BioNJ Headlines – February 2012

BioNJ Participates in Senate Democratic Committee Roundtable Discussion on Job Creation, Local Economy

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) hosted two New Jersey business leaders at a discussion on February 1 with Senate Democrats about how they and other small and medium businesses are strengthening local economies and creating jobs, and about how their efforts may be replicated nationally. Jim Brennan, President of Sea Box, Inc., of East Riverton, and Debbie Hart, President of BioNJ of Trenton, joined Senator Menendez for the meeting, which was attended by Senators and local business owners from 12 states.

Senator Robert Menendez and BioNJ President Debbie Hart

Senator Robert Menendez and BioNJ President Debbie Hart discuss the potential of the biotechnology industry to create new jobs during a Senate Democratic Committee Hearing.

“Today was a great opportunity to hear from two top-notch New Jersey businesspeople — Jim Brennan of Sea Box and Debbie Hart of BioNJ — who understand how important it is for Washington to help create a climate where they can thrive and grow and where new businesses can start and flourish,” said Menendez. “Now it is our job to take what we heard from those small business owners who have tried and succeeded and help other small businesses do the same. We have to do everything we can to create an environment that is conducive to business growth and a strong private sector.”

“Given the state of the economy, sessions such as this where we can share good economic results and news and consider strategies for generating more of the same can only mean good things,” said Debbie Hart. “It will allow legislators to see what’s working and learn how these results were generated and to consider and assess the potential for repeating such results. It is opportunities such as this that can get us closer to the end of this economic downturn and give us hope for the economic future of this country.”

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Chromocell Milestone Celebrates Collaboration between Business, Government

The following was reported in NJBIZ by Jared Kaltwasser.

A range of government officials — from the federal to the local level — came together in North Brunswick on February 9 to make the case that collaboration with industry can translate into tangible job growth.

Jane Oates, assistant U.S. secretary of labor for employment and training, spent Thursday attending a town hall at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, before touring the North Brunswick offices of Chromocell Corp., a biotech firm that this week celebrated the hiring of its 100th employee.

Oates, a former executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, said Chromocell’s story underscores the value of public colleges.

“Businesses, if they want to be as great as they can be, have to partner with education,” she said. “And education has to listen, and not just talk, to business.”

Chromocell used funding from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Customized Training Grant Program to work with Middlesex County College to develop classes for Chromocell employees. The classes were taught on-site at the company’s offices.

New Jersey Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said his department gave out $17 million in customized training grants last year, which benefited 367 businesses and helped train 48,600 workers. The grant program also leveraged a total of $26.7 million in matching private-sector funds.

Christian Kopfli, Chromocell’s CEO, said the training programs are particularly beneficial for small companies like his, which are under pressure to meet the demands of clients at a fast pace.

“It’s incredibly helpful to get the workforce to the point where you can quickly deliver,” he said.

Joann La Perla-Morales, president of Middlesex County College, said Chromocell’s story demonstrates the widening scope of community colleges.

“You usually associate community colleges with working in lower-level skill programs,” she said. “But here, we’re working in biostatistics, for example.”

Middlesex is one of 19 member colleges in New Jersey’s College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, which coordinate to provide training services to a range of industries.

Oates called the consortium a unique asset.

“When I was here in New Jersey, I didn’t really appreciate that it was the only one of its kind,” she said. “In every other state, colleges are competing against each other.”

Chromocell’s offices are another example of government easing the way for startups. It’s housed at a technology incubator operated by the state Economic Development Authority.

Debbie Hart, who heads the state’s biotechnology trade group, BioNJ, said government can play a critical role in meeting the needs of companies like Chromocell.

“It’s a large community, and obviously there are many, many needs, but we’re very fortunate in New Jersey,” she said. “All of these partners — the federal government, state government and industry — are very important.”

Update on BioNJ Patient Advocacy Initiative

The growing trend of patient advocacy organizations partnering with companies to develop and advance innovative therapies and cures is becoming an important driver in the growth of the biotechnology industry in New Jersey and around the globe.

New Jersey is a critical and long-term agent in the advancement of human health. Our State has a vibrant biotech cluster, and the time is right to publicly note, educate, and support both existing and future collaboration between patient advocates and biotech communities.

In coordination with several of our Core Member Companies, BioNJ has formed a Patient Advocacy Committee and is conducting a brief survey to assess the current level of interaction between patient disease organizations and companies.

Please click here to take our survey or ask the appropriate person at your company to take the survey.

The goal of the survey is to gather information and assist companies that are conducting or are considering developing patient advocacy programs by identifying trends, best practices, and areas for improvement. To that end, a webinar is being planned for the spring of 2012.

The BioNJ Patient Advocacy Committee includes representation from the following companies:

  • Amicus Therapeutics
  • Archimedes Pharma
  • Celgene Corporation
  • Dendreon Corporation
  • ImClone Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company
  • PTC Therapeutics
  • Sanofi

BioNJ Seeks Your Ideas on Improving Purchasing Program

BioNJ, in partnership with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), our vendors, and on behalf of our Members, delivers great value to our Members by leveraging our combined purchasing power to negotiate contracts with various suppliers. Through BioNJ’s Purchasing Program, Members can take advantage of the collective buying power their Membership creates.

BioNJ will be conducting a short survey regarding this Purchasing Program.

Please email Debbie Mennito at BioNJ Headquarters or call her at 609-890-3185 to provide your company’s correct contact person for this important survey or to find out more about this program.

BioNJ to Participate in New Women’s Clinical Leadership Forum

Program Positions Women to Succeed in the Drug Development and Clinical Trial Industry

The 2012 Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference and exposition taking place in Orlando will on March 4 convene the inaugural Women’s Clinical Leadership Forum, a unique professional development program for women specializing in clinical trial outsourcing and operations for the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries and their CRO partners.

In addition to a prestigious list of top women executives from biopharma companies and CROs, the forum will feature Moira Forbes, President of ForbesWoman — a recognized authority on women’s business and leadership issues — and FDA Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health Marsha Henderson, whose office is co-sponsoring the forum.

According to keynote speaker Debbie Hart, President of the New Jersey biotechnology trade association BioNJ, the Women’s Clinical Leadership Forum satisfies an important, unmet need among women in the clinical development sector to interact, exchange ideas, and address mutual challenges with their peers.

“Women are underrepresented in the biotech industry — particularly at the senior level — and the clinical trials sector is no exception,” said Hart. “The industry is rapidly changing, and we have a responsibility to help our companies, clients, and partners navigate those changes. We must be prepared to lead, and that’s really what this forum is all about.”

Click here to learn more.