Seattle Biotech Needs More Bars, Less University Red Tape, and the Same Daring Attitude, & Other Highlights from Seattle Life Sciences 2029

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that we talk about every Monday morning is no longer technology risk, regulatory risk, management risk, development risk, market risk. It’s syndicate risk. Who are our partners in this transaction? Are they going to be there writing checks alongside of us? Will they honor their commitments? It’s a big thing that we think about. You can’t have a deal today that’s oversyndicated. The more smart people around a table writing checks, the better.”

Steve Gillis on the next company in Seattle with a drug that could transform medicine, like Enbrel: “Ikaria. The science that drove the formation of that company, in Mark Roth’s lab at the Hutch, is one of the most amazing biomedical breakthroughs I’ve seen in years. It will take a while to commercialize, no question about it. It’s fascinating science and it will shape medicine for years to come.” (Ben Shapiro seconded this motion).

Ben Shapiro on whether Seattle has the right ingredients to compete in the future with hubs in China: “With our education system, we should be shaking in our boots. If we can’t do a better job of primary and secondary science education, then I think we’ll have our lunch eaten by these other countries. This is an American crisis, to allow so many children to be left out, in terms of getting access to good education. To have public education falling down in so many major cities in this country, with science education at the very bottom of the heap. To have the fundamental discouragement that happens to so many young people. Every kid at one year of age, or two years of age, is a budding scientist, boy or girl. They are interested in everything in nature and then the education system manages to systematically drum it out of them. By the time they’re in high school, they think it’s boring, and it’s a bunch of names they need to memorize. It’s a national crisis, and it will impact us completely. If I were to say we have to worry about something, I’d say we should worry about the state of the school system for the next 40 years, and the impact it will have on the next generation.”

Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro

Stephen Friend on what he sees in China, where he spends 10 percent of his time and has an apartment: “I’d say we should be quaking in our boots and also looking for the new opportunities. The thing about it that’s striking, if you’re in Guangzhou, or Shanghai, or Beijing, you see this attitude of ‘I’m up at 5 am and I’m not going to bed until midnight.’ That’s the attitude of people in their 20s and 30s, of people who are their workforce. Getting ahead, taking two jobs. The hunger that’s in the belly of those people to get things done in science—it should have everyone trying to figure out how to leverage it.”

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