Susan Windham-Bannister on the State of the State’s $1B Life Sciences Initiative, Part I

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what are we at the Life Sciences Center doing to address some of those concerns. Life sciences, and it’s reflected in the duality of our mission, is about the good science and the good business. If science is never translated into products or services, they never get into the hands of caregivers or into the bodies of patients. So there’s something to be said for thinking about the good business that goes hand-in-hand with the good science. What we’re doing here at the center is making Massachusetts an attractive place for people like Carl Icahn to want to have companies. We’re investing in the pipeline of innovations, and it’s cost-effective to be in a state that is hugely innovating, because there are lots of places to go [for large drug companies] to find the next new discovery that will be the blockbuster for your company or will save you the internal development costs.

Yes, [Icahn] may be very influential, but we at the center are providing all the conditions so somebody like Carl Icahn will look at Massachusetts, and through whatever lens he is looking, it will make sense for him to seriously consider investing here, having companies locate here, or having companies grow here.

X: Which two or three companies do you feel have benefited most from the state’s life sciences initiative?

W-B: They all tell us that they have benefited. Remember that a lot of these companies are just now getting their grants. We’re really pleased that two of them [Wadsworth Medical Technologies and Pluromed] have received their FDA approvals. Pluromed has signed a major marketing agreement with Boston Scientific. So it’s not only benefited this young company, but also Boston Scientific. Boston Scientific now has access to this technology [a device used in kidney stone management] that improves their competitive position. All of the [startups we’ve funded] are now talking to venture capitalists and institutional investors about their next rounds of funding, and those conversations are really happening as a result of our investments and their relationships with this center.

(Editor’s note: In the next part of this interview with Windham-Bannister, she answers tough questions about her involvement in getting Patrick re-elected for a second term this November and how political change could impact Patrick’s $1 billion life sciences initiative.)

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