AZBusiness May/June 2018

Page 44

HEALTHCARE

A CURE

FOR WHAT AILS ARIZONA

Nonprofit organizations launch initiative to help fill the funding gap for the state’s innovative life science companies By AZ BUSINESS

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ryng to build on Arizona’s significant investments in the life science discovery and healthcare delivery infrastructure, the state’s leaders are focused on bridging the funding gap that slows the growth of Arizonabased life science companies. Leaders of Arizona’s life science sector share a drive to accomplish a common goal: accelerate the growth of local companies that are developing and delivering innovative treatments that truly change lives. A coalition of nonprofit organizations has set an ambitious goal to raise a $200 million endowment to support the commercialization of life changing and lifesaving healthcare innovations that are being developed by Arizona-based researchers and entrepreneurs. The founding members of the coalition include the Arizona Bioindustry Association, Inc. (AZBio) and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation (OTEF), as well as the Healthcare Impact Foundation (HCIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization based in New York.

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AZ Business asked these leaders to share more about this exciting initiative: Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of AZBio; chairman of the OTEF board of directors; and Global Trustee of the Healthcare Impact Foundation. Chuck Stetson, head of a third- and fourth-generation family office in New York, chairman of the Healthcare Impact Foundation, and worked with KoerberWalker to develop the HCIF concept. Russ Yelton, CEO of Yelton & Associates, past chairman of AZBio, member of the board of directors at Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, chairman of the AZ-HCIF Board of Trustees. Kristen Swingle, chairwoman of AZBio, vice president of consumer sales and operations for Cord Blood Registry at AMAG Pharmaceuticals. Az Business: Why this? Why now? Joan Koerber-Walker: Arizona has made great progress since the formation of our Bioscience Cluster in 1997 and the launch of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap in 2002. By conservative estimates, more

than $18 billion has been invested in the bioscience and healthcare sector by public and private sources over the last two decades. We have built up our research enterprise, are launching exciting companies and are educating the next generation of bioscience leaders. Yet, one major hurdle still must be crossed. Lack of access to early stage life science capital has plagued Arizona for two decades. It’s time to stop talking about the problem and solve it. The Arizona component of the Healthcare Impact Foundation (AZ-HCIF) is designed to provide sustainable funding to support the progression of Arizonabased life science discoveries along a path from development to delivery. AZ-HCIF is the first of a portfolio of endowments from across the U.S. and around the world that will be collectively grown and managed by the Healthcare Impact Foundation, a public charity that was established in 2017. Arizona-based local trustees will serve to distribute the annual proceeds, with a goal of supporting the growth of innovative early-stage healthcare companies in Arizona.