Monday, February 13, 2006

N.J. Buoys Efforts of Biotech Entrepreneurs

Feb. 12--The scores of biotechnology companies that dot the New Jersey landscape do everything from extract enzymes from pig hearts and electric eels to "re-engineer" human cells.

But they all seem to have one thing in common -- a motivating entrepreneurial spirit that allows the staff to overlook the risks inherent to the burgeoning industry and work toward a common goal.

"You have to have a lot of faith to do this," said Dr. Andrew Pecora, the chairman and executive director of Hackensack University Medical Center's Cancer Center, who for nearly a decade has run a small biotech company in the growing field of cell therapy.

In many instances, biotech companies gamble on a single product, a treatment that with regulatory approval might one day generate millions of dollars in profits or be sold for millions to a large pharmaceutical company.

But, according to Debbie Hart, president of the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey, it often takes a decade or more and $1 billion in investments before that product reaches its intended patients, if it reaches them at all.

New Jersey's efforts to create an environment where entrepreneurs will believe the risks are worth it include tax credits, grants and loans to biotech start-ups, research funding, and even office rent subsidies.

And two years ago New Jersey established a $10 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for new companies.

For its efforts, the state was recently named one of the top five biotech regions in the world by FierceBiotech, an influential industry trade publication.

Hart said a new survey to be released in the spring is likely to reveal that the number of biotechs has risen to more than 150 from 80 in 1998.

link to full article

No comments: