One, titled Access to Capital, was the third and final report in a series the statewide association initiated to explore critical issues that can accelerate or impede the growth of life science companies in Tennessee. The first report in 2012 focused on commercializing more of our homegrown inventions; the second report in 2013 highlighted the criticality of a talented workforce.
The second – State of Life Science Entrepreneurship in Tennessee – was a joint effort between the association and Baker Donelson. This report details the results from a state- and industry-wide survey of nearly 90 entrepreneurs highlighting their views on Tennessee’s life science ecosystem.
The Editor of teknovation.biz chairs the association’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee that produced the Access to Capital Report and collaborated with Baker Donelson in supporting the regional sessions that produced the second report.
The document on capital needs makes three key recommendations:
- Implement a matching program for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards whereby the State of Tennessee would match these federal grants received by emerging Tennessee technology companies, regardless of sector, on a dollar-for-dollar up to a maximum of $1.5 million per grant and $3 million per company. To foster more successful grant applications, SBIR/STTR grant writing support should also be made available. The recommendation is for a total of $40 million over four years.
- Implement a venture matching program where the State would match investments made by qualified venture and angel investors in emerging Tennessee companies on a 1:2 ratio ($1 from state for every $2 invested by venture fund) up to a maximum of $2 million per company. This is very similar to the existing INCITE Co-Investment Fund managed by Launch Tennessee. Again the recommendation is for a total of $40 million over four years.
- Support the implementation of programs that aid in the development of successful early life science companies including support for efforts that build a statewide network of life science professionals and aid emerging companies. Activities would be focused on expanding the state’s current life science accelerator programs with additional depth and breadth, as well as targeting programs for stakeholders in the life science ecosystem – scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture funders. These programs should both assist in the development of young companies and raise both state and national awareness of investible Tennessee companies in the life sciences. The Life Science TN recommendation is supportive for and synergistic with the “Governor’s Rural Challenge” agricultural innovation program. A total of $5 million should be allocated to this program over four years.
Milt Capps also ran a good summary of the Life Science TN annual conference on his Venture Tennessee Connections site. Click here to read his post.