Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle spoke at the launch conference, conducted in Smyrna at the North American headquarters of UBC, the Belgium-based biopharmaceutical company that created such medicines as Zyrtec.
"Georgia has emerged as the national leader in the growth of bioenergy, and we have the tools to lead the nation," Cagle said. "This is a critical step, to bring resources together and have a formal relationship and collaboration in place so that we can help these businesses grow and provide jobs. This is the future of the economy of Georgia."
Bioscience has a broad definition, but put simply, any branch of bioscience deals with living organisms. Bioscientists often deal with medicine, bacteria, plant life and environmental protection.
Through a faculty of 23 bioscience business leaders, the nonprofit GBCC will offer free advice to help get new bioscience creations get to market. The experienced executives will offer assistance with things such as reviewing and refining start-up concepts; drafting solid business plans; identifying investors; finding incubator space; and navigating the drug and device regulatory pathways.
The GBCC will also provide referrals to providers of services from accounting to sales. For entrepreneurs getting started, all of this is free. Companies listed in the GBCC's providers directory pay a fee of $950 per year.
A $40,000 grant from two nonprofits, Georgia Bio and the Georgia Research Alliance, financed the beginnings of the GBCC, which Laurence Downey, M.D., former president and CEO of Marietta's Solvay Pharmaceuticals, said had been in the works for more than a year.
"This is a commercial center now, but this is just the start. We hope the capabilities and budget will grow so we can achieve success and help other companies to also become successful," Downey said.
The GBCC operates mainly through its online presence at www.georgiabcc.com, but is physically housed at the Georgia Bio headquarters at 1180 Peachtree Street, N.E. in Atlanta.
Bryan White, chairman and co-founder of apothe-Linx, Inc., a Georgia-based, online company that connects healthcare practitioners directly to drug firms, was one of the first entrepreneurs to engage the GBCC faculty. When he needed help, Downey assembled some of the faculty members to sit down with White and review his business.
"I had expertise, but I found out starting your own company is a whole other beast," White said. "I reached out to the GBCC to help me fill some holes, and their honest opinions, access to information, help with strategies and contacts helped enormously. I never could have been where I am now without them."
Cagle touted the $16 billion economic impact of the industry in Georgia, and said that the 862 bioscience firms here have created more than 60,000 jobs - about 18,000 of which are full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $63,000.
"We've made some great strides, but looking forward, we have to be creative. The $10 million in tax credits that just passed this year is a great step, but, in my opinion, the next level needs to be based off the European level, where we partner with venture funds so that the state doesn't run them but becomes a partner," Cagle said.
Local faculty members of GBCC include: Rob Derricotte, president of Medical Marketing Insights, in Smyrna; Paul Fitzpatrick, president of PJ Fitzpatrick Executive Advisory Group, in Marietta; Stephen Hill, president, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Marietta; Bill Taylor, president and chief operating officer of MiMedx Group, Inc., in Marietta; and Tony Tebbutt, a consultant in Smyrna.
Other faculty members are Ellen Bailey, director of Midtown Consulting Group; Tom Callaway, M.D., founder of Georgia Venture Partners; Gareth Clarke, a consultant; Bill Dracos, of PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Doug Gooding of Altiris Therapeutics; David Hartnett, of the Metro Atlanta Chamber; Karen Kaplan of Fleishman Hillard; Walt Addison Linscott, of Thompson Hine; Frank McDaniel, of McDaniel & Henry; Susan Nicholas of Singrid Investments; Chris Offen, CEO of Wynden Pharmaceuticals LLC in Alpharetta; Russell Plumb, president and CEO of Inhibitex, Inc., Alpharetta; Ed Schutter, of Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Raleigh, N.C.; Harold Shlevin, PhD., ATDC, Georgia Institute of Technology; Tom Stribling, of Northampton Medical; Rick Timmer, of AIM Therapeutics, Toronto; and Jay Yadav, M.D., chairman and CEO, CardioMEMS, Inc.