La Jolla and Thousand Oaks Welcome Top Argentinian Science Journalists For a Biomedicine Workshop

La Jolla and Thousand Oaks Welcome Top Argentinian Science Journalists For a Biomedicine Workshop

With over 200 established biotechnology companies, Argentina has the second largest concentration per capita in Latin America. The largest category of biotech companies in Argentina belongs to Human Health. Its R&D investment intensity surpasses that of the Seed sector and receives roughly 146 million dollars, participating in almost 20% of total biotechnological R&D. This dynamism is further highlighted by the fact that two-thirds of these biotech companies were founded less than a decade ago. There over 40 research institutes dedicated to bio sciences and notable university programs specializing in this field.

The strength of the biotech sector in Argentina, the strong biotech sector in San Diego and Thousand Oaks, and the over 15 years of experience that the Institute has organizing professional journalism training workshops for Latin American journalists, brought together top tier journalists from Argentina for a week-long workshop focused on Biomedicine. From April 15th to 19th, the Institute of the Americas and Amgen co-hosted this program and invited eight distinguished Argentinian science journalists: Alejandra Folgarait, Federico Kukso, Valeria Román of Infobae, Florencia Ballarino of Perfil, Nora Bär of La Nacion, Florencia Maria Cunzolo of Clarin, Matias Loewy of Medscape, and Lucas Viano of La Voz for this unique opportunity to conduct innovative, hands-on, and experiential learning through this pilot program.

In San Diego, the distinguished guests were introduced to its innovation and biomedicine ecosystem. Dr. Mary Walshok, Dean of UC San Diego Extension and also an Institute Board Member, opened the event by framing the San Diego case within a sociological context that outlined important factors leading to the creation of this vibrant ecosystem. The event included representatives of important innovation intermediaries including Devora Rossi, Senior Innovation and Commercialization Manager at the Office of Innovation & Commercialization of UC San Diego, Jennifer Landress, Sr. VP and COO of Biocom, and Steve Hoey, VP of the Springboard Accelerator Program and Innovation Research at CONNECT San Diego.  The program also included a presentation from Argentinian serial entrepreneur Diego Miralles, CEO of Vividion Therapeutics and dinner with local ex-pat scientists and researchers.  Additionally, Matthew Bresnahan, Partner of Intellectual Property at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, discussed intellectual property and patents and Albert Vazquez, Business Angel at Tech Coast Angeles San Diego, shared the importance of angel investment for the growth of an innovation economy.

The workshop facilitated the opportunity for journalists to visit innovation centers such as Biolabs, Calit2, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, and Illumina. These site visits enabled the journalists to see firsthand the processes and investigations which occur in the facilities and be inspired by the prospects of bio medicine for the future.

At Thousand Oaks, the delegation visited Amgen’s headquarters to analyze more in depth the case study of a successful bio pharmaceutical company that started small and has now become a world leader in biotechnology and medicine that addresses serious illnesses. The journalists enjoyed an engaging overview from Sr. VP and General Manager of the Intercontinental Region, Gilles Marrache before presenting their own analysis of the Argentinian ecosystem.

The highlight of the program for the journalists was the first and second sessions of a modified Amen Biotech Experience (ABE) which the Amgen Foundation offers to empower teachers to bring biotechnology to their classrooms. Led by Professor Martin Ikkanda, creator of the content for the ABE Program, the delegation explored how to engineer DNA molecules to express genes coding for human biologic medicines. They inserted a gene, made a protein, and purified it during two short lab sessions.

The program included TED-style talks (TAD Talks – Technology, Amgen, and Design) to present and discuss important topics to science including Biosimilars, Science Education, and Immunology  presented by three Amgen executives.

Motivated by the newly restructured focus of the Institute: Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Energy & Sustainability, we hope to continue to offer journalistic programs focused on innovation reporting and innovations to reporting methods as one of our pillars in the Institute’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Program.  These efforts seeks to convene different stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem in order to help educate, inform, and inspire leaders that will have a multiplying effect on these important hemispheric issues. Capacity building workshops, journalism initiatives, and STEM student and teacher camps are ways that we are helping harness the innovative potential in Latin America. The Institute seeks to increase its involvement throughout the region and continue to provide opportunities for collaboration and growth.

Opportunities in Engineering & Business – What can STEM do for your?

Opportunities in Engineering & Business – What can STEM do for your?

The Institute of the Americas is collaborating with the San Diego Unified STEAM Leadership Series, the San Diego Unified School District, lead sponsor the Moxie Foundation, and others, in a major event in December 6, 2017, in order to underscore the importance of education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to the future careers of the youth of the region – from all sectors of society.

Three-hundred junior high and high school students, many of Latin American origin, with interests in STEM will participate in this event.

Through interactive narratives with the participants, Latin American professionals will showcase their experience and demonstrate how their achievements and personal pathways to success can serve as practical examples and models for students towards achieving their own potential.

The participants will learn about the new high-tech, business, and entrepreneurial STEM careers from exciting and knowledgeable experts.

We aim to inform and inspire high school students from across the San Diego District and Tijuana with the variety of business, research and academic, as well as not-for-profit opportunities offered by the San Diego / Baja California mega region.  Our objective is to enrich and empower these youth to be able to set their own goals and aspirations and to position themselves for the future to take advantage of the richness of opportunities.

Special pilot: As a first for the STEAM Leadership Series, the main sessions and breakouts will be live-streamed to a host of academic institutions in Latin and South America – including, but not limited to, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.

International Forum: State, U.S. Economies Depend on Strong Trade Opportunities

International Forum: State, U.S. Economies Depend on Strong Trade Opportunities

Excerpt from CalChamber article

Globally, trade is at a very interesting juncture, Ambassador Jamal Khokhar, president and CEO from the  Institute of the Americas, said to the attendees.

For more than the last half century, the U.S. has led the world in breaking down barriers to trade and in creating a fairer and freer international trading system based on market economics and the rule of law. Increased market access achieved through trade agreements has played a major role in the nation’s success as the world’s leading exporter.

This trend is changing, however, to a more inward view because “large segments of the population have not necessarily benefitted from the gains of trade liberalization that were promised them in the trade agreements,” the Ambassador said.

Ambassador Khokhar explained that it is not the trade agreement’s fault for this predicament. “We are better off with a liberalized trade agenda,” he said. The challenge instead is how to make the trade adjustments in terms of education, job training, job creation, adjusting with new technologies, recognizing that some manufacturing jobs will be lost and new ones created and there’s a balance between the two sides.

Why are trade agreements so difficult to negotiate, the Ambassador asked rhetorically?

“Trade agreements are the only instrument that oblige countries to internalize, ratify into domestic law the agreements reached among countries. So, they are enforceable and there are dispute resolution systems in place,” he said.

It is this package deal that allows countries to load up a variety of topics and problems into a trade agreement. However, the biggest change in trade is new technology, and that is presenting a whole host of new problems.

Global value chains account for 80% of world trade today. Global value chains are companies selling to each other, within the company, or all the people and all of goods from around the world that go into the production of a product or a service.

“In a world where goods, or even cattle cross the border before they’re processed and delivered…how do you define a rule of origin?” Ambassador Khokhar asked. “So global value chains are extremely important and yet our trade agreements are not set up any longer to deal with sophisticated global value chains.”

The debate the world is having about trade and whether it benefits or hurts countries needs to refocus on how technology changes everything.

The Ambassador sympathized that there are people who are hurt, who have lost jobs and explained that we as a society, not necessarily just government, need to think of how to address that and we need to think about how to retrain and create new jobs in some of these new companies.

“Look backwards if you want to, but I think the rest of the world is moving on and I think countries like the U.S. and key states like California control a lot of global leadership,” Ambassador Khokhar said in closing.

Las universidades no son fábricas de startups

Las universidades no son fábricas de startups

Coutesy of PRODEM

En el marco del 7º Seminario Taller Prodem fue entrevistado Carlos Martínez Vela, vicepresidente de Innovación & Entrepreneurship en el Instituto de las Américas.

¿Cuál es el papel de las universidades?

Cuando era estudiante del MIT hace ya varios años, tuvimos un proyecto grande donde hicimos un análisis con 25 casos de estudio, donde consultábamos cuál era el rol de la universidad en el desarrollo económico y, en particular, el papel de la universidad en el crecimiento y transformación de nuevas industrias, de nuevos clúster en ciertas regiones, en distintas áreas.

Un proyecto muy interesante, porque no lo hicimos preguntando a las universidades qué habían hecho, sino que investigamos la trayectoria del desarrollo regional, identificando el camino tecnológico de ciertas industrias y ver a partir de ahí, cuál había sido la contribución de la universidad.

Naturalmente los 25 casos eran todos distintos, sin embargo había temas comunes, y esto se aplica también a Boston, de hecho uno de los casos fue ahí. Y encontramos que el papel fundamental de la universidad en el desarrollo económico es la educación, que si tú le preguntas a un CEO de una compañía de biotecnología en Boston, por qué están alrededor del MIT o Harvard, dicen que es por el talento, no por las patentes. Y aparte de esto, está naturalmente el tema de la investigación, la generación de ideas que son muchas veces la fuente de los productos revolucionarios, a veces no nos imaginamos en el momento actual lo que van hacer en el futuro. La resolución de problemas, la participación de los estudiantes, la facultad, investigadores, colaboraciones que ayudan a resolver problemas en la industria, en la economía o en la sociedad, la diseminación o codificación del conocimiento, a través de la transferencia de tecnología, que es la manera de llevar conocimiento hacia la economía.

Y esta idea de espacio público, el poder de convocatoria que tienen las universidades para juntar actores que a lo mejor no se juntan con facilidad y tener conversaciones sobre el futuro, sobre la economía, sobre la industria, lo cual es muy importante y reconocido.

Esto no significa… obviamente estamos aquí en Prodem con el tema del emprendimiento. Esto no significa que el emprendimiento, los startups y la transferencia de tecnología no sean importantes. Pero quería poner un contexto más amplio. Y en ese sentido, pensar que cuando queremos involucrar a las universidades de una manera más amplia en el desarrollo, hay distintas maneras de hacerlo.

¿Qué se puede se puede esperar y qué no, de una universidad?

No se puede esperar que sean agencias de desarrollo económico, no se puede esperar que salven a la economía regional. Porque son un agente entre muchos otros, sector privado, sector público, gobierno, sociedad civil, etc. Y estos cambios de economías regionales requieren una movilización de los distintos actores en conjunto, para pensar y actuar hacia un futuro económico y social distinto.

Entonces, pensar la universidad dentro de estas funciones, estos roles pero no la salvadora, como un agente muy importante pero no el único.

¿Cómo se traducen los esfuerzos de la investigación al mercado?

Hablando un poco de la traducción de estos resultados de la investigación en economía, como mencionaba en la plática, el MIT tiene un ecosistema interno, donde naturalmente está la oficina de transferencia interna de tecnología, pero está también el centro de prueba de concepto, que se llama “Deshpande Center”, están los premios, las competencias, los clubes estudiantiles, etcétera. Y toda esta infraestructura sirve para brindar este servicio, para que el investigador y los estudiantes que quieran emprender algo, que quieran crear una compañía, licenciar una tecnología, puedan hacerlo. Es un espíritu de servicio, naturalmente esto florece porque hay todo un sistema externo también. En ese sentido, Boston es privilegiada porque ahí se inventó el Venture Capital, en 1946 si no me equivoco. Tiene una concentración de universidades, tiene una cultura emprendedora, grandes compañías, pequeñas compañías, entonces es una sinergia entre lo que pasa adentro de las universidades y lo que pasa afuera de ellas.

Hay que pensar esto en distintos contextos cómo se aplica en todos los contextos. Pero hay ciertos procesos y ciertas funciones que son importantes en todas partes, entonces no necesariamente hay que pensar en replicarse, sino en aprender.

¿En cuanto a reglas?

Hay reglas muy claras y eso es parte del secreto de todo esto. Hay reglas muy claras en cuanto a lo que los profesores pueden y no pueden hacer, cuánto tiempo pueden dedicar a la consultoría versus al trabajo académico, cuánto es el porcentaje de participación que tienen en la startup, cuánto en las licencias. Entonces, esa parte es muy importante, porque parte de lo que estas reglas hacen, es brindar la oportunidad pero también preservar la integridad de la universidad y de la vida académica, que es muy importante también. Las universidades no son fábricas de startups, y es muy importante entender estas reglas para mantener una cierta cultura, porque si orientamos todo a la investigación todas las necesidades inmediatas del mercado, las necesidades conocidas, vamos a perdernos del futuro. Entonces, es importante tener esta infraestructura pero sin olvidar también el tema de la investigación básica que está orientada a cosas que no sabemos cómo se van aplicar en el futuro.

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