Dr. Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD gave the keynote address for the 4th Annual Wake Forest School of Business Biotechnology Conference and Case Competition on February 8, 2013 at the Scales Fine Art Center. The room was filled with brilliant minds from across the country, including MBA students, scientists, doctors, lawyers and engineers. His key message: Boosting Innovation. The discussion was based on the revolutionary transformation that is taking place at Piedmont Triad Research Park, one of the fastest growing urban research parks in the United States. Nearly 200 acres on the eastern side of downtown Winston Salem are being repurposed in a radical way. It is a matter of creating an exciting environment that is sustainable, giving people a place to live, work, play and learn.
“By the end of 2014, PTRP will generate $520 million plus in spent or planned investments and create work for around 2,800 people,” Tomlinson said. He stressed the importance of it being a collaborative opportunity and effort; however it will require additional investment to see the vision through and create what he calls, a new town.
In July of 2012, Dr. Eric Tomlinson became the President of the Piedmont Triad Research Park and the Chief Innovation Officer for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He started his journey at the University of London where he received his doctorates in medicinal chemistry and drug science. Now he is known to be one of the industry’s leaders in both the scientific and business worlds specializing in biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies. A few of his achievements include: raising over $100 million dollars in private, public and partnership money while head of GeneMedicine, Inc., he is a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, he is an author and co-author of over 230 articles in scientific journals, he has held academic appointments in the U.S. and in Europe, including at the University of Amsterdam as a Professor in Pharmacy, and he is a founder of Metaclipse Therapeutics Corporation, a young company working on treating cancers.
Dr. Tomlinson spoke for about 30 minutes and started off by congratulating the hard work of the eight teams competing in this year’s case competition, sponsored by Boston Scientific. The room erupted into laughter as Tomlinson joked, “I realize that you’re all business students, when I heard the word cash was mentioned, I saw smiles come across your faces.” Then he thanked his superior, Dr. John McConnell, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and said “We’ve set out along a path to boost the innovative potential for Wake Forest and this community and in doing so; we’ve established a whole new operating division called Wake Forest Innovations, it has a very simple mission which is, to generate new streams of income for Wake Forest based on creating new business and new partnerships with the outside, and to do that, founded on our intellectual discoveries, our technology, our products developed within the inside of the Wake Forest system, income that is generated from that, of course comes back to support our faculty and investigators.”
This holistic approach creates a full circle that benefits not only the community, but the quality of life for patients. Dr. Tomlinson made it clear that his job is to turn this vision into reality.
Following Dr. Tomlinson’s message, a panel discussion took place focusing on innovative healthcare, transformational technologies, and the challenges and opportunities of life science business developments. The panel consists of four members: Anthony Atala, MD, Director of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Banks Bourne, Senior Managing Director and CEO of Bourne Partners, John McConnell, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Derrick Lenz, Group Manager and Marketing of Urology and Women’s Health Division at Boston Scientific. Leading the discussion was Justin Catanoso, Senior lecturer and Director of Journalism at Wake Forest University. During this time, members from the eight teams had an opportunity to ask questions.
Overall, the evening was a huge success. Creative, talented minds from various expertise expressed their concerns in overcoming challenge and creating opportunity, decreasing patients cost while increasing their quality. There are transformations happening in this region that will set the bar in what it means to be an innovator and how it is achieved.