Gov. Gregoire “Committed” to Biotech Fund While Juggling DC Health Reform, Economy

9/22/09Follow @xconomy

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for an innovative idea, but the ultrasound is from a local venture-backed ultrasound company, Bothell, WA-based Ekos.

The Governor could have used a little more briefing on the technology—she flubbed the technical term “thrombolysis” which essentially means clot-busting. “You can tell I’m a lawyer, not a doctor,” she joked.

Gregoire has obviously left the details in the hands of Huntsman, the former bioengineering professor at the University of Washington and interim UW president, and Rogers Weed, Washington’s new Secretary of Commerce. Gregoire said she meets with Weed almost daily to talk about how to spur the local high tech and life sciences economy.

Huntsman provided a brief progress report on what the state taxpayers are getting for their money. He didn’t say much that was really new beyond what we reported a year ago about the strategy of the life sciences fund, but he did add an observation. Just by having the state money available, it has gotten researchers excited to think big, and come up with new ideas that may get funded by the state for a while, and then get funded by the feds or investors for years to come.

A wide variety of projects from scientists across the state have gotten funding for projects that include new vaccines, treatment of cardiac arrest, mental health research, and the development of a new form of wheat that can people can eat if they have Celiac disease, which makes them intolerant to the usual grain.

“I can say the state of Washington is teeming with good ideas, outstanding ideas,” Huntsman said. “This is a tool that can launch and leverage them so other people will support them. This is advancing the ecosystem.”

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  • http://www.spreadingscience.com/ Richard Gayle

    I was at the summit and noticed the shift in rhetoric also. It may be for the best. Creating jobs is sometimes a pretty nebulous metric, one that does not really foretell the health and effectiveness of this particular industry.

    The things that demonstrate long term health in biotech are useful medical products in the clinic. Otherwise we are just having government and venture capital fund jobs, not drug development.

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