The New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force convened yesterday to hear testimony from internationally recognized innovation expert Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies LLC. The Task Force was established pursuant to P.L. 2016, Joint Resolution No. 5, to develop policy recommendations to retain and attract new biotechnology companies to New Jersey and encourage greater collaboration between industry and academia.
Dr. Windham-Bannister was the founding Executive Director of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), a state-funded investment organization charged with administering the $1-billion Life Sciences fund signed into law in June 2008. The MLSC is the hub for all sectors of the Commonwealth’s life sciences community – biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics and bioinformatics. During her tenure at the MLSC, Dr. Windham-Bannister was responsible for the overall implementation of the initiative, including formulating the investment strategy for the fund. Under Dr. Windham-Bannister’s leadership, the MLSC invested nearly $700 million of the fund, leveraged another $2 billion in matching investment capital and made life sciences the fastest job-producing sectors of the Massachusetts economy.
“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to hear directly from Dr. Windham-Bannister as we look to identify ways to better support New Jersey’s biotechnology sector,” said Task Force Chair Debbie Hart, who serves as president and chief executive officer of BioNJ. “Dr. Windham-Bannister’s unique perspective in growing a high-performance innovation ecosystem is invaluable to the Task Force and we look forward to using the knowledge we gained today to help formulate recommendations that will best position New Jersey to reclaim our status as a leading center of innovation.”
Dr. Windham-Bannister’s presentation to the Task Force focused on Massachusetts’ significant investment in growing the Commonwealth’s life sciences industry through the establishment of the MLSC, and how the Center ultimately reinvested those resources to support life sciences companies throughout all stages of growth. Among the details shared, Dr. Windham-Bannister emphasized that creating a life sciences ecosystem requires: shared aspiration and vision, advisory and mentoring resources, attraction through incentives, advocacy and publicity, and alignment of stakeholders.
“New Jersey offers a tremendous amount to build upon, including a significant private sector pharma presence and first-rate academic institutions,” said Dr. Windham-Bannister. “It is exciting for me to speak with the Task Force this morning and to see that state government is actively thinking about how to partner with the private sector, as well as other stakeholders, to grow New Jersey’s innovation capacity.”
When available, a full transcript of the testimony will be provided courtesy of the Office of Legislative Services. Dr. Windham-Bannister’s presentation and accompanying handouts are available via www.njeda.com/njbiotechtaskforce.
“The testimony provided to the Task Force this morning from Dr. Windham-Bannister, along with the testimony provided in January from academic and industry representatives, has demonstrated tremendous opportunity where we can take action to prioritize innovation in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (Legislative District 16), Vice-Chair of the Task Force. “This is an ideal time to be considering policies and strategies to grow New Jersey’s biotechnology industry and realize its potential as an economic driver for our state.”
The Task Force is comprised of six legislative members, including Assemblyman Zwicker, Senator Linda Greenstein (Legislative District 14), Senator Robert Gordon (Legislative District 38), Senator Robert Singer (Legislative District 30), Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (Legislative District 40), and Assemblyman Gary Schaer (Legislative District 36); two public members appointed by the Governor, including Debbie Hart, and Daniel O’Connor, chief executive officer of OncoSec Medical Incorporated; and, Timothy Lizura, president and chief operating officer of the EDA, serving in an ex-officio capacity. The EDA serves as staff to the Task Force.
The Task Force expects to submit a report of recommendations to the Governor and Legislature in May 2018.
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