Press Release: Leading Companies Invest $1 Million in Illinois' Biotechnology Future

Leading Companies Invest $1 Million in Illinois' Biotechnology Future iBIO Institute Announces Major New Entrepreneurship Program - iBIO PROPEL CHICAGO, June 20 -- Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America,Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Astellas US, and other corporate donors today announced their support for biotechnology education and entrepreneurship in Illinois through gifts totaling nearly $1 million to the iBIO(R) Institute. The Institute is the educational arm of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization, the association that champions the life sciences in Illinois and nearby Midwest. With its goal of raising a $1 million seed fund assured, the iBIO Institute today announced that a portion of the fund will support the rollout of iBIO PROPEL, a major new educational program designed to boost the efforts of Illinois biotechnology entrepreneurs at the Molecular Biology Research Building at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The purpose of the program is to provide a 'boot camp' educational experience for entrepreneurs, teaching them the secrets of successful startups, and introducing them to an incredible range of resources. "iBIO PROPEL is an example of the public and private sectors working together to benefit our region," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. "The Midwest is a major player in this industry and this program demonstrates our commitment to fostering interest and educational opportunities in biotech for future generations." The PROPEL program, provides entrepreneurs with experienced "coaches", seasoned startup veterans who have taken companies through initial public offerings (IPOs) or major acquisitions by global firms. The coaches work with entrepreneurs to refine business strategy and resolve high-level business issues. Then coaches help entrepreneurs prepare for an intensive session where the participants' business plans and presentations are reviewed by multi-disciplinary panels of judges. Entrepreneurs apply the lessons learned to developing their companies. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., located in Deerfield, Ill., is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the United States. Takeda became the lead seed fund donor with an unrestricted $250,000 gift to the iBIO Institute. "This gift is a reflection of our strong affiliation with the Chicago area, and an indication of our deep belief in the objectives of the iBIO Institute and its role as an educational leader," said Mark Booth, president of Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America and chair of the iBIO Institute. "Education is a critical success factor to the growth of our industry, which provides solutions to global health problems and, of course, our communities through increasing reliance on the tools of biotechnology." In addition to Takeda, Baxter Healthcare Corporation contributed $250,000 to the Institute, and others have made considerable contributions as well. The majority of seed funds will be used to develop educational programs and initiatives that support development of a life sciences talent pipeline from Kindergarten all the way through adult workforce training and public education. “Baxter's commitment to sustainability is aligned with the iBIO Institute's mission," said Baxter Chief Scientific Officer Norbert Riedel, Ph.D., who also serves as iBIO's chairman of the board. "We want to foster educational opportunities from kindergarten through high school, from university research through late-stage commercialization. Supporting education will ultimately lead to tomorrow's medical breakthroughs. Collaborative efforts, such as those under the leadership of the iBIO Institute, are what will ultimately help patients around the world lead longer and healthier lives." Other significant donors to the seed fund include Astellas US and iBIO. "The new PROPEL program is an intensive, highly structured entrepreneurial education program modeled on successful accelerator projects in San Diego, Seattle, Cleveland and elsewhere," said iBIO Institute CEO David Miller. "A similar educational program in San Diego, called CONNECT(R), helped turn southern California into a biotechnology powerhouse by fueling venture capital-backed startup companies and I am certain Illinois can become a similar hotbed for emerging companies, thanks to our corporate leadership." "Illinois offers much more in the way of resources and access to markets than other communities that have established themselves as havens for start-ups -- places like San Diego, North Carolina, and Seattle," said Jack Lavin, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "Governor Blagojevich has created a business climate over that last several years that is encouraging innovation and investment, and the new PROPEL program is a great example of a unique partnership that is going to leverage our assets to create more emerging, high-tech companies, better high-paying jobs, and an even stronger economy." According to Miller, graduates of PROPEL-like programs enjoy a significantly better success rate -- as much as 60 percent better, according to follow-up studies -- than others without benefit of the experience.