Memphis’ Sights are on Site Selection

I recently became aware that Site Selection, the magazine of corporate real estate strategy and economic development, is doing a feature in May about North American Life Science Centers. (This follows Site Selection listing Memphis as No. 9 for New or Expanded Corporate Facilities in March of this year.) Having recently been appointed to the Greater Memphis Chamber board, I have also become more sensitive to the importance of this kind of publication and the impact of such coverage and ranking for the growth of our economy.

With those two factors in mind, the team at Memphis Bioworks Foundation immediately began putting together a pitch to the magazine to try and convince them that a feature of that kind would not be complete unless it includes Memphis. This issue is going to cover life science hotspots for company development, locations with strong venture capital opportunity and locations with plans in place for “shovel ready” development in support of life science.

Memphis is certainly one of the centers of bioscience in the country, with outstanding programs and leadership positions. Here are a few things we know that, perhaps, Site Selection does not (yet):

Orthopedics and musculoskeletal leadership: Medtronic, Smith and Nephew, and Wright Medical have very large operations in the city. This is from an operational, headquarters, research and discovery perspective. In fact, their operations, along with a few other companies, make this the second largest center for medical devices in the country. In addition, Campbell Clinic is located here, one of the leading orthopedic organization in the country and the author of the definitive Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics which was first published in 1939. In fact, we have several leading orthopedic practices. And, our annual Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference is among the largest gathering in the country each year for orthopedic-related venture capital in the industry.

In addition to these leadership organizations, a large number of startups in this field are spinning out from researchers and establishing operations here.

Infectious disease research, discovery and business development: Led by St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and researchers at the UT Medical School, several research programs in Memphis are world leaders. For example, the research team at St. Jude led the international efforts for a Swine Flu vaccine. With technology transferred from UTHSC, there is Vaxent, a start-up whose lead product in development is a subunit vaccine against group A streptococcus which has been tested in early stage human clinical trials and has been recognized as a finalist by the World Vaccine Congress. There are many other examples of great bioscience work being done in the city and companies being developed.

Venture Capital: Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s Innova arm is one of the most recognized pre-seed, seed and early-stage investors focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the Biosciences, Technology and AgBio fields across the state of Tennessee. MB Ventures is another local venture capital firm with recognized expertise in biotechnology, medical devices and solutions for musculoskeletal disease.

Shovel Ready Sites: Finally, Memphis Bioworks is leading the development of the UT-Baptist Research Park in Memphis. This park, adjacent to the Medical School is ready for research occupancy in its existing tower with additional build-to-suit availability. Included in facilities currently in the development stage is a Regional Biocontainment Laboratory offering a suite of biosafety level (BSL) 2 and 3 laboratory modules, space for training, security, substantial vivarium space, and build-to-suit laboratory/office space.

Sometimes it takes something like the Site Selection opportunity to cause you to step back and look at all we have going for us. We have made the pitch to the magazine, which is all we can do at this point.

Our sights are set on Site Selection for showcasing Memphis and its Life Sciences. If they cover us, great. If they don’t, we will all read the article knowing that something glaring is missing.

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