Thursday, November 29, 2012

BioBash Austin Winter 2012

Dr. Matt Winkler
Dr. Paul Lammers
The Austin Chamber’s BioAustin Winter BioBash was held on November 28 at the Driskill Hotel.  About 150 of us celebrated the history of life sciences here in Central Texas with a keynote address from Dr. Matt Winkler, the chairman and CEO of Asuragen.  He was followed by Dr. Paul Lammers chairman and CEO at Mirna Therapeutics.  Mirna (from “micro RNA”), founded by Winkler, is a third-generation daughter of Ambion which Winkler created in 1989 while at the University of Texas and sold in 2005 to the Applied Biosystems Group of Applera and is now a Life Technologies label.

I first met Kyle Schulz of the Round Rock Chamber. He was there on behalf of Austin Community College, seeking to place their biotechnology students in internships with companies.  He found Maggie Bishop for me.  Maggie is with the Austin Chamber and is active on the Austin Biotech group on LinkedIn. She was the emcee for the event. (She is also on the committee to coordinate the creation of the new medical center here.)

UT researcher Scott Rynbrandt with Dr. Simona Perra.
Perra's expertise is the legal regulation of medical devices.
Standing together at a table, were Gail Darling of Gail Darling Staffing who brought her experience in federal contracting, and Nancy Goedeke whose MedMarComm provides marketing and communication services, Jason Choyce of DPR Construction, which specializes in complex projects for advanced technologies, and Kevin Fincher, a tax partner with Padgett Strateman.

Later, Gail introduced me to Stephen Frayser, the new executive director of Texas State University’s STAR Park. The 38-acre Science Technology and Advanced Research Park opened officially on November 9 to provide secure wet labs, clean rooms, and office space.

Not everyone we met had business cards.  (I ran out quickly.  After the Technical Writer cards, I was down to the Criminologist introductions.  I even gave out my Capital City Coin Club Vice President cards.)  And we met a lot of graduate and post graduate students working in university and private labs. 

Our last contacts were a trio from the Austin Technology Incubutor: Mike A. Sandoval of the IC2 Institute, Dr. Lydia V. McClure, an Accenture Venture Partner with Texas Venture Labs at the McCombs School of Business, and Michael R. Pierce also an Accenture Venture Partner.  Earlier this year, the ATI announced the launch of two companies, Savara Pharmaceuticals, and Terapio, which markets the RPLI76 protein as a countermeasure to radiation exposure and chemical threats.  About 30 companies are now in the incubator, including Alafair Bioscience, Integrated Medical Systems, Inc., Admittance Technologies, and Xeris which makes ultra-low volume biopharmaceuticals in auto-injection pens.


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