Thursday, February 28, 2013

Biobash: Chamber Replicates Success

Kyle Cox of Health 2.0 and Austin Health Technology was the featured speaker as about 50 Austin life science professionals gathered at The Front Page in the penthouse of the Chase Tower, on February 27, sponsored by the Austin Chamber of Commerce. 

Kyle outlined the path to success for biotech in Austin. 
Maggie Bishop welcomes guests
and introduces Kyle Cox

“Be the best you you can be,” he said.  In other words, do not attempt to copy Silicon Valley, but capitalize on Austin’s own unique blend of strengths.  “Stress the roots,” he said, making an analogy to vinology.  Do not give out too many government subsidies; make firms earn their success.
  • To build an ecosystem requires a state of permanent revolution.
  • Favor the high potentials. Put resources into products that will pay back the most.
  • Get a big win on the board.  “Get some pelts on the wall,” he said.
  • Do not over-engineer the clusters but rather let them find their own paths to success. 
  • Reform the regulation.  Nora Belcher underscored this, saying that the growth of leading-edge biotech in Texas struggles against well-meaning legislation from 1978.  She also pointed out that Texas state regulations on privacy are stricter than HIPAA. 
Cox praised the meetups and online communities for life sciences here in Austin, touting the Austin Health Tech group on Meetup.com.  (Also on Meetup we have Austin Life Science Professionals, run by Benjamin Grosse-Siestrup.  They get together at the Renaissance Hotel in Arboretum.  Benjamin and I met at the previous Biobash, after I restarted the Austin Biotech group on LinkedIn.  Also on LinkedIn is a new Austin group for Drug Delivery technology, a spin-off of UT’s life science incubator.) 

Young man about 40 years old in casual clothes in front of a lecturn
Kyle Cox
Kyle Cox then called for a speaker series, hackathons, national events, and a local presence at trade shows.  The American Telemedicine Association is holding its annual convention in Austin, May 5-7.   On the subject of hackathons, Cox said that Humana is willing to give a copy of some of its databases to creative programmers who can show them new ways to understand their information; and a code-athon will be held at SXSW Interactive on March 8.  He identified three venture capital firms – Dream IT, Live Oak, and Corsa Ventures – with $100 million to invest.

The Office of the National Health Coordinator of Health and Human Services gave the University of Texas $2.77 million for their Health IT program which grants certificates and diplomas to people who learn how to use computers to track patients.  This was part of the federal economic stimulus package.

Before and after the presentation, Austin life science professionals enjoyed hors d’oeuvres - courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce - and the opportunity to sit and talk with each other about their interests.  Maggie Bishop of the Chamber made sure that I met Dr. Tim Meehan of Saber Astronautics.  (Tim and I actually met at Benjamin’s Meetup last month.)  I also met Samantha Fechtel, executive administrator of the Texas Medical Accelerator, Joe Smith director of technology innovation for Globiox, Jim and Sabine Accuntius whose Research Equipment Alliance is selling femto-second lasers for histology and similar research. (Calling them microtomes is three orders of magnitude too large.) Sharon Manley just joined Growth Acceleration Partners/Mobius as their new business development specialist.  Although we talk a lot about “cloud computing” most of our work is done on the ground, and so, Christopher L. Marchbanks from Cresa Austin (“The Tenants Advantage”) was also at the Biobash.

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