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BIO show investment seeds long-term growth for Oklahoma

By Jim Stafford, For The Oklahoman Published: June 21, 2014
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Oklahoma’s life science community will establish an outpost in San Diego this week at the Biotechnology Industry Organization annual convention, complete with a 1,600-square-foot exhibition booth and sentries posted at every corner.

The flow of visitors past the Oklahoma booth will bring people from virtually every state and scores of nations around the world. The 80 or so Oklahomans attending the show greet potential research and business partners, investors and even employees.

The payoff for Oklahoma comes in a myriad of ways.

Just don’t expect overnight returns from the investment made by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the OKBio Association, which organize the annual foray to the BIO show. It’s a long-term commitment that results in enhanced stature for the state and increased potential for its biotech companies.

“You never know the impact for the future,” said Tom Kupiec, a scientist and businessman who is founder and CEO of three Oklahoma City-based life science companies: DNA Solutions, Analytical Research Laboratories (ARL) and The Kupiec Group.

“I think it’s important to plant seeds for future development and for future growth,” Kupiec said. “Being shortsighted and thinking immediate gratification is not always the best. The state, by putting dollars into research and science and technology, you really are building the economy for the future.”

Kupiec’s companies provide pharmaceutical and genetic testing services, as well as forensic toxicology expertise.

Kupiec has enthusiastically worked the floor of the BIO show on behalf of Oklahoma almost every year for more than a decade. One year he came face to face with a young college student from Oklahoma who paid his way into the show in search of a potential job. Kupiec promised him a job interview upon returning to Oklahoma.

Another year, Kupiec met a potential employee while sharing a taxi with her on the ride in from the airport. The next day, he interviewed her for a job while the pair were seated at a table at the OKBio booth on the floor of the show.

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