Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Summit will put spotlight on life sciences momentum

The upcoming 2021 East West Life Science Summit is the kind of event the Spokane area needs for broad exposure, promotion, and continued economic development of the growing life sciences community here. Life Science Wash

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The upcoming 2021 East West Life Science Summit is the kind of event the Spokane area needs for broad exposure, promotion, and continued economic development of the growing life sciences community here.

Life Science Washington, the umbrella organization behind the event, is headquartered in Seattle, but has membership organizations and board representation from across the state. The goal of the summit is to foster cross-state collaboration in life science research, innovation, and, entrepreneurship throughout the state.

The one-day event, titled Innovation Here First and scheduled for Sept. 9, is heavy in panelist participation from Spokane and Eastern Washington companies and organizations.

It’s unfortunate that the recent COVID surge triggered the decision to hold the summit virtually instead of in-person, but there could be a silver lining to the format. Stacia Rasmussen, life sciences business development manager at Greater Spokane Incorporated, says she and other local organizers are optimistic the online event’s reach will extend beyond Washington, span the U.S., and potentially provide some international exposure.

“It will go out far and wide,” Rasmussen says.

The event will highlight the momentum of Spokane’s growing life sciences sector over the last few years by featuring startups and maturing businesses that have started or moved here.

For example, Marcelo Morales, founder of life sciences investment group A4 Ventures LLC and former Jubilant HollisterStier CEO, will shine a spotlight on three leaders of woman-owned microbiology culture media company S2Media, who will tell the company’s story of success in the COVID era.

Summit attendees also will hear success stories from executives from other young Spokane-area life sciences companies, including Photon Biosciences LLC, Crimson Medical Solutions Inc., Parrots Inc., and Appiture Biotechnologies Inc.

The summit also will feature panel of leaders from regional and statewide organizations that help grow life sciences companies, including the Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County, Washington State University’s sp3nw, University of Washington’s CoMotion Labs, and Seattle-based Washington Research Foundation.

Another panel will bring attention to ongoing talent development for innovation, the higher education pipeline here, and the available workforce. The summit also will reveal how students and workers are being exposed to life sciences and encouraged to pursue careers in the innovative industry sector.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sandeep Patel, director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Division of Research, Ventures and Innovation, or BARDA DRIVe. One key significance of BARDA is that it works with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a venture arm that assists in developing products and technologies that help the U.S. respond to health and security threats.

Importantly for the Spokane-area life sciences ecosystem, Patel has agreed to come here to speak directly to local entrepreneurs and provide advice and assistance to them regarding potential grant funding.

The East West Life Science Summit will benefit Spokane and Eastern Washington, because it will show that Spokane is positioned well to support innovative companies involved in research and development in health care and attract the capital that will keep our life sciences momentum rolling.

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