Part 1: The Golden Triangle




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Video title: Part 1: The Golden Triangle
Released on: August 11, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
  • Transcript
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In June 2009 ERBI, OBN and LBN announced an escalation in their collaborative efforts, joining together to represent the three UK regions as a single body on the international scene. This was not a merger of the three organisations involved, simply a more formalised means to collaborate. At BIO 2009 the CEO’s of all three organisations joined us to discuss bringing the three major lifescience and healthcare networking groups of the Greater South East of England together to form a super cluster and to explain how this provides potential international partners and investors with a simple access route to the opportunities in each of the regions.
The origin and activities of The London Biotechnology Network.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business review here at Bio in Atlanta. On this show I have three CEO's from three regions within the UK. On my right here I have Tony Jones who is the CEO of LBN [The London Business Network]. Next to him is Harriet Fear who is the CEO of ERBI based in Cambridge. And next to Harriet, is John -- Jon Rees from the local area of Oxford's OBN. Welcome. Three of you play an important role in the membership within Europe's specific regions. Now wanted to start with you Tony, just to start with describing what LBN actually does for London?
Tony Jones:
What LBN does it creates a focal point of forum where anybody doing life science business in, with all through London has a portal to come to and finding partners, investors, raising awareness where we are pleased to doing what where and when and why, so some gets with best practiced deal flow and --
Fintan Walton:
And how about when you talk about the The London Business Network because clearly London is quite a big place? So you really largely looking at what companies within the M25 region or around greater- greater London?
Tony Jones:
It's London centric. It began as within the M25 and we because there was no real co-ordinations we have to build the community, build the cluster field. London is a huge sort of city in that sense in diversity. But now we are very much more outward looking so it's London centric.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
Now but lot of the activity we have is with companies outside London and deal outside the United Kingdom.
Fintan Walton:
And your membership includes both obviously biotech companies?
Tony Jones:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
But is it extended to pharmaceutical companies and also into University and Research Institutes?
Tony Jones:
Absolutely it's wide across the space so it's investors, universities, tech transfer like to we have that change of pharma and professional services and advices which is a key strength.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So you are creating a network obviously as you are The London Business Network but you are creating a network of organizations in the way you facilitate that no network is by your presence but also obviously through series of meetings that you're gone on a regular basis?
Tony Jones:
That's right. We run regular monthly meetings, the bio Wednesdays and the biotechnology network functions through that and our annual showcase event which is Genesis which we see a lot of overseas companies to -- coming to.
Fintan Walton:
Right so when somebody is trying to run the M25 they may want to shoot up to the M11?
Harriet Fear:
Hopefully.
Fintan Walton:
Towards Cambridge and there they will find ERBI?
Harriet Fear:
They will.
Origin and functions of ERBI and what it actually does for the local biotech community.
Fintan Walton:
And Harriet, could you describe what ERBI actually does for the local biotech community?
Harriet Fear:
Yes of course, probably the most important thing to mention first is that once ERBI was set up 10-years ago to support the global activities and the competitiveness of biotech companies that is still very much at our core we also represent the interests of the medical technology community about the last year. So we are biotech and MedTech and we are proud obviously of the fact that we have a big pharma in the region and we have the top 10 US biotech's in the region and various others. But the very similar reason for being to Tony, we are a company in our own right have now that we have received a couple of funding and we represented the interests of our members about 370 at the last count.
Fintan Walton:
Right and clearly a lot of that emerged because of the University of Cambridge?
Harriet Fear:
Absolutely.
Fintan Walton:
In part?
Harriet Fear:
Yeah, it's very interesting we've done a- University of Cambridge has done a mind map of why the Cambridge phenomenon happened and when you look at it, it's quite a confusing diagram but it actually stands back to about 15 or 16 key individuals, many of whom are still very active in the community. But from academia, from venture capital community, from the scientific community, from the business community all do created is the Cambridge phenomenon which we -- we now and love today.
The history and activities of Oxford Biotechnology network.
Fintan Walton:
Right, now obviously London and Cambridge are all ancient cities, another ancient city Jonis Oxford and when we go for the M25 and up the M40 we head Oxford and you represent the local Oxford Biotechnology network. Could you tell us a little bit about your organization too and how it came about?
Jon Rees:
Sure, OBN was set up in 1999 launched by Lord Sainsbury and it's actually not so local anymore. Although we are based in Oxford we serve the Oxford in South East region through a program of three kinds of activities. The first of those is networking through evening events held once a month called Bio Tuesdays attended by about a 100 people. The second is partnering which we deliver through BioTrinity which is our Annual Investment and Biopartnering Conference and our third activity is group purchasing. We bring the companies together and use the aggregate purchasing power to achieve discounts. So these activities brought together support the growth and development of companies across the Oxford in South East region from Oxford down to the South Coast.
Fintan Walton:
I suppose that's similar for all three of you it is similar sort of thing as Oxford and biotechnology network?
Harriet Fear:
Yeah we have a training program as well.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
We are funded quiet differently in a sense we are not funded by subscriptions from the biotech companies themselves and paid for -- by the private sector business group for London first. So therefore we take a much lighter touch to it. We provide the forum and we don't have the overheads or the capacity to do this sort of --
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Tony Jones:
The more special interest group scheme type things so it's very much a hands off.
The concept of Golden Triangle
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So I mean clearly London has universities rather not to avoid may mention them, we've mentioned Oxford and Cambridge?
Tony Jones:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
But the important thing here is that when we start to look at each of these regions, collectively we've got a pretty powerful group of organizations of companies, institutes and so forth. So I know the reason why the three of you are here because you are putting- putting your three minds together around the concept of working together. So like to start with you Tony, this is concept with The Golden Triangle?
Tony Jones:
That's right. I think.
Fintan Walton:
And what is that concept?
Tony Jones:
What is it that concept? I think it's really a sort of a further evolution of what's always happened in the sense of the organizations collaborating to bring them and best together and usually it's just like minded people saying we can do this in a much more efficient way both for ourselves to say what makes a great event when you put it together. But also from and the companies and people looking to access opportunities in the region -- respective regions and I think it really stands from the same, the biotechnology sector is growing. We want to cluster it it's fit for purpose today on the world stage and to do that you need to bring the best minds you can together.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
And we can do that in The Golden Triangle.
The Golden triangle: From concept to practical reality.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So if I can ask you Harriet, now clearly normally when we look such organizations like yourselves you can end up stepping on each others toes a little bit because you both got similar interests. So how can the Golden Triangle actually work from concept to practical reality? And what sort of ideas you have and plans you have to make sure that it turns into an actual Golden Triangle if I could ask that?
Harriet Fear:
We're all. We three of us are all about tangibles; you know business wants to see tangible outcomes from it. Our members want to see tangibles outcomes from it and we absolutely too also when if the -- the just as an example of how that's going to work in a practice is that we've been talking very seriously with (indiscernable) and we are gonna be meeting with the Mayor (indiscernable) that's over the governor (indiscernable)
Fintan Walton:
That's a Massachusetts equivalence.
Harriet Fear:
Yes, yeah exactly to what to talk about collaboration and to talk about you know understanding each other's needs and putting our companies and our potential members in touch with the right community in -- in the mass area with the view to going out in September this year to do some more work on that front. But as Tony Jones said it's really something that's -- that's -- it's being -- it's not been formalized but it's been brought to catalyze and brought together more now than it has necessarily in the past partly as a drive from us as individuals partly as a drive from our members to see that -- now individually we have you know some fantastic, fantastic offers how much more compelling will it be if we actually all join -- join forces and the beauty of it for us is that the data that we have to support, the offer that we have for international -- the international community is there.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Harriet Fear:
We don't need to project and we don't need to make anything up and the stats standup discretionary.
The ways of approaching The Golden Triangle
Fintan Walton:
Right, okay. So if I could go to you Jon, about this mean?
Tony Jones:
Sure.
Fintan Walton:
When you started to conceptualize this is I know you did and start putting this ideas together, how can that translate into -- Harrietjust mentioned that the aims of trying to make sure it translates into tangibles but if I was a an organization outside the Golden Triangle how would I best get the -- the concepts, the practical concepts, the tangible components of what you can offer and if somebody wanted to approach the Golden Triangle who would they approach will they just approach any of the three or how do you see it practically functioning?
Jon Rees:
I think in this initial stage what we are doing is stepping up with the concept of the Golden Triangle and saying well, we all three of us run some of the most productive trade associations in Europe and taken together a membership base forms the densest biotech cluster in Europe and we can leverage that brand to support interactions with other leading biotech clusters in the way Harriet eluded two are there -- and that's allowed us to interact in a way that perhaps we haven't as individual groups with clusters and perhaps Massachusetts and perhaps on the -- the Western Coast of United States. I think that really sets us apart as a cluster from any other cluster in Europe and I think this kind of working together, of course we are working and the fact that we are all able to interact in this way as not for profit is really helpful. We are not tied or bound by a stream of public funding or government agency. We don't have to fragment. We are already in the most successful cluster in Europe.
Measuring success of The Golden Triangle.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So when we take the tangible concept a little bit further what tangibles are we looking for? What sort of outputs would you like to measure success of the Golden Triangle and what about the potential there?
Tony Jones:
You know what we like to see from taking this forward really is driven by our members needs, you know we are in a environment where it's tough like they are short on time they are short on cash.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Tony Jones:
And so we can streamline some of the things that they don't need to be difficult so can you put them together with companies from Massachusetts. But it is an immediate mutual respect this is history of both regions. Then can you speed up their deal clip and will you see more investment into the science space in both locations where they see excellence.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Tony Jones:
And so I think for me the tangible actions really would be seeing our members develop as companies in a -- in a very competitive marketplace.
Fintan Walton:
Right, okay.
Tony Jones:
So that thing is what we have to look at.
Fintan Walton:
So when we think about that Harriet, the concept that's a very important thing that Tonymentioned there which is money and financing, isn't it an important also for the Golden Triangle to be successful that is not just matter of cooperation, coordinating at a biotech level, it's at a financing level as well it's, because little of the companies in each of those, each of your regions are financed by both obviously VC's the normal VC.
Harriet Fear
CEO, ERBI
Tony Jones, Director of Biotechnology & Healthcare London First. After completing a PhD in Biochemistry (1992) from the University of Southampton UK, Tony Jones undertook several years of post-doctoral research in the oncology field, primarily with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund taking novel neuropeptide antagonists into Phase 1. In 1997, he moved into Technology Transfer with the Medical Research Council and later (1998) moved to University College London, where he was Business Development Manager at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research until November 2003. In November 2003, he took up the post of Director of Biotechnology & Healthcare at London First, managing the London Biotechnology Network and promotion of London's excellence in healthcare research and delivery. Recruited as Director in late 2003 for the London Biotechnology Network (LBN), Tony has moved the LBN from a primarily inward looking London group to an outward facing business network. Dr.Jon Rees is CEO of OBN, having taken over the direction of the network's activities in July 2005, taking the organization to financial self-sustainability, diversifying it's business, and leading the spin-out of OBN from the University in July 2008. As executive director, Dr. Rees's it's on the 5-member Board of OBN, developing strategy for the organization as well as business planning. Jon was a scientist by training, but also has several years' background in Project Management, which he moved into after having worked as a post-doctoral research officer in the Dept. of Plant Sciences Univ. Oxford publishing in peer-reviewed plant biotechnology journals. Jon conceptualized BioTrinity, now OBN's flagship one-to-one biotechnology partnering and investment conference which showcases the South East most promising biotech's which attracted 400 delegates in it's first year - and at which over 500 partnering meetings were held. BioTrinity became the largest biopartnering meeting in South East England (SEEDA) region in it's inaugural year. Dr. Rees also instigated OBN's Group Purchasing Scheme which is expected to save OBN Member companies up to 1m over it's first two years. Jon completed his molecular biology PhD in 2000. Harriet Fear joined the ERBI team from the Diplomatic Service. She has worked in many British Embassies around the globe -- across all continents. She has spent the last 10 years working in the commercial field, the latter five years of which she has led the life sciences Trade Team at UK Trade & Investment. This role saw her leading the UK presence at major international events such as BIO and Medica and championing the international plans of biotech, pharma, healthcare and Medtech companies throughout the UK. She also played a pivotal role in the selling of the UK life sciences sector internationally, working with industry leaders to develop life sciences Marketing Strategy for the UK.
London Biotechnology Network
The London Biotechnology Network (LBN) began in 2000 and has since grown to be a stalwart addition to the London life sciences community. LBN is a business network of over 800 organizations and 2000 members from the biopharmaceutical sector, academia, venture capital community, legal and accounting services, and consultants with an interest in the sector. LBN strives to provide members with relevant information and networking opportunities to cultivate the right environment for innovation and collaboration in the life sciences community. OBNOBN is a not-for-profit biotech business network which exists to catalyze the growth and development of the Oxford and South-East biotech super-cluster. Their activities can be summarized as networking, partnering, and group purchasing, advice and information dissemination. ERBIERBI was established in 1997 with a grant for 3 years from the DTI. As a networking organization for Cambridge and the East of England, their original goal was to provide a platform for biotechnology and related companies to meet and interact through attending regular meetings. In 2000 ERBI became a private, not-for-profit, self -financing, membership based company. Their Board and Steering Group are made up of representatives from all walks of the bio-community including major pharma, large and small biotech's and professional advisers. Today they have almost 300 members and ERBI is currently Europe's leading regional bio industry group.