There is a message in holding the Welcome Reception for BIO-Europe Spring® 2014 at Turin’s National Automobile Museum. Touring the progression of innovations for one of the region’s traditional industries provides a hint of the successes life sciences executives can expect to find with Piedmont’s embrace of biotechnology.
“Our region is well known for good food and wine, yet people may not realize how large our agrofood industry truly is, exporting world-class brands,” said Fabrizio Conicella, Director Business Development, Bioindustry Park Silvano Fumero and bioPmed Health Care Cluster Coordinator, the host for the BIO-Europe Spring reception.
Fabrizio Conicella, Director Business Development, Bioindustry Park Silvano Fumero and bioPmed Health Care Cluster Coordinator
“We are also one of the biggest regions for the aerospace and automotive industries, and in the past 10 years we have grown to become one of the top three regions in Italy for life sciences,” he said.
Mixing tradition with novel approaches, fostering a cross-fertilization between diverse sectors, has driven the success of the science and technology park that today is home to multinational companies, high growth enterprises and startups.
“Life sciences is both a sector developing rapidly on its own, and an enabler for developments in other sectors,” said Conicella, citing the example of nutrigenomics as a new area for healthcare research where molecular biology becomes a link between agrofood and biotech.
“We are not going to ignore the traditional industries that have been our strengths for 200 years, we are going to grow it. And this further grows our expertise in life sciences,” he said.
The Laboratory for Advanced Methodologies (LIMA), operated by the cluster organization, offers explorations in chemistry, molecular biology, proteomics and bioinformatics. ABLE Biosciences is the scientific division of Bioindustry Park Silvano Fumero responsible for scientific services of research and development for biotech, pharmaceutical and biomedical companies.
A well-developed expertise in medical imaging is another example. A University Center in Imaging Technologies (CEIP), managed by University of Torino, features advanced modalities to evaluate new solutions in the diagnosis and assessment of the efficacy and efficiency of drugs. Bracco Imaging, the world leader in imaging contrast agents has a well-established research center in the Bioindustry Park Silvano Fumero, as well as a pilot manufacturing plant and a pharmacology unit.
The strong regional support for research and the cross-fertilization with companies is increasingly the key factor for growth, generating startup ventures and new products. A focused strategic vision based on personalized healthcare approaches is the main development driver.
“Today we have a lot of friends around the world,” said Conicella. “We are a connected, world-class biotech park that has moved to an international scale through a partnership approach by identifying science clusters that can complement our efforts. In Europe we work regularly with clusters in Lyon, Munich, and Barcelona. We have an agreement with the University of Massachusetts and we are talking with another US university in another region. We have agreements with four organizations in China, with three in Brazil.
“These agreements are not pieces of paper, they are tools that hold an economic value for our companies,” he said. “Through these channels we facilitate an entry point for our companies in international markets. And these are reciprocal agreements, so that we become the entry point in Italy and Europe for companies coming from those markets.
“This is one example of how we create value for our companies, that are directly and actively involved in the coverage of science park and cluster activities,” he said. “Other clusters and incubators survive sometimes exclusively with public money. We have a business model that is sustainable, which means we are operating with only 10% of revenues coming from public sources. We have built on our traditional sector, we have innovated and built a sustainable ecosystem by growing companies not only on a regional level but internationally.
“We are quite ambitious, and very practical,” said Conicella.
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