NCBIO, the trade organization for North Carolina biotechnology companies, expects about 200 to 250 at its annual meeting at the NC Biotechnology Center Thursday. Sam Taylor, NCBIO president, said that in addition to two key note speakers, the event will include a review of state and federal policies related to biotech, including what the NC legislature did this year.

Speakers include key notes by James C. Mullen, CEO of Patheon, who will the relatively new business of contract development/contract manufacturing in the biopharmaceutical space. “He’ll speak about his vision for the company and where he thinks the industry is headed with this trend of biopharma outsourcing these types of services,” Taylor says.

Jon Hammack, managing director, Head of Medical Technology, Healthcare Investment Banking, MOELIS & Co., will discuss the biotech financial markets, the IPO window, and what the future may hold, which is, Taylor notes, “Always of interest to companies.”

Taylor will wrap up the event with an overview of state and federal biotechnology policies.

State of the state in biotech

While the biotech industry did not get everything it wanted from the state budget this year, Taylor says, “I think we’re batting 500, which is probably pretty good. I’d love to bat 500 as a baseball player.” The legislature did fund the NC Biotechnology Center fully on a recurring basis. “We haven’t seen the Center fully funded on a recurring basis for two years before,” Taylor says.

“That’s a very solid commitment to the Center,” Taylor notes.

Also, he says, “We got a little more in the SBIR and STTR matching grant programs and the Venture multiplier fund was created. “We’ll see how that plays out. If everything falls into place it could attract additional venture dollars to NC.” The One North Carolina Small Business Funds provides state matching grants to North Carolina companies that win Phase I SBIR/STTR grants from federal agencies.

What the organization did not get, despite lobbying for it and gaining approval in the NC House, was a program to fund pre-licensure development of technology in NC universities. Taylor says one of the reasons technology transfer from the universities is “so difficult in NC” is that its so difficult to tell which companies could lead to a billion dollar company and which are likely to fall flat. “There isn’t enough development being done to characterize them and eliminate some of the risk,” Taylor explains.

The proposed program would have devoted about $1 million to that type of investigation, ultimately rising to $5 million had it been funded. It died in a Senate committee, but Taylor says NCBIO will bring it up again.

“It just makes sense and fits with what the legislature wants to do,” he says. “