Discovery Square and updates on the Destination Medical Center design guidelines were among the highlights in this week’s Destination Medical Center Corporation board meeting.
Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic and DMC made a major announcement about the next steps for Discovery Square, an urban research center where doctors, researchers, and scientists can work together on advancements in medical research, technology, and patient care.
“Mayo Clinic’s investment in Discovery Square is an exciting step for the city of Rochester. Discovery Square will propel the development of innovative ideas, products, and businesses in southeast Minnesota,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith, DMC Corporation Board Chair.
The first building will break ground in 2017, and Mayo Clinic is currently searching for a real estate development firm to take on the project.
And TCB has learned it’s possible, perhaps likely, that among the first new beneficiaries of the build-out will be three of Mayo’s hottest research operations in fields that are quickly gaining traction among companies and investors: its “transformational centers” of genomics/individualized medicine, regenerative medicine and healthcare economics.
The grant complements the Destination Medical Center’s efforts to position Rochester – and specifically Discovery Square – as an international hub for medical innovation.
“Discovery Square is the economic engine for DMC. It represents the future of biomedicine, research, and technology innovation and is anticipated to be one of the largest drivers of job growth in Rochester,” says Lisa Clarke, executive director of the DMC Economic Development Agency.
On average, Americans spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors. From living and working to shopping and working out, exposure to indoor environments is at an all-time high. The Well Living Lab, a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and Delos, is exploring how our health and wellbeing is affected by all of the time we are spending inside.
The purpose of the Well Living Lab is to study these indoor environments and create healthier indoor spaces in which to live, work, and play. Focused exclusively on human-centered research, the lab is the first of its kind. By maintaining an unprecedented degree of control over the research variables it is testing, the researchers are able to manipulate and test almost any type of indoor environment.
The amount of brainpower concentrated within the Rochester area is staggering. Mayo Clinic’s remarkable achievements in delivering exemplary patient care have been heralded as a model to the country and the world. What is perhaps less known are the armies of scientists: biologists, chemists, engineers, statisticians, all dedicated to developing ideas that change the way we look at, understand, and treat disease.
Turning these ideas into reality, into companies and products that improve patient care, should be a key focus of DMC’s Commercial Research and technology initiative. It is our responsibility as a medical community to further innovations that improve patient care and these innovations in turn will build the local economy, create jobs and contribute to the DMC vision of making Rochester and Minnesota a Global center for healthcare.
“Easier said then done” is putting it lightly when it comes to describing the process of turning ideas into reality, especially in the area of biotechnology where product development is expensive, highly-regulated, and capital-intensive. Development of technologies to improve treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other major diseases is imperative, and while we have the best minds in the world working to develop solutions, the transition of these technologies to patients remains arduous. Critical resources that I hope are part of DMC’s commercial research and technology initiative include improved access to commercial lab space, funding for early stage companies, and the legal, financial, clinical and regulatory expertise needed to facilitate this process.
I am excited about the ability to realistically build companies and develop groundbreaking new technologies in Rochester. There is an increasing awareness of the existing hurdles, a willingness to address them, and an emphasis on developing the resources and people needed to overcome them. To borrow a corny but appropriate superhero adage, the DMC vision highlights our great power, our innovative and dynamic community, and our great responsibility, to take on the challenge of applying these technologies to benefit Rochester and the lives of people worldwide.
Shruthi Naik, PhD, is a research fellow at Mayo Clinic and co-founder of Omnis Pharma, a biotech company dedicated to transforming cancer therapy through innovation.
Commercial Research and Technology is term that can be difficult to grasp. Simply put, the Rochester area is looking to attract and develop businesses based on research and technology. Some of these businesses will come from elsewhere, some will be started right here in Rochester largely based on intellectual property (IP) developed at Mayo or IBM.
In fact, the Rochester area is a gold mine of IP. Per capita, Rochester generates more IP per year than even Silicon Valley! This is due to our educated, creative, and hardworking citizens that create game changing breakthroughs every day.
The passage of the DMC has sparked a new dawn for Rochester commercial research and technology. I believe that technologies created here in Rochester should have incentives to be developed here. We shouldn’t be outsourcing our ideas to Minneapolis, Boston, or Madison. In fact, we should be “in sourcing” talent and ideas from other places to continue the long tradition of Rochester based innovation started by the Mayo Brothers over one hundred years ago.
The growth of biobusiness in our area has already begun. Biotech and healthcare IT companies are starting to emerge. Rochester biobusiness entrepreneurs have pioneered a new industry in our community and should be applauded for their efforts. Additionally, the Mayo BioBusiness Accelerator hosts over 10 new start-ups right now with many more in the pipeline. These start-ups will create new jobs help to diversity our local economy as well as attract investment dollars to our region. That’s an exciting recipe for success and a bright future for Rochester biobusiness.
I’m excited to see what the next twenty years of DMC holds for Rochester. Ultimately, DMC is about the people in our community who have the willingness to take the risks to make this grand vision come true. All you need to do to help is to find your passion and make it happen. Let’s build our future together.
What are your ideas on developing biobusiness in Rochester and the State of Minnesota? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
Jamie Sundsbak is a senior research technologist at Mayo Clinic and founder of BioAM, a monthly meet-up group dedicated to fostering a biobusiness start-up culture in Rochester.