BioMedSA is working on many new initiatives, supported by a move to our new office location in the San Antonio Technology Center. The Advocacy Advisory Board promoted the TRANSCEND Bill at the Texas Legislature, which would have created a program to support public investment in R&D for infectious diseases. The group has also been working on pushing for SBIR/STTR grant matching funds at the state level. At the federal level, BioMedSA is pushing for more transparency and accountability at CMS. Locally, mental health resources were identified as a need for clinical care staff, and a program has been created to offer necessary support.
Supporting existing industry in the region is a key aspect of BioMedSA’s work, in addition to the recruitment of new companies to the region. BioMedSA held targeted networking sessions for those who work in specific diseases areas in 2021. We have started a new targeted networking program for those working in similar business areas. The first such meeting was held recently to bring together independent consultants to foster collaboration and local referrals. New in 2022 will be a cyber-security / medical device working group. In 2021, BioMedSA collaborated with VelocityTX to offer two training sessions on quality management and FDA regulations. In 2022, we will be partnering with a service provider to offer ISO 13485 training, enabling companies to get their training done locally instead of each company sending their employees off on a trip for this required training.
BioMedSA regularly conducts one-on-one support meetings with companies to hear their pain points and support resolutions. In 2021, 40 such meetings were held. Through these meetings and other discussions, BioMedSA facilitates an average of 25 connections to local resources and 10 issue resolutions per month. We post job opportunities for our member companies and all local life science events on our website, which still is receiving over 1000 new visitors each month.
Funding is a key need for companies, particularly for entrepreneurs. In 2022, BioMedSA will be starting a grant review board to help companies submit their best possible applications. In collaboration with Alamo Angels, VelocityTX, and Cooley, BioMedSA hosted a medical device investment training session to inform accredited investors about the nuances with investing in medical device companies. On our website, we have a link to a free investor networking service. We also post the link to grants.gov and private grant opportunities. In 2021, we had 3 calls for pitch decks to be presented to investors locally and in Japan. The need for funding has also driven BioMedSA to create BioFest Invest. In 2021, this was a virtual event with 9 informational sessions, attended by over 100 people for an average of 3.5 hours. Twelve companies from across Texas presented their pitch decks to attendees including 20 investors, resulting in $300,000 of investment into San Antonio. BioFest Invest 2022 will be held in person on March 30 at the University of Incarnate Word.
In 2020, BioMedSA assembled a Clinical Trial Taskforce with a goal of optimizing the clinical trial sub-sector in San Antonio. The group analyzed the clinical trial ecosystem, benchmarked other regions that have seen growth, and recommended an action plan. BioMedSA is currently raising funds to create an integrated clinical trial hub to connect: sponsors to sites and principal investigators, supporting organizations to sites, referring doctors to sites and patients to potential trials. A key aspect of this initiative will address health equity, as patients participating in clinical trials can receive screening and connection to medical care to address health problems before they become insurmountable. More volunteers have assembled to fund-raise and plan for the hub.
What started out as a desire to donate extra office supplies expanded into a school supply drive for Sarah King Elementary. Over 100 children received inidividual supplies and the school received numerous boxes of supplies. Our intern had the idea that people who need school supplies probably also need other services. This idea expanded into a community event with approximately 15 booths representing all sorts of community services. People learned how to get electricity subsidies; fifteen children were signed up for health insurance; and, parents were told about life science careers. This holistic community approach has led us to our new workforce initiative.
BioMedSA’s workforce initiative seeks to encourage entry into healthcare and bioscience careers to meet industry needs. This initiative is made possible through a community-focused Workforce Committee, an Industry Team, and an Educator Team. The first objective is to create Life Science Career Packets for careers selected by Industry. These careers will span the career entry points of right-out-of-high-school to college degrees. The career packets will include not only job descriptions, but career pathways demonstrating career progression with increased training, how to get necessary training locally, and where to obtain support for the training. With a wide distribution, particularly into low income areas, these career packets can interrupt the poverty cycle. Most people select their careers based on information from their friends, family and neighbors. In many communities, this means that people don’t know about the resilient and high-paying jobs available in the life science industry. These career packets can provide the information and path to career success to those who are otherwise forgotten.
None of these activities would be possible without the support of our members. BioMedSA has 162 members and subsidiaries who support financially and with their volunteer time to make a difference. In the last 15 months, BioMedSA has doubled our membership, enabling us to accomplish more for our industry as we work together. In addition, members receive significant value as a benefit of their support. Members have access to a cost savings program with pre-negotiated contracts with national vendors. In addition, members received increased publicity, speaking opportunities at events like BioFest Invest, and the ability to submit educational blogs for our monthly newsletter and other digital media platforms. Start-up companies can receive a free press release, as well. Members have access to targeted networking meetings, investor opportunities, and have a direct role in influencing industry growth. Members can also nominate innovation award candidates and attend events at reduced costs. Members are encouraged to participate in committees and working groups to make a difference and really get to know others in the life science industry.
BioMedSA staff would like to extend a warm thank-you to our members and sponsors for making all that we do possible.