Gantz' leadership gives biotech a needed boost
October 18, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
are expensive and grist for election year debates. Call me silly,
but I want more of those profitable pharma firms here. They pay
good wages. They offer interesting jobs. Why in the world do they
locate in New Jersey?
I'm glad Gov.
Blagojevich fights for cheaper drug imports, and I'm even happier
he supports Illinois' burgeoning biotech sector with a million-dollar
grant backing BIO 2006, an upcoming mega trade show.
But most of
all, I'm glad Bill Gantz is at the helm of iBio, a local confederation
of biotech boosters. When Gantz convenes the iBioMarketplace Conference
on Oct. 25 at Navy Pier (a prelude to the bigger show in 2006),
I'll applaud. It feels like our biotech sector is showing signs
of life on his watch.
Gantz is a
rare thing in Chicago's technology milieu. He's a proven entrepreneur
and commercial leader who's running a start-up and supporting
the community with vigor.
Gantz is the
former COO of Baxter Labs, where he spent 26 years. He left Baxter
in 1992 and launched Pathogenesis Corp. in Seattle, where he developed
an inhaled antibiotic called TOBI. In 2000, he sold the company
to Chiron Corp. for about $725 million, according to Gantz.
ago, Gantz launched Ovation Pharmaceuticals in Deerfield, with
$150 million inback from GTCR Golder Rauner. He's striving to
bring drugs to market that are overlooked, and that help difficult-to-treat
patients. And he's sensitive to the issue of the high cost of
iBioMarketplace is "a great opportunity for networking,"
says Gantz, who expects representatives from small firms and large
organizations including Abbott, Baxter, Fujisawa and Takeda. He
anticipates researchers and investors to turn up looking for deals.
There will also be a career day for university students interested
in health care.
the high cost of drugs?
enormously expensive to develop these drugs," says Gantz,
whose first start-up spent $120 million to develop a drug to treat
cystic fibrosis patients with serious lung infections.
to charge prices that make it worthwhile economically. These treatments
are actually miracles, and they turn out to be very costly."
high cost of development, Gantz says, "I don't think there's
anything more enjoyable than building a business. I'm one of those
who has no interest in retiring."
I hope Gantz
stays at it. We need the medicines he'll produce, and the jobs
recruits women here
vice president for engineering research and systems for Mountain
View, Calif.-based Google, hit town to do some recruiting.
is incredibly supportive of women in technology," says Eustace.
"Our founders are committed to building technology that's
usable by everyone around the world, and they believe women have
to be involved. They're committed and I am committed to hiring
the best women."
stops at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern,
IIT and the University of Chicago.
says the Illinois Coalition will be split into two groups when
the board meets Thursday.
the board to focus the organization on the traditional roles of
technology advocacy and seeking federal funding for science and
technology in Illinois.
Look for a
new entity to be created to oversee local technology commercialization
efforts, with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity in the driver's seat. My bet: the Coalition's Tom
Thornton goes with the new entity.
the Invention to Venture workshop Saturday, an event to encourage
student entrepreneurs. Guy Kawasaki, founder of Garage
Technology Ventures a California venture capital firm keynotes
Why do nearly
two thirds of corporate technology projects miss their objectives?
Northwestern University IT Professor Mark Jeffery explains
Wednesday at the Society for Information Management lunch at Spiaggia.
Dunning Jr. is the new director of the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
It's one of the premier tech positions in Illinois.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.