2016 OHSU Startup Symposium draws regional attention to life science innovation

John L. Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, keynote speech
John L. Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, keynote speech

“You are never too old or too big to think like a startup.” Thinking like a startup can mean different things to different people, though most would agree that successful startups are idealistic, persistent, and have a goal in mind that they relentlessly strive to achieve. However, as time passes and companies grow, they can lose that startup mentality. This advice was one of many compelling points made by John L. Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, during his keynote address at the fourth annual OHSU Startup Symposium. The theme for the symposium addressed the successes and limitations of Connecting the Pacific Northwest Life Science Ecosystem, discussing possible strategies and collaborations that may attract additional investors and resources to the region.

Over 300 symposium attendees visited the OHSU campus and the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on March 30 and 31. Visitors included regional investors, community partners, and startup company executives, along with OHSU faculty and staff members. In partnership with the OHSU Department of Surgery, the two-day event kicked off with an evening fireside chat featuring life science investors followed by Startup 101 workshops for OHSU clinicians. The second day included the popular “reverse pitch” series, where a panel of industry collaborators and investors engaged the audience in a candid discussion of what they look for when evaluating new companies and innovations. Other noteworthy sessions included investment strategies, understanding your customer, market research, and Pacific Northwest resources for early-stage life science companies.

The symposium also hosted the inaugural company showcase and poster session competitions in partnership with the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator. OHSU startup opportunity to pitch a 5-to-10 minute presentation to an audience that included elite investor and industry partners as well as a panel of . The presenters were evaluated based on the company’s stage of development, market & commercial opportunity, scientific merit/disruptive technology, business & commercialization plan, funding received, probability to follow-on funding, and the overall quality of the presentation. The winners of each competition walked away with a $1,000 check for their company. UrologyDx, Inc., a San Francisco-based genomics company, developing enhanced methods for monitoring an individual’s genome through their urine (their trademarked slogan is “Just Pee in a Cup!”), took home the prize for the company showcase. Yecuris, Inc., a Tualatin-based biotechnology company focused on the utilization of humanized model systems for preclinical drug development and human disease modeling, took the top spot in the poster session.

The event came to a close with a robust networking session that introduced OHSU faculty, staff, students, and post-docs to industry representatives from companies such as GE Healthcare, Welch Allyn, Takeda Ventures, Pfizer, Intel, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Cambia Health, and many others, giving OHSU the opportunity to showcase its talent and innovative environment to potential community partners and investors.

The office of Technology Transfer and Business Development (TTBD) hosts the OHSU Startup Symposium annually. The next symposium is scheduled for fall 2017.