Forum showcases city innovators in life sciences

The room was packed with “rock stars,” though few outside their industries would know them. But to Stephen Lane, CEO and co-founder of Providence-based Ximedica, the speakers’ prominence in the life sciences was a sign of things to come in the city’s developing Knowledge District. More

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LIFE SCIENCES

Forum showcases city innovators in life sciences

COURTESY GORA COMMUNICATIONS/ANGELA GORA INNOVATIVE THOUGHTS: Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University, gives welcoming remarks at the cocktail reception for the Life Sciences Technology Showcase.
Posted 10/24/11

The room was packed with “rock stars,” though few outside their industries would know them. But to Stephen Lane, CEO and co-founder of Providence-based Ximedica, the speakers’ prominence in the life sciences was a sign of things to come in the city’s developing Knowledge District.

Lane, whose company is a contract developer and manufacturer of medical devices, said the panelists gathered Oct. 12 for the Life Sciences Technology Showcase were, “real investors, real technology scouts – corporate and private – I think there was a concentrated quality in that room that was palpable and exciting,” he said.

“People were networking and understanding more about what’s happening here in Providence [and] that’s the ultimate value – we’ve started a conversation that’s repeatable … sustainable. That’s the most important thing to developing this community in the Knowledge District,” he said.

The one-day event, hosted by the R.I. Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Brown University’s Technology Ventures Office and the Warren Alpert Medical School, began with an “open studio walkabout” of four early-stage companies in the Knowledge District: NABsys, Epivax, Shape Up and Isis Biopolymer.

“What we wanted to do is say: Hey, there’s activity [in Providence] already and here are four companies that are growing, are looking for more resources in terms of money and people,” said Brendan McNally, director of RI-CIE. Basically – don’t fly by on the Acela. Make a stop in Providence.

“We don’t have as developed an ecosystem of researchers and financiers and entrepreneurs as exist in the Boston market, so therein lies the opportunity: we are more formative; we are potentially more creative and more flexible in our collaborations,” said Lane.

“I think we are more opportunistic and eager to establishing relationships and [that] is a very good thing when you come from a more mature market,” he added.

Chris Hobson, recently appointed president and CEO of Isis Biopolymer, said he had 15 to 20 people stop by during the walkabout. His company’s technology combined miniaturization and microcomputing with advanced life-science knowledge to produce a noninvasive treatment for facial wrinkles.

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