Opinion and Editorials

EDITORIAL: Doubling down on life sciences is right idea

December 22, 2012

The Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s proposal to create a $30 million venture fund dedicated to life sciences startups is good news for a valuable sector of our state economy that has been losing out to the more investor-friendly high-tech sector.

Venture capital firms across the country have turned their attention to information technology and advanced manufacturing opportunities that require less capital and mature more quickly than life sciences startups.

Enter IEDC, which recognizes the long-term potential of leveraging the state’s inherent strengths in life sciences. From Eli Lilly and Co., to Cook Group to the orthopedics cluster in the northeast corner of the state, Indiana has a long history in the sector. And new-generation companies like Bioanalytical Systems, Endocyte and Marcadia Biotech show great promise or have been scooped up by other local players, like Roche Diagnostics.

We hope the Legislature looks favorably on IEDC’s plan to give the life sciences sector, and its promise of quality jobs, a boost while the broader investment community looks the other way.

Ring out year with symphony gift

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is almost halfway to its goal of raising $5 million by Feb. 3, thanks to generous gifts from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and ISO board member Yvonne Shaheen. It’s up to us to donate the rest.

The owners of the professional sports team both pledged $750,000 and Shaheen offered a $500,000 challenge grant. Those gifts and others mean the ISO needs to raise $2.65 million in a little over a month.

Krzysztof Urbanski ISO Conductor Krzysztof Urbanski is the youngest leader of a major U.S. orchestra.

The stakes are high. The group that’s been making music around the world since 1930 needs the money to be able to lock in terms of a five-year contract agreed upon in mid-October. The pact ended a bitter labor dispute that resulted in the cancellation of the first five weeks of the orchestra’s season, but the symphony board made the deal contingent on meeting the fundraising goal.

Meeting the goal will also unlock a $2 million Lilly Endowment grant to be used to secure new funding commitments and to upgrade seating at Hilbert Circle Theatre, the ISO’s home.

If the money isn’t raised, the Endowment grant won’t be paid, musicians will once again be without a contract—and one of the city’s cultural icons will be at risk.

Having a top-notch symphony in a city speaks to some audiences in the same way that having professional sports teams speaks to others. The owners of those teams have acknowledged as much with their generous gifts. And the symphony musicians have given as well, agreeing to sacrifice 32 percent of their salary in the first year of the new contract.

Feb. 3 will be here before we know it. The time is now to dig deep and give the ISO a chance to play for years to come.•

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