BY SHARON HILLSTROM
The weather was miserable when we attended the BIO conference in Boston last month, but we didn’t mind at all. In fact, the steady downpour made our “Bradenton Area” branded umbrellas a huge hit at our booth as we talked with more than 150 attendees from life sciences businesses of all kinds.
The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC) was one of just two economic development organizations from Florida that attended BIO, a premier conference and expo for the global life sciences industry. With wages averaging $70,000 per year, this is a highly desirable industry sector for building a more diverse and robust economy in Manatee County.
In addition to staffing a very busy booth during exhibiting hours, we conducted eight official meetings with companies. In four days of intensive conversations, we showed company decision-makers why Manatee County is a great location for their growing businesses. We showcased CORE at Lakewood Ranch (our region’s life sciences R&D campus) and impressed industry experts with the diversity of the life sciences entities already located here.
We knew we had a diverse group of businesses in the industry here, but we didn’t realize how unusual that is for a relatively small market that also delivers an extremely attractive quality of life. Players in life sciences in our region range from medical R&D to medical device manufacturing, from nutraceuticals to agricultural. Industry experts told us that is a very rare – and attractive – combination.
For business owners and others who are interested in learning more about this sector in Manatee-Sarasota and the opportunities it represents for our region, these upcoming events may be of interest.
On August 8 at “Biomed: Research to Reality”, researchers from the University of Florida (UF) and University of South Florida (USF) will share their findings in the fields of biomed and medical device development and discuss the path to commercialization.
Dr. Christine Schmidt, Ph.D., from UF will share her research and findings in the biomed field of medicine and research, and outline the business side of creating, launching and funding a biomed product in today’s market. Schmidt’s research focuses on engineering novel materials and therapeutic systems to stimulate damaged peripheral and spinal neurons to regenerate.
Dr. Christopher Passaglia, Ph.D., from USF will discuss his research path to conceive, design and fabricate a unique device for the study and treatment of glaucoma and other pressure-dependent medical disorders. He will also highlight the innovative research of biomedical colleagues at USF.
Two sessions are available, with the researchers presenting the same information at both sessions. UF and USF Sarasota-Manatee will present the event at Lakewood Ranch Country Club, with support from community partners including the Bradenton Area EDC, Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, CORE at Lakewood Ranch, and the EDC of Sarasota County. For details and registration, visit www.lwrba.org/biomed.
On August 22, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) will host a free biotech open house on the Bradenton campus.
Guests will tour a state-of-the-art lab, meet faculty comprised of industry professionals, and talk with current students. This is a great opportunity to learn about SCF’s new one-year Biotechnology Specialist Certificate, the Associate of Science Biotechnology degree and opportunities in the field. For information, contact Kathy Doran, 941-752-5341 or dorank@SCF.edu.