Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly identify David Traylor of Golden Eagle Partners.
Boulder has emerged as a hotbed for biotech and life science companies, but leaders in space are not satisfied.
With the support of partners in the public and private spheres, some of these life sciences luminaries think Boulder and the state could become one of the country’s major hubs for industry, biotechnology executives said at the panel discussion on Tuesday. BizWest CEO on Life Sciences held at the University of Colorado Boulder Campus.
“I imagine we will rise to the top five major life science centers,” said Elyse Blazevich, CEO of the Colorado Bioscience Association.
To capture and ultimately surpass the cities that have traditionally led the industry, such as Boston and San Francisco, Boulder must find a way to attract and retain a talent pool deep enough for companies to grow.
“There is a problem with recruiting Gen Z and Millennial talent,” said Roy Smythe, CEO of Somalogic Inc .. “They can’t afford to live here.”
Problems like affordable housing require collaborative solutions, said Joey Azofeifa, CEO of Arpeggio Bioscience.
“To what extent can startups and larger companies work together to bring talent from San Francisco and Boston,” he asked.
The increase in remote working could prove beneficial to places like Boulder, with abundant leisure opportunities and a lower cost of living than the Bay Area or East Coast metropolises.
“COVID put an end to it: no one thinks they have to be in Boston anymore,” said Boulder Ventures Ltd. founder Kyle Lefkoff.
The retention piece is perhaps a bit simpler, given Boulder’s high quality of life.
“Once they get here, they are very excited to be here,” said BioFrontiers Institute science director Kristen Bjorkman. BioFrontiers acts as an incubator for fledgling biotech companies.
Thankfully, Boulder has CU and its affiliated organizations, which are strong local talent generators and can provide resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“I am grateful to BioFontiers,” said Jason Myers, CEO of Genapsys Inc., crediting the institute for helping grow its former ArcherDX Inc. business, which sold in 2020 for more than $ 1 billion.
Mentors who have been successful in the industry “are more than willing to give their time voluntarily” to the companies born of CU, said school technology transfer director Brynmor Rees.
“It’s great to be associated with CU,” said Kevin Koch, CEO of Edgewise Therapeutics Inc., but there may be limited options for companies as they begin to grow beyond the startup phase.
One of the challenges local biotech companies face is Boulder’s relatively small size and tight commercial real estate market.
It is not enough to simply build traditional offices. “Empty space is one thing, but space that focuses on labs is another story,” said Marvin Caruthers, a distinguished professor at CU.
KBI Biopharma Vice President Greg Sebring said the hope in the industry is that the acquisition of the Flatirons Park campus business by BioMed Realty LLC, which has committed to improving facilities in an effort to attract life science companies. , will provide some much needed elbow room for growing businesses
On the other hand, industry leaders reflect on the impact that unlimited growth would have on the Boulder community.
“We can overcome the Boulder sensation,” asked Pawel Fludzinski, CEO of Amide Bio.
While acquisitions by large national and multinational corporations can bring unexpected gains for founders, David Traylor of Golden Eagle Partners said these deals may erode the strength of Boulder’s global life sciences environment.
“The top-notch companies were taken over and then rolled out,” he said.
However, industry leaders expressed optimism about Boulder’s opportunities to continue its rise as a biotech hotspot and expressed enthusiasm for potential discoveries around the corner.
“There are important initiatives and announcements on the way,” said BioFrontiers Institute director Kristi Anseth.
BizWest CEO Roundtable Sponsors were Ashley Cawthorne of Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP, Sean Nohavec of Plante Moran, Aaron Spear representing Bank of Colorado, and Becky Potts of Plante Moran.
This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.