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Biosciences Institute Planned, But Plan Is Short On Detail

Officials say the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute will be the first of its kind in the nation.

Eli Lilly’s corporate headquarters Thursday saw the announcement of creation of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute – a project aimed at breaking down barriers between thinkers at the state’s universities and Indiana’s biotech companies.

The plan could reap big rewards for the state if leaders can create a framework for how to raise money and divide future profits.

Governor Mike Pence may have summed Thursday’s announcement up best with three short words.

“This is big,” he says.

But as a video played touting what the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute might do, the project and its estimated $360 million cost seemed so big as to be almost unwieldy in the short term.

The state legislature has allocated $25 million to the venture and another $25 million in private donations is being sought to pay a still-to-be-named CEO and other officials.

That leaves the project as much as $300 million short of its goal.

But that does not faze BioCrossroads CEO David Johnson, who emceed Thursday’s event.

“If we are smart about how the funding plan gets put together, you’re looking at a three-, four-, five-year period where we ought to be able to get the Institute fully funded,” Johnson says. “As it takes momentum and speed, as we get a CEO, as it starts to do things, obviously the funding discussion gets much more focused on what we’re doing.”

But leaders of the participating companies mentioned there’s not yet a plan for how to share ideas, patents or money generated by the collaboration, either.

“You need an intellectual property framework that is stable going forward,” says Dow Agrosciences President and CEO Antonio Galindez.

“This is a two-way street,” says Eli Lilly Vice President Bart Peterson. “Academia has to do a better job of being receptive to working with industry and industry has to do a better job of reaching out and understanding how to work with academia.”

If agreements are reached on such a framework, the team would be strong, featuring input from Indiana-based industry leaders such as Cook and Roche.

But those contracts are a long way from being signed.

Update 10:50 a.m.

Governor Mike Pence and life science company officials announced Thursday the creation a life sciences research center that will partner private businesses and research universities.

Indiana Biosciences Research Institute aims to boost the state’s life sciences industry, which ranks in the top five in the nation.

“This is big,” Pence said twice at the announcement, which was held at the Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis.

The governor says the center should create jobs, attract talent from around the world and retain more Hoosier graduates in the state.

Original Post:

Governor Mike Pence and leaders in the Indiana life sciences industry are announcing the creation of a life sciences research institute.

Biocrossroads, an advocacy group for the state’s life sciences companies, says the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute is the first of its kind in the nation.

Details of the center’s focus and business model will be outlined at a 10 a.m. press conference, which representatives from Cook Group, Dow AgroSciences, Indiana University Health and Eli Lilly, among others, will attend.

Biocrossroads had been advocating for a research center for some time.

In August of last year, the group released a report outlining the need for a better communications network between the state’s life sciences companies and research institutes.

Earlier this year, the organization released another report showing the life sciences contributes $50 billion to the state economy.

Brandon Smith and Gretchen Frazee contributed to this report.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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