2009 – A Foundation for the Future

The end of the year is always a time of both reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year ahead. At Memphis Bioworks, 2009 gave us plenty to look forward to in the New Year.

In this continuing tough economy, it is easy to look on the dark side of the equation. I prefer to look at the bright side of all that has happened in Memphis in the biosciences, and all the opportunity it has created. So many organizations and companies made great strides during the last 12 months – The Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Tomorrow, our many orthopedic device companies, a number of local start-ups, our hospitals and researchers, and our various entrepreneurial organizations.

At Memphis Bioworks Foundation, we are focused on three areas of emphasis – infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship – across the various bioscience niches. And, an important additional category that crosses each segment is Partnership. Here are just a few of the milestones reached that I believe will set a strong foundation for 2010.

Infrastructure:
o Memphis Bioworks Foundation secured New Markets Tax Credits for $30 million in partnership with the City of Memphis.
o 6,000 square feet of laboratory space for entrepreneurs opened in the 20 South Dudley Building on the UT-Baptist Research Park Campus.
o Progress continued at the UT-Baptist Research Park with a ribbon cutting on the Regional Biocontainment Lab. The final-phase of construction of the UTHSC School of Pharmacy continued with the facility scheduled to open in fall 2010.
o As part of the goal to improve the streetscape in the area, the Memphis Medical Center Board selected Poplar Ave. (Decatur to Dunlap) as the first project area.
Education:
o MASE graduated 100% of its senior class.
o Harold Wingood was named as Executive Director of MASE.
o Annual Memphis BioImaging Symposium (MemBIS) completed its sixth year. While the Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference was held for the seventh year.
Entrepreneurship:
o Innova was awarded TNInvestco status enabling the creation of Innova II Fund through $20M in insurance tax credits issued by the State of Tennessee for early-stage capital investments.
o TECworks was launched as a value-added coaching and mentoring service with Jan Bouten as Executive Director.
o AgBioworks completed a groundbreaking study for the Delta region for job creation in the new bio-economy through biomass and bio-based production.
o Vaxent, one of Innova’s Memphis-based investments, was recognized by the World Vaccine Congress as a finalist for the Best Prophylactic Vaccine of the year award
o Eleven budding entrepreneurs graduated from the first FastTrac TechVenture program in Memphis.
Partnership:
o AgBioworks established the 25 Farmer Network to grow new crops, participate in value-added processing, and partner with companies producing biofuels and biobased products across 21 counties in West Tennessee.
o Memphis Bioworks Business Association (MBBA) completed its first year of operations.
o MBBA established the Memphis Orthopaedic Research Lecture series as a monthly program in partnership with InMotion Research Institute and UT Health Science Center.

Memphis is in an ideal position to establish itself as a leader in the 21st Century bioeconomy. Whether it is green initiatives through renewable agricultural resources; building upon our strong positions in orthopedics, medical devices and infectious diseases; investing in our educational organizations; expanding our entrepreneurial ventures through training, support and investment; building biologistics strengths on the foundation of our logistics and distribution; or simply using our financial resources wisely, 2010 will be a year of opportunity.

My wish for the New Year is that the community work in partnership, and with focus, to continue moving forward toward our potential as a leader in the global biosciences.

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