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for many of our early stage needs and may have to move our operations there entirely. The Bay Area offers an aspiring biotech entrepreneur an ecosystem similar to the one Seattle has for software. We were able to quickly find an incubator lab packed with other biotech startups but willing to let us come in at night from 7 pm to 7 am for about $1,000 a month. The lab offers access to the core facilities at UC San Francisco as well as discounted rates on reagents and contacts to large commercial suppliers. This kind of fertile, environment is essential to a thriving entrepreneurial sector and sadly its largely lacking in Seattle.
If Seattle is serious about being a biotech player we must invest in our entrepreneurial community. We should have incubators that are publicly or privately funded that can provide entrepreneurs with six months or a year of lab space for dirt-cheap and guidance to connect them with the existing biotech community. Tomorrow’s giant companies are built in garages today but unlike software, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has something to say about experimenting with cell culture and infectious diseases in your garage with a bag of Ranch Doritos and a Diet Coke. Such an incubator could be private or publically funded, but I think a partnership between the two would be ideal. Subsidized access to tools and exposure to potential investors for a small fee and equity stake in the company would be a great deal for entrepreneurs and Seattle.
Creating a culture conducive for life sciences entrepreneurship requires different ingredients than are required for software. The valley of death is still crossed by entrepreneurs in Seattle every year but the region could benefit greatly by improving the environment for early stage biotech entrepreneurs. Happily, Seattle already has great research and state of the art facilities. It is high time we use them to help the entrepreneurs who are building our future.
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