James Robinson, who spent just over a year as Alkermes’ chief operating officer, is taking up the same position at biotech incubator Paragon Biosciences. The announcement comes two weeks after Alkermes announced his departure for “personal reasons.”
What gets Robinson out of bed in the mornings is serving patients, especially the neediest ones. Though his title is the same at Paragon as it was at Alkermes, he will be “going about this mission in a different way—a combination of creating a portfolio of independently run companies and supporting these companies to get them off the ground.”
In the newly created position, Robinson will “oversee delivery of the Innovation Capital that Paragon contributes exclusively to its portfolio companies,” the incubator said in a statement.
So, what does that mean?
“My plate is going to include the opportunity to oversee Paragon Biosciences’ operations—including business units, functional services, acting HR,” said Robinson, who goes by Jim. “And what’s really important in getting early-stage portfolio companies off the ground is also evaluating opportunities, feasibility analysis, understanding the financial aspect of getting these companies up and running, including the initial operational support.” As the startups progress, Robinson will also manage clinical and regulatory support.
Paragon’s portfolio companies run the gamut of pharmaceuticals, enabled life sciences products and cell and gene therapies. It is incubating two companies and has launched four, including Castle Creek Pharma, which is working on gene therapies for rare diseases.
Robinson is eager to hit the ground running, having known and “been a fan” of Paragon CEO Jeff Aronin “for quite a while.” But the move is a little bittersweet. From his early days at Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals to Astellas, it’s always been about the people: “No matter where I am, I’ve been very fortunate to work with great people, have the chance to be on a team with great people or be mentored by great people,” he said.
“In the end, the people piece is always the hard part and it’s the same thing with Alkermes. There are great people here and I’ve really enjoyed my time. I’m going to miss the people for sure.”