If you want to get a big job done quickly, you can't do it yourself. That's the first thing Breca Tracy, Ph.D. and director of business development at Oklahoma City-based Caisson Biotech LLC, said when we asked her about Caisson's experience at the 2012 BIO International Convention.
Tracy knows what she is talking about. Caisson is doing a masterful job of carrying out a strategy of building partnerships to speed its technology's time to market. The company's momentum accelerated when Caisson signed a development licensing agreement with Novo Nordisk, a global health care company. The anticipated value of the agreement is more than $100 million.
“BIO was a phenomenal experience,” Tracy said. “We were booked back to back with meetings each day. Caisson has an incredible, differentiated technology with the potential to be of great value for a safer alternative drug delivery system. The agreement with Novo Nordisk provides commercial validation of our platform, which has helped accelerate Caisson's commercial presence in drug delivery.”
Creating and growing a successful bioscience company requires reputable science, an ear for the market and the ability to explain the technology's potential and capabilities clearly.
“A scientist may have a breakthrough technology with unrealized commercial applications, but if a prospective partner or customer doesn't understand how it could be harnessed and developed into a new, enhanced or improved product, the discovery has a decreased chance of making it to the market. Science itself isn't enough to sell it,” Tracy said.
Caisson founder Paul DeAngelis, a researcher, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center professor and serial entrepreneur, sees a growing biotech community in Oklahoma that will require more investment capital and a larger, more qualified work force.
“In the absence of EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) funding, there are fewer resources available for our scientists and for startup companies, resources that are necessary to get a venture off the ground,” DeAngelis said. At the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and other local academic institutions, “there are plenty of bright people and innovative ideas in Oklahoma, but without money and staffing, they will have a difficult time moving forward.”
Creating wealth by commercializing science can be challenging. But the potential payoff is huge if the state's elected officials, business and community leaders and early-stage investors stay in the game.
Tom Walker is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. Contact Walker at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Most of Oklahoma's bioscience patents in the past six years were in biochemistry, drugs and pharmaceuticals and surgical and medical instruments.