America’s first industry-driven life sciences research institute

by Ryan Streeter on May 31, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

It was a great day today for life sciences innovation. Indiana Governor Mike Pence and life sciences executives gathered at Eli Lilly and Co. to launch the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, the only truly industry-driven life sciences research organization in America.

It’s built upon the unique collaborative environment in Indiana’s life sciences sector, which itself stems from the diversity of Indiana’s life sciences companies:

“Everyone is collaborating,” said Darren J. Carroll, Lilly’s vice president for corporate business development and a member of the institute’s board of directors. “What we weren’t doing so well, candidly, was collaborating with each other.”

Dow AgroSciences, for instance, has collaborated with many institutes, said Douglas Ry Wagner, the company’s global new ventures and technology leader. Most of those, however, were several time zones away, some as far as Australia.

A hometown institute would make such collaborations easier — and keep money within the state. Studies suggest that a good portion of the $6 billion that Indiana’s life sciences industry spends on research and development winds up outside of the state. If Indiana could maintain just 5 percent of that sum, studies suggest, that would result in an economic impact of more than $250 million.

Indiana also sits in a unique position because few of its major life sciences companies compete with one another. Lilly, Dow AgroSciences, and Roche each have their own market niches.

“A new era”

Placing the emphasis on collaboration rather than competition may also hasten development of drugs and other products and make Indiana more competitive, those involved say.

“The IBRI will increase the amount and speed of commercialization in Indiana’s life sciences sector,” Ryan Streeter, Pence’s senior economic adviser, said in an email. “We believe the institute will help bring Indiana’s life sciences into a new era of investment and will create more high-wage jobs.”