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October 25, 2011

Inventors and investors mingle in Tampa for BioFlorida

Filed under: Other Regional News — admin @ 3:38 pm

TAMPA, FL - The life sciences industry in Florida is flourishing, despite challenges.

That’s the message Dr. Michael Schmitt, life science analyst and editor of the Florida BioDatabase, brought to the inventors, investors and other life science professionals gathered in Tampa for the annual conference of BioFlorida.

There are 171 biotech companies in the state, up 26 percent since 2008, said Schmitt, citing new data he hadn’t yet had time to post on the database. About 25 percent of them are in the Tampa Bay area.

While the most recent MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association showed marked decreases in funding for the life sciences sector — including biotechnology and medical devices — that’s not the case in Florida, Schmitt said.

“The trend is quite positive,” he said. Venture funding for Florida life sciences doubled between 2010 and 2011, from $27 million in 2010 to $61 million through the third quarter of 2011.

There have been eight venture funding deals for life science firms so far in 2011, putting the state on pace to equal the 11 deals in 2010.

Schmitt compared the life science industry here to an egg, with a lot going on under the surface. To round out the breakfast analogy, he said the companies here also have sizzle, similar to bacon.

“When you have one A-team player, like Scripps [The Scripps Research Institute-Scripps Florida in Jupiter], other A-team players want to be here, too,” Schmitt said.

The conference, at the Marriott Tampa Waterside, drew record attendance, with 558 registered attendees, said Tom McClain, chief executive of Claro Scientific in St. Petersburg and conference chair. It continues through mid-day Oct. 25.

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