Published : Friday, April 14, 2017 | 5:53 AM
The Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative Incubator will announce the appointment of a new president, a new educational program and its its increased capacity to help additional biotech start-ups at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning.
The Incubator’s Board of Directors will announce the appointment of new president Dr. Robert Bishop and the retirement of Bruce A. Blomstrom — the first leadership transition at the organization in over ten years.
“Today is an important milestone for PBC. We are celebrating the extraordinary effort and progress made under Mr. Blomstrom and announcing the beginning of a new chapter for the organization with Dr. Bishop and a renewed emphasis on scientific training,” said Bill Bogaard, Board Chair and former Mayor of Pasadena. “We’re also expanding our capacity to assist science-based start-ups, which, I am proud to say, enables PBC to remain at the forefront of Southern California’s emerging bioscience community.”
Since its inception, the 13-year-old Pasadena Bioscience is responsible for having helped dozens of bioscience companies successfully develop their ideas that serve to provide life changing products on a global scale.
“This is an opportunity for the city of Pasadena and the bioscience industry to help start-up companies in the bioscience industry that need wet laboratory facilities — a real chance to move forward without great risk,” said Dr. Robert Bishop.
“My vision is to continue to enhance our facilities, to increase the variety and quality of our shared used equipment and to fill up the few spaces that we still have available so that we can continue to operate as a non-profit that has an adequate amount of reserves,” added Bishop.
Dr. Bishop joined the PBC Board of Directors in 2015 as Vice President and has served as Chief Operating Officer since January 1, 2017. He is a veteran of the health care industry, having led companies in the Pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic sectors. He earned his Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the University of Miami.
Bishop succeeds former President Bruce Blomstrom, who is retired after more than a decade with PBC and has been appointed the organization’s President Emeritus, allowing him to continue to serve on the PBC Board to help in the transition.
The key to PBC’s success and the success of the companies it incubates comes from a simple business plan of providing affordable wet lab space and a whole array of shared use equipment and facilities to get started.
According to Bishop, these resources in addition to offering training and mentoring services allow tenants to be able to apply for grants more easily and have a higher acceptance rate.
“It’s a standard type of laboratory environment so that they can do proof of principle experiments and they can develop their products and ideas in a very quick and efficient manner,” said Bishop. “It’s very hard put all of the things you need to put together in a space for yourself starting from ground zero. Most of the companies that join us are extremely young that have an idea that they want to work on and they need laboratory space to be able to do their work and they need access to types of equipment that they can’t afford to buy. It’s that type of an environment that is really what we’re trying to provide,” explained Bishop.
The in-house resources PBC provides aims to get these companies successfully financed, ultimately grow larger and move out into a space of their own once ready.
“We have a constant flow of companies coming in and companies leaving,” explained Bishop.
There are currently 20 companies operating in house at the PBC with approximately 50 companies having been incubated since its creation in 2004 with an average company stay of 40 months and some that have been there since the beginning.
There are a broad range of companies currently developing their products at PBC, which include device companies that creating implants, diagnostic and specimen collection, genetic sequencing preparation, pharmaceutical development for diseases like cancer and much more.
An example is a company called Neumedicines that signed a contract a few years ago worth up to $273 million to fund advanced development of the company’s HemaMax, a product designed to treat hematopoietic syndrome of acute radiation syndrome, according to an article on the PBC website.
The contract was awarded by the Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority.
“We know we can help get companies started very quickly,” explained Bishop.
Thanks to a hefty facility expansion that has over doubled in size from just over 6,000 square feet to over 13,000 square feet total–Bishop is optimistic about the future.
“I think we’re providing a better environment for our clients. It’s one that looks better, that feels better and that I think will allow us to increase the number of companies we have here. We felt it was very important to do that,” said Bishop about the expansion which is a big deal considering the PBC originally started in a 500 square foot space with two tenants.
PBC goes above and beyond incubation services by offering extended programs for and workforce development opportunities for students, entrepreneurs and professionals in bioscience industry.
PBC is a partner with The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB), an organization that develops a professional biotechnology workforce by mobilizing and supporting collaborative CSU student and faculty research, innovating educational practices, and partnering with the life science industry.
Students in the program often become interns and sometimes full time hires at PBC.
“We hold hands with a lot of different places in the pathways for getting people into the workforce,” said PBC Laboratory Director Dr. Wendie Johnston.
The incubator hosts “Lunch and Learn” sessions every two months where entrepreneurs discuss topics such as intellectual property, regulatory affairs, pitching to investors and many more.
“It is a presentation by an entity that does these kinds of things and really wants to get comfortable with our companies and our companies want to hear what they want to say,” said Johnston. “We also invite the students to come listen if they are available. All the way along, we are facilitating transition,” explained Johnston.
The Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator is located at 2265 East Foothill Boulevard.
For more information, visit http://pasadenabiosci.org.