BioMed SA unveiled its detailed action plan to identify, develop and recommend specific opportunities for growing San Antonio’s biomedical sector. Highlights from the industry action plan were presented to healthcare and bioscience local stakeholders at the organization’s annual membership meeting Tuesday morning.
BioMed SA is a nonprofit organization established in 2005 to raise the visibility of San Antonio’s biomedical and healthcare sectors. During the last decade, the organization’s mission has evolved to include economic development, BioMed SA president Ann Stevens said. The industry action plan is part of the City of San Antonio’s overall strategic plan for economic development called Forefront SA.
Working in concert with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, BioMed SA’s plan includes more than 80 actionable recommendations for government and community stakeholders that will help attract, create, and grow bioscience companies as part of San Antonio’s overall plan for economic development.
The City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and the Texas Research and Technology Foundation provided support for the plan’s development. Recommendations focus on five healthcare challenges in which San Antonio already possesses renowned research capabilities: diabetes, infectious diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, and regenerative medicine, trauma, and wound healing. The plan also includes recommendations to foster collaborative efforts between San Antonio researchers and military medicine across these and other disease areas.
San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience industry contributed a little over $40 billion to the city’s economy in 2017 according to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce 2018 Healthcare and Bioscience Economic Impact Study. This sector employs over 18 percent of San Antonio’s population, a number that highlights the steadily growing trend in healthcare and bioscience as a driver of San Antonio’s economy.
“The healthcare and bioscience sector employs one in six residents, and we are well positioned from our collaborative research and educational institutions to accelerate this progress,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told attendees. “I believe that we can both advance equity in community health and also prosperity by translating innovative research into economic development.”
Frost & Sullivan’s director of consulting for transformational health Charlie Whelan explained interviews with more than 120 local, regional, and national industry leaders, disease experts, and economic development professionals throughout the past year or so informed the action plan.
“By harnessing our collective potential and executing on specific tactical recommendations, San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience sector is well positioned to be competitive on a global scale,” Whelan said.
The action items focus on attracting biomedical talent and promoting resident expertise needed to fuel San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience sectors, as well as on building new sources of funding for local companies, developing incentives to make San Antonio a more attractive location for businesses, and supporting innovators’ transition of research discoveries to the commercial marketplace.
The 83 recommendations include forming a consolidated jobs board, career networking programs, and city-sponsored relocation packages to help life sciences professionals and their families relocating to San Antonio. Other recommendations include creating working groups and scientific advisory boards aligned along specific bioscience disciplines, as well as hiring a life science grants writer who could provide grant writing services for free to local companies.
The plan is designed to also encourage the development of more biotechnology and digital healthcare startups that could help showcase San Antonio as a city for bioscience innovation. Specific recommendations outline ways to improve access to more funding sources, rewarding innovation with scientific competitions, and supporting the commercialization of research for the marketplace.
BioMed SA will hold a series of workshops with local industry leaders to help inform the plan’s next steps with tactical actions. Whelan said some of the recommendations could be implemented in 2019 with the rest requiring longer-term planning. He told attendees organizations could request a detailed briefing from BioMed SA on the plan’s recommendations for strategic alignment and implementation.
“This comprehensive, yet focused, plan builds on cumulative past efforts and identifies realistic and impactful opportunities to ignite future economic growth in our sector,” Stevens said. “The intent is to provide tangible recommendations that meet our stakeholders where they are today, with a clearly designed pathway toward where we all want to be tomorrow.”