The Mix Tape: Ep. 4 — The Future of BioOhio

On episode 4 of The Mix Tape, Mix Talent's Head of Strategy KC McAllister chats with Eddie Pauline, CEO of BioOhio. Eddie explains that BioOhio is the only statewide membership organization supporting the biosciences, it's vision for the industry, and why the Midwest might be deserving of more recognition within the life sciences.

Transcription

Unison-

Welcome to the Mix Tape.

Valerie McCandlish:

I’m Valerie.

Natalie Taylor:

And I’m Natalie.

Valerie McCandlish:

Welcome back to episode four. Thank you so much for sticking around with us. We love to have you here and hope that you’ve been enjoying all of our episode so far. And today’s an extra special one. I just have to take a moment to brag about us because Mix Talent just was awarded a best place to work in Columbus for the third year in a row, which is just amazing. And certainly attributed to all of the contributions that all of our teammates make. It’s such a special place to be. I’m so grateful full to be here and be recognized for all of the hard work that we put in to make this a great place to work. And I think it, sometimes, it’s hard for us over here in the Midwest to really brag about us or take some time to tell our achievements, but this is one that we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with all of our friends in the space.

Natalie Taylor:

I agree, Val, it’s such an exciting time for Mix as an organization and today’s guest mentions that specifically. Eddie talks about our Midwestern modesty and with the growth of biotech in Ohio, we have some long overdue recognition. So Eddie Pauline is the CEO of BioOhio. And he’s going to speak a little bit about that today. He joins one of our founding partners, KC McAllister, who is our head of strategy here at Mix. And they’ll have a very insightful conversation about BioOhio, Eddie’s experience, so far, and where he sees the organization heading.

Valerie McCandlish:

BioOhio’s Ohio’s only statewide membership organization supporting the bioscience community, representing nearly 300 members that employ over 100,000 Ohioans. From Ohio’s largest employers to emerging startups, schools, and universities, research institutions, students and individuals. Mix Talent is a member of BioOhio and we’ve been fortunate enough to build great connections from the organization. So as we are excited about another year of a success for us growing here at Mix Talent, we’re going to kick it over to Eddie and KC to discuss the future of BioOhio.

KC McAllister:

In the past year, biotechnology has become top of mind for all Americans as the race for treatment and vaccines to fight COVID have made household names of biotechs like Moderna, Pfizer, Gilead and Regeneron. That attention has been good for the industry, which is expected to eclipse $2 trillion by 2028. And good for investors as biotech IPOs set records in 2020 with 81 public offerings, raising more than $13.5 billion. 2021 is on pace to do even more. However, this recent boom is just speeding up the growth trajectory that biotech was already on. In fact, the US Department of Labor reports that biotech employment is expected to grow by 5% by 2029. A faster pace than in the majority of all other occupations. Increased revenue, increased investment and job growth, biotech has it all. Today’s guest, Eddie Pauline, is the new CEO and president of Industry Association by Ohio. And he’s here to share how Ohio is primed to be a significant player in the growth of biotech and a perfect partner for companies as the need for job growth meets the need for new talent pools and investment. Eddie, welcome to the Mix Tape.

Eddie Pauline:

Thanks, KC. Really happy to be here and appreciate the opportunity to come talk about this increasingly important industry in Ohio. I should let people know, I am starting my eighth week as the new leader of BioOhio and have been on a listening tour of our membership. And for those that don’t know, BioOhio is a 34 year old trade association. We are charged with representing health and life science companies across the state of Ohio. And we’ve been doing that for quite some time in a variety of different iterations. Most recently we’ve become a member driven organization. We have about 270 members and looking to continue to grow. There’s about 4200 health and life science companies in the state of Ohio, which employ about a 100 000 people. So it’s a significant industry for Ohio and one that we’re really excited to represent.

I think what has been really interesting about the listening tour that I’m on, is to hear our members talk about just the great opportunity that exist in this state. What has been really interesting for me is to hear about all of the really amazing innovation and activities that these companies are currently involved with all across the state of Ohio. And what I’m noticing is that the industry itself is still a little under the radar. So all of these great innovations in the state are occurring without as much recognition as the auto industry, manufacturing industry, retail. So we feel obligated to really do our part to better promote all of this activity and innovation that we’re hearing about.

KC McAllister:

And Eddie, why do you think that is? Why is a top secret all the amazing innovation happening in Ohio?

Eddie Pauline:

So, my take on that is that it is a relatively new space. Again, if you look at Ohio’s history, it’s not a state that’s necessarily built on the health and life science industry.

KC McAllister:

Certainly.

Eddie Pauline:

So as the industry continues to grow more and more people are just starting to become more curious about the potential opportunity. The entrepreneurs and innovators that got an early start in this space, were very close to the manufacturing sector, which is why medical devices, for example, are so prevalent in Ohio. If you look at Southwest Ohio, companies like AtriCure, Enable Injections, these are really innovative companies, have been doing things for several years that employ a lot of people in the state of Ohio that just, again, have not necessarily been on people’s radar. So, again, we’re going to do our part to make more people aware that these types of companies exist.

I’m thinking, too, of NuVasive in the Dayton area. Again, one of… I think they’re the third largest medical device manufacturer in the country. [crosstalk 00:07:07] manufacturing is here in Ohio. [crosstalk 00:07:12] are loyal to Ohio, passionate about [crosstalk 00:07:18] but needs some help in having a little bit more swagger, I’d say. And it reminds me of the former mayor of Columbus, Michael Coleman, who always talked about the importance of Columbus having some swagger, developing more confidence as a city, in order to attract more activity and investment. We need to do the same thing in this industry. There’s too many great things going on for us not to be confident about the potential growth. And when you look at the growth, what has in Ohio over the last couple years, is this growth in cell and gene therapy.

So if you look at Nationwide Children’s and the treatment, the gene therapy, that they created, focused on limb girdle muscular dystrophies, that Myonexus brought to market, Myonexus was acquired by Sarepta Therapeutics. Sarepta Therapeutics is the largest cell and gene therapy company in the globe, that is now here in Columbus, in Ohio. That has triggered a variety of other interests in this particular space. So I think people now are starting to recognize Ohio is the place to be when it comes to continued gene cell therapy, development and investment. What is also occurring is our economic development partners, JobsOhio, One Columbus, many of the other regional groups, are much more focused on attracting health and life science companies to the state of Ohio. Recently, we had a huge win, again, in Central Ohio with Amgen, deciding to locate their manufacturing facility here. A huge brand for Ohio, they will employ 400 people.

And, again, an event like that at causes other major health and life science companies to start looking at why Ohio? What is going on in Ohio that is making this place so attractive? Not only to a company like Sarepta, but also Amgen. So, again, BioOhio is going to come in and help create a narrative around this type of activity and ensure that people, not only within the state, but beyond, have a little bit more insight into why this activity’s growing here, why the health and life science industry is going to, hopefully, be a key industry as the state moves forward.

KC McAllister:

So Eddie, you referenced two big players in life sciences. Sarepta, based out of Boston, obviously Cambridge is often thought of and often ranked as the hotbed for all biotech, not just gene and cell therapy. And then Amgen is one of the biggest biotechs in the world and goes back and forth between being the biggest with Roche out in California. So as you’re talking about, things are now starting to evolve. These large organizations are seeing opportunity in a state like Ohio, and not just as a hunting ground for assets, but also a place to actually put their business and grow it. So as you’re building that narrative, can you give us a preview? What are some of those reasons why they’re choosing Ohio? What are some of the things tipping the scales to keep those businesses here and having them grow ?

Eddie Pauline:

Well, we talked a little bit about the investment that our research institutions are making in this space. So I think people are recognizing that as universities continue to innovate, research is done, the tech transfer offices are doing a much better job of getting these ideas and creations out to market that that’s drawing a lot of attention and investment. The other thing that’s occurring, and this is a talent related thing, is as Amgen arrives, as Sarepta arrives, as Andelyn Therapeutics emerges from Nationwide Children’s, these companies are hiring people from the coast. So we have a lot of transplants now from Boston, Cambridge area, from the West Coast that get to Columbus and sort of have an epiphany about how cool the region is. That people are pleasantly surprised when they get to Ohio. That there’s plenty to do, it’s cosmopolitan, it’s raising a few eyebrows.

These leaders then become, our champions and advocates to go back to their home markets and talk about things like, “Columbus is better than you think.” “There’s a lot to do in Ohio.” “My commute time has been cut from two hours to 20 minutes.” “There’s plenty of talent and continued innovation occurring in this market.” So the ecosystem is continuing to develop. And I think that as it continues to develop and those advocates and champions bring more people here, success will… It’s a classic case of success begetting success. The growing ecosystem will track more activity. People will be less skeptical of opportunities they encounter. If they move to Columbus and something doesn’t work out, they know that they’ll have another company to jump to because of the overall activity level. So I’m really excited about the foundation that we have here.

And I’m expecting almost a hockey stick moment for the industry in this state that will continue to be fueled by the organic activity that’s occurring within these new companies coming to town. But, again, also the state investment. We are, over the next decade, developing three innovation districts in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The Columbus one, for example, is a billion dollar, ultimately multi-billion dollar investment, that will have a health and life sciences theme to it. Ohio States put in 650 million in new construction. Nationwide Children’s put in 350 million. The state of Ohio through JobsOhio has put in a hundred million. So these are critical investments that are being copied in other cities in Ohio to really invest in this industry. So, again, between the Anchor Institution investment and the organic growth of many of these anchor companies and startups, you have the right mix for some pretty impressive growth in this industry. So I’m really excited about it and want to do our part to continue to tell that story.

KC McAllister:

No, that’s great. So, recognizing again, eight weeks into to the job, right? But when you talk about these innovation districts, the investment from the institutions, from the state government, the cities that are willing to also support this kind of growth in these different districts. Why now? What’s the moment in time for Ohio, that all of these players are really tuned into life sciences and getting behind the effort to really make it a place where people want to come and grow and stay?

Eddie Pauline:

I think the fuel behind this is really… In my view, the groundwork has been laid over the last couple decades. Again, BioOhio started as the Edison Biotechnology Institute. An early investment from the state of Ohio to stimulate growth in this industry. Well, these investments take time. And I think over the last 30 years as Edison Technology Institute has become BioOhio, as investors had some early successes in the health and life sciences industry, these things are now starting to produce results. So I’m simply coming in at a critical time where this important groundwork is starting to bear fruit. And now there’s a variety of other players that are able to leverage it and continue to grow.

So it didn’t just happen. It was intentional, I think, through the thoughtful investment that occurred decades ago by the state of Ohio. By others that wanted to see Ohio continue to diversify its set of industries. A lot more opportunity exists in the health and life sciences, but the fact that we’ve navigated the pandemic, that more and more people are thinking about what we need to do in society to keep people healthy and save lives, it it’s all sort of coming together, I think at this point and creating a lot of excitement. So, again, Ohio is a prime candidate to take advantage of this. Again, repeating a little bit of this, but what other state has two of the top ranked children’s hospitals available? None.

KC McAllister:

Let me guess.

Eddie Pauline:

I’ll tell you.

KC McAllister:

Yeah, that’s right.

Eddie Pauline:

We have Ohio State University that investing $2 billion into their medical center. And by the way, is producing 18,000 intelligent young minds year after year after year, that are fueling innovation in Central Ohio. The Cleveland Clinic, Case Western reserve. These are all just critical, foundational characters that will continue to attract talent and fuel growth.

KC McAllister:

No, absolutely. Well, good. So how about you? So you, again, just a couple of months into the role, right? But did not come out of life science, did not come out of biotech, right? So help our listeners understand, Eddie, how did you find your way to this organization and why, at this point in your career, were you excited to head into life sciences and take the helm?

Eddie Pauline:

For me, it was a combination of things. One, my wife works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and she heads up Speech Pathology there. She would come home with just tremendous stories about what an entity like that is doing to keep children healthy. In some sense save lives. Thinking about that, and in doing some of my economic development work at Ohio State, knowing that I think society will continue to lean on this industry for support, made me want to be more involved. I think that our future as a society will depend on how much innovation we do in the health and life sciences. So I wanted to be a part of that. Looking at this role at BioOhio, I felt there was no better entity than this association to represent the public policy work needed to continue to advance the industry and support the industry.

The economic development work needed to retain companies that were currently in Ohio, doing this great work and attracting more of those types of companies to the state. And the overall opportunity to create an ecosystem, leverage my corporate relations experience, to continue to connect companies to each other in order for them to collaborate and innovate together. So that was all wrapped up in this really unique role at BioOhio, that it just really spoke to me. So I feel very lucky to be involved in this organization at this time in the growth of the industry.

KC McAllister:

No, that’s great. So as you start and recognizing, it will probably change over time, but what are your top two or three first priorities as CEO of BioOhio?

Eddie Pauline:

What I continue to hear about from my listening tour, which I, again, have met with about a hundred different companies and other influencers in the states so far…

KC McAllister:

In eight weeks in eight weeks?

Eddie Pauline:

In eight weeks. It’s been a whirlwind, yes.

KC McAllister:

Sorry, listeners can’t see, but he does look well rested for someone who said a hundred meetings in eight weeks.

Eddie Pauline:

So what I’m hearing is the importance of talent, ensuring that we, as a state, are considering a couple things. One is, what are we doing to continue to up skill and reskill the current workforce? As all industries continue to innovate, jobs will change. Some jobs will be needed more than others. So how can we ensure that jobs that have become less important are able to critical jobs in the health and life sciences? That’s a huge issue and opportunity. What are we doing to ensure the pipeline of talent into the industry? So what are our community colleges, universities, other educational institutions doing to ensure that they’re training the incoming workforce in a way that will be valuable and applicable to the health and life sciences? The final piece around talent is exposure to the industry. You know, we do have a lot of great minds already here in Ohio that simply exposing them to the industry, knowing that they may have a career in medical devices, gene and cell therapy, pharma, whatever, there’s an opportunity there.

So how can we help connect those companies to the workforce in a way that they can, again, upskill, reskill, develop a pipeline and expose people to just what they’re all about. The second thing that I’m hearing a lot about is the importance of investment. We have a wonderfully supported network of seed money for startups. I think people find it relatively easy to raise initial funding from a variety of different places and institutions in Ohio. I think we need to do more to make it easier to get follow-on funding. And we talked about some of the issues there earlier with just industry awareness. I think we need to educate people more about the cost or investment level and timeline of life science company investment, compared to maybe tech or other types. I think people who are expecting a three to five year return on their investment need to think about an eight to 12 year when it comes to the health and life science companies. So just getting people comfortable with the unique needs that the health and life science industry has when it comes to investment opportunities.

The final thing is just, again, overall connectivity. A successful ecosystem needs management, and it needs a convener. So BioOhio is well positioned to be that entity that convenes the ecosystem, that helps people navigate the ecosystem, ensuring that people in Columbus are aware of what’s going on in Cleveland. Ensuring Cleveland is connected to Cincinnati. That companies find it easier to connect with universities. Researchers are connecting companies, you know. We want to get our arms around that and ensure that we’re providing that support for the overall connectivity of the ecosystem. So again, I think the workforce development piece, the investment piece and the, and the connectivity piece, all are interconnected in a way, and really important to fueling the continued growth of the industry.

KC McAllister:

It’s exciting.

Eddie Pauline:

It’s very exciting.

KC McAllister:

Yeah. There’s a lot of opportunity.

Eddie Pauline:

Totally.

KC McAllister:

We’re in good hands. So Mix Talent is a member of BioOhio.

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah, we deeply appreciate the membership.

KC McAllister:

Shameless plug.

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah. And I think when you look at… Okay, let’s talk about the value of membership in BioOhio. You know, there’s of course the transactional things that we provide. Discounts on things, networking events, et cetera, but there’s also… I hope people understand that they’re buying in, they’re investing in the overall support of, and growth of the industry. So ensuring that we take our membership from 270 members to 4200 members is, I think, critical. And I just want to make sure that we’re seen as not only an entity that can help support your business, but also have the confidence that by investing in membership, by sponsoring things, you’re contributing to the overall growth of the industry, which will help everybody. So that’s part of the package as well.

KC McAllister:

Absolutely. Well, and I can even speak from our business, have been long time members of BioOhio, but really because you should be a card carrying member if you’re in the state, right? It’s more of that, something we have been supportive of, but not something we’ve necessarily engaged in a whole lot. And I would say a big part of that in our business is not unique necessarily from the standpoint of our clients focused in life sciences have not been in the state of Ohio. And I think we are very excited about the opportunity to see that increase. To see this ecosystem, as you referred to at Eddie, be developing across the state. But I think the biggest opportunity that we see and the biggest piece we get excited about, outside of talent, which is obviously our business…

Eddie Pauline:

Right.

KC McAllister:

…is that connectivity piece.

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah.

KC McAllister:

Because it’s almost that inversion of when you start with that connectivity and there’s awareness and understanding and business connection, as well as industry connection, the others become easier in terms of investment in workforce development and retention and attraction. Because you do feel like you’re a part of something in those from the outside, whether they be from the Coast or investment community, see that.

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah.

KC McAllister:

And recognize that you’re not on these little islands, but rather there is something where you do see so much more of that when you look at San Francisco. When you look at San Diego, when you look at Cambridge and even research triangles really done a lot to try to become one of those types of communities. So we’re unique being a whole state and not just a part of a state.

Eddie Pauline:

Sure.

KC McAllister:

Right? As you called out. But I know that’s a lot of what we’ve talked about in our organization and really excited to have you leading the way.

Eddie Pauline:

No, that is both a challenge and opportunity though. The interesting geographic and the centers of population in the state of Ohio. I look at it as a health and life sciences backbone to the state. I want to ensure that as we talk about the continued growth of the industry, it’s talked about in a way that is about Ohio. And the fact that, whether you’re in Columbus and it’s only an hour and a half or two hours to Cleveland, that’s a competitive advantage. That the access to all of this talent and innovation is only a few hours away from one another. And there’s pockets, again, outside of those main cities, too. I mean, if you look at the Toledo area, Northwest Ohio, Ohio university, down in Athens. We’re getting to a point where it’s hard to find a place in Ohio where there’s not some sort of health and life science presence. So that’s something we really need to take advantage of and be excited about and not be afraid to talk about it.

KC McAllister:

That’s great. Well, good. Well, we’re so glad that you joined us today, Eddie. Thanks so much. Before we let you go, there are a couple of questions we do ask all of our guests here at the Mix Tape. So, I definitely want to make sure we get those in. So the first one is, what is the best interview question that you have ever asked or been asked.

Eddie Pauline:

Best interview question, I’ll interpret, is probably one of the more difficult ones to answer, which for me was a question that I actually got during the interview process for my current role, which was talk about a time that you were frustrated. And I like that question because you could go a lot of different ways with it. And it’s not one that I got before. And I think it shows… You have an opportunity to talk about resilience and dealing with pressure, et cetera. So I thought it was a pretty interesting question that I’ll try to figure out how to use at some point in the future.

KC McAllister:

That’s funny. I had someone share with me today, one of her favorite, and it was that she actually asked people, and it was what’s the first time you made money? And she said, people often confuse it with, what was your first job? And she’s an entrepreneur. And so she said, “I’m not interested in your first job. I want to know what was the first time you made money?” And she goes, “Sometimes I hear these great stories and it’s definitely a, yep, I’m going to hire you or you probably don’t have it.”

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah. I like that one too. 

KC McAllister:

Yeah, I thought that was interesting. I had not heard that before. Well, great. Okay. And then the last question is, of course it wouldn’t be the Mix Tape without a playlist. So what should be the song we put on our playlist from you?

Eddie Pauline:

Well, I’m a fan of really any James Taylor song. I don’t know. I go back and forth between Johnny Cash and James Taylor.

KC McAllister:

Depending upon the mood?

Eddie Pauline:

Depending on the mood. Over the last eight weeks, probably more James Taylor. Just a little soothing sound…

KC McAllister:

There you go.

Eddie Pauline:

…at the end of the day.

KC McAllister:

Do you have a song? A James Taylor favorite? There’s so many good ones.

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah. It’d be hard to put my finger on a particular one.

KC McAllister:

All right. We’ll just download the whole collection.

Eddie Pauline:

Just download the whole [crosstalk 00:33:24]

KC McAllister:

The whole catalog, right?

Eddie Pauline:

Yeah.

KC McAllister:

Well, again, thanks so much to Eddie Pauline CEO and president of BioOhio for being our guest today on the Mix Tape. We’re so grateful to have you and thanks for your insights. And we look forward to having you back in a year or two, to hear all the great progress that you’ve been you on behalf of members.

Eddie Pauline:

Pleasure to be here. Thanks for the opportunity.

KC McAllister:

Absolutely.

Natalie Taylor:

Thank you to Eddie and KC for sharing their knowledge on the biotech and life science world with us. I loved hearing Eddie’s point about making sure we are paying attention to our talent in this industry. Of course, being a recruiting organization that resonates with us and I, personally, love to see the growth of this industry in my home state of Ohio.

Valerie McCandlish & Natalie Taylor:

Agreed, Natalie. I just love the general idea of what Eddie was talking about with the confidence that Ohio needs to gain. And I think in his words, he was talking about out swagger, because even if we aren’t one of the major hubs, we are doing major things as a state, which is really exciting. And I think that people deserve to know that Ohio is a hub. The Midwest is a hub for life sciences. But one other thing I wanted to share, too, I love James Taylor. That is my childhood. So when Eddie said that that was what we need to add to the mix tape, I cannot wait to pick some of my favorite James Taylor songs to add to that list. And as a reminder, if you can subscribe to this podcast and follow us on LinkedIn at Mix Talent and on Instagram @mix.talent. You can follow along for our a podcast. You can also head to us on Spotify and check out the mix tape there too, for all of the songs we’ve collected so far.

Natalie Taylor:

Absolutely. And thanks as always for being in the mix, we’ll see you next week.

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