2008 Archives

60 Seconds with Greg Simon, President of FasterCures

60 Seconds with  Greg Simon, President of FasterCures

Since 2003, Greg Simon has been the president of FasterCures, an “action tank” that studies medical R&D processes in order to accelerate treatment and “save lives by saving time.” As chief domestic policy advisor to U.S. Vice President Al Gore from 1993 to 1997, Simon oversaw initiatives of the Human Genome Project, the National Cancer Institute, and the Food and Drug Administration. Simon has also been the CEO of a consulting firm specializing in biotechnology. BF: How would you describe the state of today’s biotech industry and where do you see it heading in the future? SIMON: The biotech industry is at the vanguard of changes in how we conduct medical research and practice medicine. But the barriers to discovery will continue to make success rare and expensive. The advent of personalized, genomic-based medicine favors the biotech industry in the long run but the investment required to realize the promise will be significant and risky and will require adoption of new funding, business, and organizational models. BF: Do you see any industry trends that may affect where biotech companies choose to locate their facilities? SIMON: We are entering an era when traditional biotech clusters near major academic centers will expand to global networks linked through dynamic systems, making physical location not as important. Modular manufacturing units will lower the costs of start-up facilities and lead to the use of more diverse locations to take advantage of differing labor and material input costs. The political aspects of global markets will make a global presence and world view more important for biotech firms. The biotech industry will need to address local and regional health needs in areas where it does research or manufacturing. This will require a real presence, not just a “facilities” presence. BF: What economic effects do biotech companies have on locations where they choose to operate? SIMON: According to the Milken Institute report “America’s Biotech and Life Science Clusters,” the 21st century biotechnology cluster race has many regional entries in the U.S. and around the world. These clusters of interrelated industries foster wealth creation in a region, principally though the export of goods and services. Because knowledge is generated, transmitted, and shared in close proximity, economic activity based on new knowledge has a high propensity to cluster in a geographic area. A region with a top biotechnology cluster will have more innovations, less of which will escape to other regions, or at least, will do so at a slower rate. Regions excel to the extent that the firms and […]

Half-price Stars and Stripes?

Half-price Stars and Stripes?

A recent article entitled “America for Sale” caught my attention this morning. Why? Just a few days ago, I was writing an article about Virginia’s new initiative, VITAL (Virginia International Trade Alliance), which essentially creates a network of companies committed to luring foreign investments into the commonwealth and marketing it globally. And this is a goal of numerous states, of course–branding, trading, and investing overseas. A no-brainer, right? Well, I didn’t think of it until I read the “America for Sale” article, but suppose a state is too successful at attracting foreign investors and shareholders. At what point does an American business become an unAmerican business? Does it matter where a corporation’s origin is if its investors use a different language and currency? Do we have national safeguards to prevent an overload of foreign investment? If not, shouldn’t we? Can we recognize the line between selling stocks and selling out?