One thing mentioned by several sources was the changing perception of Alabama’s economy – with the state becoming increasingly known for its life science savvy in addition to its traditional status in heavy manufacturing.
The recent Biotechnology Industry Organization international convention, held in Chicago in late April, provides a good look at that changing perception. The global event attracted more than 15,000 people and the biggest names in biotech to see what companies have been developing over the past year.
With 50 organizations contributing to its exhibition pavilion, Alabama showed up in force. And the efforts paid off.
Kathy Nugent, president of BioAlabama, spoke at the annual BioAlabama symposium on May 16 and said that the Alabama exhibition pavilion received a great deal of attention.
“We had a larger-than-normal crowd gathering around our exhibits throughout the summit,” Nugent said. “They were coming to see what Alabama was doing right.”
One of the local companies drawing attention was Soluble Therapeutics, a Birmingham startup that specializes in protein research. They demonstrated their new HSC technology, a device that optimizes drug formulations.
“The HSC cuts the process of determining the inactive ingredients in drugs from a year and a half down to 60 days,” said John McCarter, director of business development at Soluble Therapeutics. “It also increases the shelf-life of drugs and determines the best method of delivering it to patients.”
McCarter said that the HSC received a lot of attention and that during the networking days of the BIO summit, the company had scheduled 34 meetings with other interested companies.
“We went from a meeting with a Korean company to a German company to a Japanese company. We definitely gained some international interest,” he said.
Soluble Therapeutics is housed at theInnovation Depot business incubator, which fosters the growth of emerging technology companies and brings in experts that provides everything the company needs to grow and eventually graduate into their own facilities.
But unlike most incubators, Innovation Depot doesn’t have any graduation requirements such as limits on square footage or retail sales.
“It’s a great location for us. We really enjoy it here and have expanded twice already,” McCarter said. “We don’t have to waste money on bricks and mortar and can concentrate our funds on improving our technology.”