BIO2006 to create entrepreneurial ecosystem

March 27, 2006


As chairman of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization, Abbott Labs' Jim Tyree is fixing a serious Chicago illness: We don't spin out enough entrepreneurial growth companies. Bringing BIO2006, the global industry trade show here April 9-12, is just the first step in the Rx.

Tyree wants to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem allowing local biotech behemoths such as Abbott, Baxter, Takeda and Fujisawa to prosper and new startups to emerge.

"The city will enjoy the benefit of 30 to 35 million dollars in direct economic benefit from the 20,000 visitors who will be here for BIO2006," Tyree says. That's great for cabdrivers, waiters and hotel employees. But Tyree wants to do even more than provide a short term shot in the arm for tourism revenues. He is nurturing and networking Chicago's biotech industry and demonstrating it is world class.

"BIO2006 serves as a capstone of a three-year effort," says Tyree, who believes Chicago biotech can rival industry concentrations on the East and West coasts. "Through BIO2006, we are bringing focus to what our region has to offer. It is substantial. We decided to go after BIO2006 because it gives us a chance to bring everyone to the table."

Tyree knows jobs are moving offshore. Chicago will only prosper through innovation, investment and entrepreneurship. We need to create new companies in the new knowledge industries like biotech. BIO2006 should be a great catalyst.

Chicago lags Minneapolis

Promod Haque, Norwest Venture partners managing partner and named to Forbes magazine's top venture capitalists in 2004, believes in prosperity through innovation.

"We have to latch on to the next generation of technology," says Haque, who was here last week to address the Indus Entrepreneurs and the Illinois Venture Capital Association. Haque also stopped at Motorola to trade ideas with CEO Ed Zander's brain trust.

"Minneapolis is more entrepreneurial than Chicago," says Haque, who earned his MBA and doctorate at Northwestern University and has local roots. Haque isn't hammering Chicago. He is trying to help. He points to Minneapolis-based Medtronic and the wealth of startups that cascaded from the company.

Creating more entrepreneurs and a potent biotech ecosystem is precisely what iBio's Tyree has in mind.

Tyree's efforts are crucial. Working behind the scenes, Tyree has knit together a coalition of top leaders from industry, government, academia and the not-for-profit sector to boost Chicago's entrepreneurial pros-pects for the long term.

Tyree isn't doing it alone. He's not seeking credit. He's building an ecosystem.

Tyree, who serves as senior vice president of Abbott Nutrition International, enjoys enthusiastic support from his boss, Abbott Labs CEO Miles White. Without Abbott's backing, there might not be a BIO2006 in Chicago.

Then there's the $1 million provided by the state of Illinois, and the support of Mayor Daley. BIO2006 clearly is the result of a potent public sector/ private sector partnership.

While last-minute preparations are under way for BIO2006, Tyree is looking ahead. He wants to bring the program back to Chicago in 2010. That's a great idea. After all, Chicago's too big a berg to play entrepreneurial second fiddle to Minneapolis.

Midwest Gateway to India

Chicago takes another step at becoming the Midwest gateway to India when Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani speaks at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Hyde Park campus Tuesday night.

Nilekani is a co-founder of the $2 billion global tech services company based in Bangalore. The fireside chat will be moderated by Dean Ted Snyder. Watch for Nilekani to address the continuing flattening of the world and the skills needed to win in the new environment.

Celebrating biotech

The Economic Development Council convenes Wednesday at the Tower Club to review Chicago's biotech commercialization efforts. Members are celebrating more than $100 million in local biotech commercialization investments since the first of the year, including $44 million at the Illinois Medical District Technology Park and $50 million in funding at Northwestern, the U. of C. and UIC.

Speakers include: UIC professor Brenda Russell, Illinois Medical District Chief of Staff Mich Hein and UIC Assistant Vice Chancellor David Gulley.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.


 ©2006 Marion Consulting Partners