Q&A with Wheeler Bio’s Jesse McCool: Innovating how emerging biopharmas do business from right here in OKCPublished: Thursday, September 2, 2021 By: Marcus Elwell Source: VeloCity
VeloCityOKC: In your own words, what is Wheeler Bio?
McCool: Wheeler Bio is a new type of biomanufacturing company that is built to accelerate the translation of therapeutic innovation into clinical impact. Our business model, coupled with proprietary manufacturing process technology, allows us to integrate drug discovery with drug development in a unique way that better meets the needs of emerging biopharma companies. Emerging biopharmas are the venture-backed biotech companies at the root of early-stage medicine development and are driving an outsized portion of innovation and new product development. We primarily serve these customers which typically do not have consistent and timely access to high-quality contract manufacturing services. By integrating our development platform parallel to drug discovery, we offer a novel pathway for drug developers that is faster, easier and more predictable.
Why was it important for Wheeler Bio to plant its flag in Oklahoma City?
Oklahoma City has invested in its biotech economy for over 30 years, so there is already a critical mass of trained talent and key assets here. OKC has an existing biotech workforce and an emerging group of local venture capitalists who have been investing in medicines and next-generation therapeutics. All that activity stirs up opportunities for service providers like Wheeler, both by ensuring that we can fill our hiring needs quickly and that we have robust access to customers.
Part of the equation is also the ease of doing business in Oklahoma. OKC was recently ranked the top city in North America for ease of conducting business. Wheeler is well-positioned for growth in this low-cost, business friendly, geographically centralized hub that is equidistant from both major coastal biopharma ecosystems. The population here is young, educated and growing. And there’s a very cool vibe downtown.
I should also say that my wife, Joanna, and I, like many other transplanted residents, have grown to appreciate “The Big Friendly” in more ways than one. Our engagement with community, culture, new friends and schools has had a positive impact on our OKC longevity. We moved our family here in 2013 from the Boston metro and have found an open arms reception at every new turn. OKC is full of resilient, hardworking people who, honestly, are just great at building things. I would love to see this city emerge from its historical dependence on volatile industries like energy. I think this community has room to develop out more verticals and to truly diversify the economic base, because of the people we have here.