Entrepreurial Engineering Students Stage Sell-Out Biotechnology Conference
Roughly 250 people packed Hojel Auditorium in the Institute of the Americas, and the standing-room-only crowd spilled over to a nearby conference room where 30 or more attendees watched via closed-circuit TV. The day-long proceedings were also webcast live over the Internet by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a co-sponsor of the event. [Streaming videos of all the talks and panel discussions can now be viewed on-demand from the links below; Real player required.]
Royston noted that other cities have tried to emulate San Diego's success in biotech, but most have failed. "The research alone is not sufficient, because there are plenty of places with superb science," said Royston, who was on the UCSD School of Medicine faculty from 1978 to 1990, before founding the venture-capital firm Forward Ventures. "You also need three other characteristics that have developed in San Diego: scientific entrepreneurship; skilled management talent; and early-stage venture capital."
Three panels included experts who have worked on various stages of bringing biotech and biomedical inventions from the laboratory bench to the marketplace. The morning panel, "From Academia to Industry," was moderated by Paul Kedrosky, academic director of the Jacobs School of Engineering's von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement.
The final panel discussion focused on legal issues facing the biotech industry and the transfer of technology from non-profit research labs. Duane Roth, executive director of Connect (formerly UCSD Connect), moderated the panel that included attorneys from three San Diego law firms, as well as UCSD assistant vice chancellor Alan Paau, director of UCSD TechTIPS.
If it seems unlikely that a computer-engineering major would be organizing a biotechnology conference, Jung says it is not that surprising: "Computing and medicine are two rapidly merging fields, and they will become even more so in the future." Jung will apply to medical school next year, but adds, "ultimately I would like to start my own company."
Jung isn't the only engineering student bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. Many of VentureForth's officers are enrolled in the Jacobs School of Engineering. Conference organizers included vice-chair Nitin Gupta, a bioinformatics grad student; third-year bioengineering undergrad John Zacaria; and Ian Lian, a bioengineering Ph.D. candidate.
Also volunteering to help out at the May 21 event were members of the campus branch of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Reetu Singh, Jin Huang, Julianna Yeung,
Sponsors of the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Conference included biotech firms Invitrogen, Ligand Pharmaceuticals and Applied Biosystems; the law firms Latham & Watkins, Fish & Richardson, and David R. Preston & Associates; UCSD TechTIPS and Connect; and three centers affiliated with UCSD's Jacobs School: the von Liebig Center; Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering; and the UCSD Division of Calit2.
SEQUENOM's Charles Cantor on networking Length: 48:14 Conference chair and computer engineering major Kevin Jung Length: 2:09 Panel One: From Academica to Industry Length: 54:35 Panel Two: Trends in Biotech Length: 51:50 Panel Three: Legal Issues Length: 1:00:32 Forward Ventures' Ivor Royston keynote speech Length: 41:39