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Town, gown meet for matchmaking

Industry and academics hold first MedTech tech transfer alliance meeting

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
By Charley Hannagan Staff writer, Syracuse Post-Standard

Bristol-Myers Squibb executive Ken Dauria took a breather Sunday afternoon from setting up his company's exhibit to look at other displays at CNY MedTech's first event.

That's when he got talking with representatives from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

"They're working on a biodegradable plastic that could potentially be useful in our organization," said Dauria, Bristol's senior director of manufacturing operations in East Syracuse.

CNY MedTech leaders believe more chance meetings between company and university, or company and company, will grow the biotech industry in Central New York. Those discussions might lead to breakthrough technologies, new products and jobs for the area, the leaders say.

CNY MedTech was founded to create an organized way to form those relationships. Some 250 people attended the organization's kickoff event Monday, a breakfast with speakers and exhibits of technology by local companies.

"This is about learning from your peers," MedTech President Heather Erickson told the meeting. "We all have a vested interest in the success of this industry in Central New York."

A Battelle Memorial Institute report commissioned last year by the Metropolitan Development Association identified 172 companies involved in the industry in a 12-county region stretching from Ithaca to Watertown. The industry employs 6,000 people.

About a year ago, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., challenged local biotechnology leaders to brand Central New York as an industry center. Monday, she praised the CNY MedTech founders for translating that idea into action.

"I'm optimistic about what this means to the region," said Clinton, who added that she's a strong proponent of collaboration among industries. CNY MedTech "can play a major role in creating new jobs and prosperity right here in Central New York," she said.

Many executives say that before the Battelle report, they knew little, if anything, about other local biotech companies. The goal of CNY MedTech is to encourage companies, universities and hospitals to collaborate on new technology, practices and policies.

The organization is patterned after MassMedic, a Boston biotechnology trade group. Mass- Medic has grown to 321 members since its founding in 1996.

The same could happen to CNY MedTech, said David D. Fleming, a MassMedic founder, who spoke at the event.

"Someday this could be the center of the New York life sciences cluster and the hub for bioscience," said Fleming, the group senior vice president for Genzyme Corp., a Massachusetts biotech company.

© 2004 The Post-Standard.

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