Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From ColoradoBiz, trends in tech: 'A status report on Colorado's top six tech sectors'

Quoting from the May 2011 ColoradoBiz report by Eric Peterson:

"Holli Baumunk, president and CEO of the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA) in Denver, is bullish, and she has the numbers to back it up.

'Bioscience is one of the few sectors that's been growing in the past two years,' Baumunk says. From 2005 to 2010, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries in Colorado grew by about 3 percent, while the larger industry suffered through a 4 percent contraction over the same period nationally. And Colorado's medical device industry outdid biotech and pharma by growing 8
percent over those five years.

However, not all is well in bioscience, Baumunk says. 'We're a little concerned about regulatory issues at the federal level and financial issues around the country,' she says. 'The FDA is undergoing major reforms that are having an impact on the bioscience industry. It's becoming a lot more stringent toward the medical device industry.

New devices could have to go through the same trials a drug goes through. The cost of that is extremely high. What we're really concerned about is what this will do to U.S. competitiveness globally. If we're constantly implementing more and more regulation on our companies, it's not going to be cost-effective for them to manufacture here. It's a long haul already, and this makes it longer.'

Proposals to lower the length of a patent on biosimilars, generic versions of biotech drugs with expired patents, from 12 years to seven have also raised the industry's ire, Baumunk says.

'It doesn't give companies enough time to recoup their investment,' she argues, noting that the average drug requires a decade to get out of the red. 'Why develop it? Where's the money? Another thing we're very concerned about is lack of financing for emerging bioscience companies. Venture capital money has really dried up.'

The CBSA is pushing for a five-year renewal of the Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program, which funneled $27 million to early-stage companies in recent years. 'We want that to continue,' Baumunk says. Same goes for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding at the federal level.

Nevertheless, Colorado is well-positioned with its fast growing medical campuses and programs at the state's institutions of higher learning. Baumunk cites both University of Colorado and Colorado State University as well as Colorado School of Mines. 'We are really lucky to have all of these research institutions.'"

Link to the article at cobizmag.com

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