|Dear CURE Members,
This is an exciting time for Connecticut bioscience and CURE is playing an instrumental role. As an important driver of our state’s lifesciences, medical device, and healthcare community, we are actively broadening our impact into areas essential for the continued expansion of Connecticut’s bioscience and life sciences sectors.
We work to ensure that large and small companies, entrepreneurs, and mentors connect; that resources, talent, and experts convene; and that we build a robust, vibrant community. I am pleased to share a number of exciting developments and highlight some of our achievements as we move into my third year of leadership.
|Education, Entrepreneurship and Acceleration|
Recognizing the need to encourage STEM education (science, technology, engineering, math) and entrepreneurship, CURE draws upon the expertise of its members to offer enhanced programming and new formats in support of these goals.The BioscienceClubhouseCT, with generous support from Connecticut Innovations and CTNext, provides a forum for individuals and small startups to convene to discuss technology and business plans, exchange ideas, network, and support bioscience growth. Closing out 2015, we have produced 20 programs drawing over 1,150 registrants including academics, service providers and entrepreneurs. Bioscience ClubhouseCT kicks-off the year with a story of entrepreneurship within big pharma. We will learn what it takes to respond to an urgent call for an antibiotic with exceptional activity against a biodefense pathogen. As part of this series, many new start-up enterpreneurs will present their stories in the weeks ahead as well.The already popular monthly CURE/Yale BioHaven Entrepreneur Series continues to gain in appeal with programs featuring industry leaders such as Dr. George Weinstock, Professor and Associate Director, Microbial Genomics, Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, and Dr. Milind Deshpande, President and CEO of Achillion, as well as highly distinguished panels discussing subjects such as innovation in manufacturing technologies, venture capital in the life sciences, and the role of big data in healthcare. Our audiences include academics, investors, executives, and service providers, essentially a sampling of the state bioscience community. To date, our slate of 16 programs has drawn over 1,700 registrants, including students and faculty from our neighboring universities and community colleges. In 2016, BIOHAVEN has a line-up of presentations by such rapidly growing companies as Arvinas and Alexion.
The newly formed CURE and LEARN series focuses on the dissemination of new and industry-specific information on topics relevant to technologists, operations employees, and academics working on new medical approaches. The most recent event, hosted by The Conafay Group, focused on venture philanthropy and funding opportunities through government relations. This year we look to programming on topics as varied as technology and commercialization in India—a changing opportunity; and biotech valuations, M & A, and equity stuctures—insights from the California and Massachusetts communities.
We also introduced an Alternative Funding Fair to connect students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and growing companies with alternative funding resources available in the community. Registrants met with representatives from the Angel Investor Forum, The Conafay Group, CT Innovations Funds, and Elm Street Ventures. Given the positive feedback and the high level of interest, this event will become an addition to our programing.
Keeping with tradition, the CURE Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented during a ceremony at the annual holiday celebration. The award was established to acknowledge the importance of showcasing the unique accomplishments of entrepreneurs in the Connecticut bioscience community. With great pleasure, we recognized and congratulated Milind Deshpande of Achillion Pharmaceuticals and Patrick Fourteau of New Haven Pharmaceuticals as the 2015 award recipients.
|Employing new forums and media outreach, we are striving to showcase Connecticut’s accomplishments, create energy, and communicate about job opportunities, investors and investments, partnerships, services, innovation, and research developments occurring in the state.
The CURE China Portal facilitates bridge building between Connecticut and one of the world’s largest economies, providing connections to expertise, investments, and services to biotech partners and government officials. We also provide consulting introductions to Chinese scientists visiting the US in diverse areas including, but not limited to, regulatory affairs, intellectual property, and clinical development. We hope to expand this activity to additional collaborators worldwide.
We plan, with your assistance, to produce a practical, members-only tool for easy access to CROs and other service providers. Connecticut is one of the few states without this resource. We anticipate this new functionality will assist companies of all sizes, and underscore the wealth of resources readily available in the state. A Beta-test site will soon launch, and if shown to be useful, once optimized will be made available to CURE Members only.
CURE’s website and blog, cureconnect.org, highlights our resources, services, and events as well as community happenings and industry developments. In 2015, we experienced robust viewership and traffic with over 75,000 page views. Highly-referenced content includes the careers resource center, member directory, and events calendar. With funding from CTNext, we produced four educational videos telling the story of some of Connecticut’s more accomplished entrepreneurs. The most recent installment in this video series featured David Scheer, President of Scheer & Company. To view, visit our YouTube channel or the video library also available at cureconnect.org
Additionally, to showcase Connecticut bioscience, to educate, to connect, we continue to grow CURE’s social and media presence with an emphasis on engaging the larger bioscience community and advancing the developments and accomplishments of our members and industry. Follow us on twitter @cureconnect or join our email database, now including more than 3,000 contacts, to receive our daily CURE News Alerts.
|Governmental Advocacy/Education and Public Policy|
As the depth and breadth of CURE’s mission expands, our work at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. will continue unabated. Government policy and advocacy is a critical component of our community outreach. New to 2015, to inform our policy and advocacy strategies, we convened a government affairs committee comprising CURE board members and business and advisory delegates, including the government relations firm of Rome, Smith & Lutz, which has expertise in matters impacting our sector. We strive to work proactively with our legislators to articulate the development of Connecticut’s bioscience sector and will continue to monitor and weigh in, where necessary, on bills related to research and development and laboratory practices that have impact on our membership and life sciences research.
CURE participates in the annual BIO Legislative Fly-In (in Washington DC), joining colleagues from across the country to advocate for the biotechnology industry and learn about key policy issues being debated on Capitol Hill. Further, for the first time in fourteen years, CURE led a delegation of state and city government, NGOs, educational institutions, private companies, and industry leaders in support of a Connecticut sponsored booth at the 2015 BIO International Conference. Twenty-three emerging Connecticut companies had the opportunity to attend and present posters describing their products and attendant science while a wide variety of collateral material was distributed, substantiating the vibrancy and depth of Connecticut’s bioscience ecosystem.
CURE was also a co-sponsor of StemConn2015, Connecticut’s premier conference on stem cell and regenerative medicine research, held every two years. Nearly 500 scientists, business leaders, and students comprised an enthusiastic, record-setting audience for the conference; An enthusiastic, record-setting audience of nearly 500 scientists, business leaders, teachers, and students attended the conference, which marked the anniversary of Connecticut’s bold decision 10 years ago to encourage stem cell research with $100 million in state funding.
|CURE Innovation Commons|
A testament to true partnership, CURE Innovations Commons was realized as a result of the generosity and efforts of CURE’s Board, Pfizer, and the State of Connecticut (through its Department of Economic and Community Development), in response to the urgent need to retain talent and educate and mentor entrepreneurs in pursuit of startups.
Opening soon, The Commons will lease fully-permitted, independent and shared laboratories, offices, and co-working spaces that will provide a place to house, convene, and cultivate bioscience, technology, and business ideation. Resident companies will have access to investors, industry-specific mentors and experts, and back office support, while the community will have access to engaging, content rich educational programming. An evolving program is the CURE STEM Inspiration Zone, which will provide training for teachers and high school-level students through biotech science experiences and experiments. We seek mentors and educators to facilitate this developing dimension.
The Commons will be a haven for the exchange of ideas and expertise among CURE’s network of mentors and members. An ideal place to foster professional, personal, and educational advancement through collaboration with our partners and industry colleagues. The Commons website, curecommons.org, shares news and will calendar educational programming, mentoring, and an array of activities.
|Today CURE’s membership includes over 160 organizations from the heart of the bioscience and life science communities. With your support we will continue our mission to build, connect, and cultivate a robust, vibrant, and entrepreneurial presence in Connecticut.
We seek new members actively and wide member participation in growing this community. If you have ideas or wish to help, please contact us. No idea or need is too small to have impact.
The CURE Board of Directors and I thank you for your support, and we look forward to a continued dynamic partnership.
Susan Froshauer, Ph.D.