By Will Pedranti
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Americans born in 2008 can expect to live 78.1 years. That’s an increase of a full decade since 1950 and a staggering increase of 30 years since 1900. Unfortunately, as they age into those bonus years, their bodies will suffer from more conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.
Innovative new drug therapies and medical device technology will be needed to treat these conditions. In addition, innovation from new drug products and medical devices will be demanded by government and consumers, in part as they attempt to control the rising cost of health care.
With ingenuity built into America’s DNA, it isn’t a question for the medical industry of whether that innovation will take place; it’s where that innovation will take place.
When we think of biotech, we often think of cities such as San Diego, Boston and San Francisco. Life-science companies have started in these locations because they have a strong commitment from government, academic institutions, private enterprise and industry associations, which work together to encourage and support innovation.
Oklahoma’s numbers are smaller by comparison, but we have assembled all the elements for sustained growth. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Oklahoma State University are discovering groundbreaking new compounds, developing new medical devices and spinning out businesses with which to take it all to market.
We have an excellent supporting cast. The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, the nonprofit i2E, Inc., the Oklahoma Bioscience Association (OKBio) and business accelerators throughout the state, fund research, invest in new ventures and mentor entrepreneurs. More than three dozen life science companies have established offices and research laboratories at Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park.
Oklahoma’s reputation as a locale for life sciences innovation has been enhanced over the past decade by its growing presence at the annual BIO International Convention, the largest biotech convention in the world. Led by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and OKBio, a delegation of 80-plus scientists, entrepreneurs and economic development professionals has established the state as a serious contender in the industry.
With the good business climate we have in Oklahoma, there’s no reason we can’t build on this momentum, keep our innovation at home and attract outside companies. This will take continued commitment from the state and all of these organizations. Oklahoma can become one of the great centers for the advancement of medical science to improve the lives of all people — young and old — around the world.
Pedranti, an attorney in Hall Estill’s corporate services group, has extensive experience in the areas of health care and life sciences.