A panel of Indiana life sciences experts on Friday said the state could become more competitive for large investments and jobs if it doubled down on the kind of collaborations and partnerships that other states have used to their advantage.
They made their comments at IBJ’s Life Sciences Power Breakfast at the Westin Indianapolis hotel before a crowd of more than 200 people.
“Let’s foster collaboration when we are sometimes rivals,” said Kent Hawryluk, president and CEO of MBX Biosciences, a Carmel-based startup developing therapies for endocrine diseases. His company has recently raised more than $34 million in early-stage financing, one of the largest amounts of any Indiana biotech in recent years.
He added: “Remember, Boston became not only a biotech hub, but a genetic medicines hub, because you have a critical mass of biopharmaceutical companies that are commercializing technology that came out of academic research institutions. So let’s drive success at Purdue, at IU, at IUPUI, and Rose-Hulman.”
(Below, Hawryluk discusses the startup’s path to clinical trials, its team of veteran collaborators and the state of the life sciences startup community in Indiana.)
NiCole R. Keith, an investigator at Regenstrief Institute and associate dean of faculty affairs at IUPUI’s School of Health & Human Sciences, said Indiana is full of research institutions that it can leverage.
“We have these cross-sectoral strategies with different disciplines that can improve health outcomes,” she said.
Marcela Kirberger, general counsel at Elanco Animal Health, said public-private partnerships helped the state respond to the pandemic with testing and treatments, and can rise to the challenge.
“I think of what makes Indiana great,” she said. “Why are companies here? … Why are Indiana companies exporting at a record pace? So I think we need to double down on what makes Indiana great.”
Dr. Brandy Matthews, a specialist in dementia treatments and associate vice president of U.S. and global medical affairs at Eli Lilly and Co., said Indiana has a big role to play, and gave her a chance to succeed by getting her undergraduate degree from Ball State University and her medical degree from Indiana University.
“I would say that, as a first-generation college student who was educated in rural Indiana, I believe in Indiana as an incubator for ideas and for opportunity and will continue to advocate in that direction,” she said.
Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships at Purdue University, said talent is critical to success, and clusters of research talent in Massachusetts, North Carolina and other states have made a difference.
“All of the regions have invested significantly in building out training and research facilities—very, very significant in training thousands of students a year, bringing in people for training and upskilling for private-public partnerships.”
She added: “And we’re really having in-depth conversations with many stakeholders throughout the state of Indiana to really try to move this concept forward here and build on our strengths and ensure that we are providing those opportunities, as other states and other countries have really recognized the importance of those investments.”