bioscience, provided the “do’s and don’ts” when making a pitch for funding.  “Know who you are, know what you want and make your case succinctly”, were his primary recommendations.  And, in a company update, Turner noted that Protea is in the process of acquiring VivoPharm – a contract research organization that compliments Protea’s existing business model.

Mylan’s Dave Gillogly and Novartis’ Vadim Paluy discussed the importance of clinical trials in moving new products from bench to bedside and outlined the main characteristics their companies look for when evaluating potential trial venues.  Allie Karshenas, director of the WVU Clinical & Pharmacologic Research Center, provided insight on how his organization works with pharma companies to effectively conduct clinical trials.

John Maher, director of the Marshall University Research Corporation, and Richard Giersch, associate director of Venture Development at WVU, outlined their organization’s focus and commitment to identifying commercializable research and layering the assistance necessary to bring it to market.

Life Science Research Showcase

Life Science Research Showcase

In an effort to highlight research taking place at universities across the state, the event featured the Life Science Research Showcase – a poster session event where more than 20 faculty-led research teams presented their research.  Conducted in a reception format, the event afforded a unique networking opportunity where researchers, funders and others shared ideas and advice.

With an eye to moving the innovation economy forward, Larry Malone, policy director for Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and Rob Alsop, vice president for legal and governmental affairs and entrepreneurial engagement at WVU, shared strategies for capitalizing on the life science activity occurring in the state and at WVU.  Chief among their recommendations is to spur entrepreneurial activity throughout the state.

The event, which is growing larger each year, received support from a host of major life science organizations and partners, to include: BIO, Mylan, West Virginia University, Amgen, Pfizer, Fisher Scientific, PhRMA, Protea, TechConnectWV, Steptoe & Johnson, and the WV Clinical & Translational Science Institute.

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