Biotechnology's future always shines the brightest when you combine bright minds with real money. Steven Burrill brings both to the game.
When FierceBiotech first heard that Minnesota would be home to a potential billion-dollar venture fund to assist biotech start-ups and woo developers to the state, it reeked of hype and hopelessness.
Minnesota? Too far away. Not enough scientific talent. Too cold.
And then we heard that Burrill was involved. The merchant banker, allied with Tower Investments, says he can bring a billion dollars to bear to make a sprawling life sciences campus bloom at Elk Run. With the help of the Mayo Clinic and state lawmakers who are being asked to fund the infrastructure work, Burrill believes he can lay the groundwork for a new biotech cluster.
Burrill's experience as a biotech venture investor--combined with a long track record for telling it like it is--makes him the perfect go-to guy for this. He has credibility and access to cash. If nothing else, he's laying out the blueprint for tying VC money with scientific talent and state support into an economic development plan with real potential.
For Minnesota, which has already been developing bioscience incubators and funding R&D facilities, it's a shot at jump-starting significant development on an empty stretch of Highway 52 close to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota. Economic downturns are the right moment to get creative, and the Elk Run project could well be a trendsetter.