O’Connor: Bioscience key to health industryPublished: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
In the recent Brookings Institution report, the health industry was recognized as a major industry in our region. One of the major contributors to this is the bioscience industry.
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber reports Oklahoma’s bioscience sector currently contributes more than $6.7 billion in economic activity and supports more than 51,000 Oklahoma jobs. Many of those companies are located in the Oklahoma City metro area.
The proximity of prominent health entities, such as the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Dean McGee Eye Institute, Hough Ear Institute and Stephenson Cancer Center, combined with research partners such as the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, i2E and the Presbyterian Health Foundation, already creates opportunities for collaboration. The implementation of the Innovation District will spur even more robust collaborations that move research from concept to market. Just like a catalyst in the lab, industry-relevant research creates more opportunities for bioscience startups and attracts new health and science companies to our city.
A recent example is Novartis’ purchase of the local biotech company Selexys for $665 million. This purchase was significant for the bioscience industry, not only financially, but also because it demonstrated the success of Oklahoma City’s innovation ecosystem. Selexys was supported by OCAST and i2E through grants and private investment opportunities. The company’s founders have since created another company in Oklahoma City, further advancing health care and bioscience entrepreneurship.
Another example is OU researcher Cortes Williams and his two biotech startup companies focused on commercializing tumor-growing technologies and treatment. Originally, he had planned to move out of the state, but decided to build his companies here due to the emerging culture of biomedical innovation, collaboration and funding. These are only two examples of bioscience company success stories – there are so many more. Imagine the advancements in health and biosciences once the Innovation District is fully established and we are actively recruiting companies to the area.
The burgeoning bioscience industry is also attracting global attention. Conferences such as END2CANCER and the Biomedical Symposium are bringing engineers, physicians, innovators and investors from all over the world to Oklahoma City. Until last year, there had never been a biomedical symposium in our state. All these developments mean healthier options for Oklahomans and for our economy.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.