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P.E.I. celebrates Global Biotech Week with Sept. 24 panel discussion

Martin Yuill, left, director of Emergence Bioscience Business Incubator in Charlottetown, talks with Ken Rotondo, president and founding partner of the U.S. company Mind Geonomics Advisors, at the launch of Global Biotech Week (Sept. 24-30) on Monday at the Delta Prince Edward.
Martin Yuill, left, director of Emergence Bioscience Business Incubator in Charlottetown, talks with Ken Rotondo, president and founding partner of the U.S. company Mind Geonomics Advisors, at the launch of Global Biotech Week (Sept. 24-30) on Monday at the Delta Prince Edward. - Terrence McEachern

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Mentoring new biotech companies can have some challenges, especially as times and technology change over the decades.

But there are some universal, “never fail” practices and advice that still hold true.

That was one topic a panel of biotech mentors discussed at the Global Biotech Week celebration on Sept. 24 at the Delta Prince Edward.

“I’ve never really been led wrong by a customer,” responded mentor Robert Kincaide.

“In the broader sense, of course, they’ll want a better deal or something like that. But, in principle, what the customer really needs done, and why, that foundation transcends every decade … But the starting point of business is you solve a customer’s need on a sustainable basis and maintain a point of excellence and differentiation in that thought and keep motivating your organization towards that … (It) has worked every decade and will work for the next 10 more decades.”

Kincaide began his career at Procter & Gamble in brand development and has more than 40 years of new product and strategic brand development. The other mentors on the panel were David Hankinson, Byron Beeler, Wayne Fisher, Dale Zacijeck and Don Ridley. Volunteer mentors work with the incubator’s 66 client companies while 10 companies receive group mentorship by invitation only.

“What’s fueling that growth is identifying and nurturing early stage bioscience startup companies. So again, that’s why that angle is particularly important, because they will be the big companies of the future, obviously, and the job creators of tomorrow.”
Martin Yuill

This year’s event was co-organized by the P.E.I. BioAlliance and Emergence Bioscience Business Incubator in Charlottetown. Other activities planned for the week include a biotech, beer and trivia event.

“From our point of view, the importance really is attracting new, young companies out of the bedroom, basement or garage. It’s finding new companies, and using an occasion like this, to demonstrate the value of an incubation program and the value that mentorship provides to early stage startup companies,” said Martin Yuill, the incubator’s director.

Besides the mentor panel (in the afternoon session), other activities on Monday included a panel discussion by local entrepreneurs (business founders) and the keynote address by Ken Rotondo, president and founding partner of the U.S. company Mind Geonomics Advisors. Premier Wade MacLauchlan also spoke at the event and made a declaration of Global Biotech Week on Prince Edward Island.

On the topic of “never fail” universal practices and advice, Hankinson (a retired senior executive with experience in the international pharmaceutical industry) added that a fundamental that hasn’t changed is surrounding yourself with the best talent, and “getting them involved in the business so they feel a part of it.”

“It’s extremely important that everybody knows what the goal is, everybody knows what they’re accountable for and they buy in,” he said.  

Global Biotech Week (Sept. 24-30) has been celebrated on P.E.I. since 2006. Since then, according to the P.E.I. BioAlliance, the number of biotech companies on P.E.I. has grown from around 12 to more than 55 – and the number of employees has grown to more than 1,600.

Yuill added that the event helps keep the focus on the growing biotech and bioscience sectors and how they contribute to P.E.I.’s economy.

“What’s fueling that growth is identifying and nurturing early stage bioscience startup companies. So again, that’s why that angle is particularly important, because they will be the big companies of the future, obviously, and the job creators of tomorrow,” he said.

Twitter.com/terry_mcn

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