Birmingham’s Gap Between Biology Education and Biotechnology

Posted on May 19, 2010

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On May 18, the UAB research foundation presented a forum on six companies currently developing products and technology in the medical/science field. I was in attendance at the event, and it was great to see the UAB Research Foundation present this forum. The event gave each company 10 minutes to present information on their accomplishments, followed by a 10 minute Q&A session with the audience.

Presenters included: VIPAAR, Inc. (virtual technology for surgery), KOR Technologies (heart disease drugs), Dr. Brott of Endomimetic, LLC (coating technologies for medical devices), Soluble Therapeutics, LLC (protein-based therapeutics and vaccines), Acquifex Scientific, LLC (experimental drug research), and Dr. Kutsch (better treatment of HIV-positive patients),

Drew Deaton of VIPAAR, Inc. was particularly optimistic about the event, and is quoted on al.com as saying, “It was great of the UAB Research Foundation to feature technology companies in this event…We have a wide range of exceptional technology companies here in Birmingham.”

One of my takeaways from this event is the challenges that the UAB companies face coming from a scientific background into a commercial setting.  While I enjoyed all of the presentations, I could not follow several of the presenters because I did not understand the science.  Undoubtedly these individuals were incredibly sharp people, but a brilliant scientific mind does not easily translate to a growing business.

As Bryce Knight of Bay Street Advisors said, “From the perspective of translating all that good work, to crossing the divide of creating companies that function well, that have executed business plans and that are doing the right things from the purse perspective, you haven’t seen a ton of success yet coming out of Birmingham relative to the amount of innovation and discovery here, so there’s a step that not being done quite right. But, I know from a state and community and a university level, there’s a strong interest in creating a bio-tech hub here.”

Knight went on to say that while UAB is clearly a top university and research center with few parallels, “The University trains PHDs in biology, but where are you going to go for a job? You have to leave town again.”

Mike Goodrich
Goodrich Law Firm, LLC

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Posted in: General, Tech Tip