Collaborative Bioscience Community Advances Memphis’ Postion as Hub of Bioscience Activity

For Memphis to raise its level of competitiveness in the bioscience industry, the city needs to work towards building a collaborative bioscience community.  In this collaborative community, companies can share skills, resources and knowledge, to everyone’s benefit.  Working together will promote greater innovation, higher productivity, increased inward investment and more start-up companies incubated in Memphis.

Developing this integrated community continues to be a core focus of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.  Since our inception, we have strived to create an atmosphere where companies listen to one another, understand each other’s needs and work together to develop new intellectual properties which will further solidify Memphis’s position as a center for bioscience investment.

We have seen many examples of how a collaborative community in Memphis can lead to new start-up companies and a more productive bioscience sector.  One such example is the recent agreement between LifeCyte and arGentis Pharmaceuticals.  LifeCyte is a biopharmaceutical development and consulting firm which incubated in Memphis. arGentis is a Memphis-based specialty pharmaceutical company that has licensed intellectual property developed at the Southern College of Optometry.  arGentis is in the process of steering two transdermal Dry Eye products through FDA approval to commercialization.

The partnership came out of one of the monthly “lunch and learn” sessions that Memphis Bioworks holds to promote communication and collaboration between the various companies located at the UT-Baptist Research Park.  Until the lunch and learn session, Natika Calhoun, president of LifeCyte, was unaware of the translational research needs of arGentis, while arGentis CEO Tom Davis was unaware that he could get consulting, GMP manufacturing, and analytical services in the biochemical process from a company housed in the same building.

Now an agreement between the two companies is in place that will help both companies solidify their status as successful Memphis startups. arGentis will receive consulting and manufacturing help on the difficult route through clinical trials and FDA approval, while LifeCyte continues to demonstrate its capabilities in navigating the regulatory framework and improving efficiencies necessary to bring products to commercialization.

As the UT-Baptist Research Park continues to develop, this synergistic environment will be enhanced.  The research park will provide a physical community for companies to get started, work side-by-side with other researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs and share ideas and information.  And, there is no reason why this synergy can’t exist throughout the Memphis Medical Center and beyond.

We are on the right track here in Memphis.  The doors to collaboration are opening, and we already have several vehicles in place to help grow existing companies and to attract new ones.  The opportunities are there and we at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation will continue to act as consultants and mentors to ensure that local bioscience companies take advantage of our growing opportunities…and each other.

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