Slain Biotech Investor Leaves $1 Million to Support Entrepreneurship

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master’s degree in marketing and finance, and spent much of his career with major chemical and pharmaceutical companies. He worked in various marketing, managerial, and executive positions at Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth Laboratories, and ICN Pharmaceuticals, before joining Vestar (later known as NeXstar Pharmaceuticals) as chief operating officer. He served in the same capacity at Minnesota-based GalaGen before arriving in San Diego as the CEO of Ionian Technologies, a diagnostics startup founded in 2000.

Watson joined the TCA shortly after retiring in 2008, and he was elected to the San Diego board of directors the following year.

Flaim says funds from the Watson Foundation will be used to provide cash prizes to winners of the TCA’s annual Quick Pitch event, a selection process that culminates with finalists’ presentations during a public competition that’s usually held in early October. “John was really passionate about the Quick Pitch event,” Flaim says. “He ran it for a year and was all set to run it for the second year when he died.”

The TCA has not yet decided how much prize money will be awarded in this year’s Quick Pitch contest, which has never previously provided cash awards, Flaim says. The TCA also is considering other ways the fund could be used, such as providing scholarships for entrepreneurial MBA students. “This is probably the first foundation set up to support entrepreneurship in San Diego,” Flaim says, and the angel investment group is still trying to decide how best to use it.

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