Advancing Indiana’s Life Sciences sector

Lori Leroy, EVP of communications at BioCrossroads

What do you know about Indiana? How about these facts:

  • Seven Indiana cities are recognized for their national Life Sciences strengths, according to Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and TEConomy Partners’ biennial survey of the US Life Sciences industry.
  • Indiana is also one of only nine states with employment specializations in three of five bioscience sectors and is ranked eighth for National Institutes of Health funding growth, with an increase of 44 percent over the years 2016 to 2019.
  • Indiana is home to the global headquarters of Anthem, Inc., Cook Medical, Eli Lilly and Company, and Zimmer Biomet. And it’s the North American headquarters of Roche Diagnostics, Beckman Coulter, Boston Scientific, Catalent Biologics, Corteva Agriscience, Covance, DePuy Orthopaedics, Express Scripts, Medtronic, and Reckitt Benckiser.

Flyover Future spoke to Lori Leroy, EVP of communications at BioCrossroads, which is involved in advancing the Life Sciences sector in Indiana even more.

Tell us about BioCrossroads.

Leroy: BioCrossroads was formed in 2002 as a way to organize the Life Sciences sector. There were some reports done previous to 2002 that outlined what some of Indianapolis’s strengths were. Of course, Life Sciences rose to the top because we’ve got Lilly and Roche among many other companies that are here.

BioCrossroads was formed to help advance the sector. We’re not a state entity. We are a non-profit.

What do you mean by “organize the Life Sciences sector”?

Leroy: To get people to talk to each other who might not talk to each other because a lot of them were operating in silos. We bring a lot of different organizations together, so we might have a project where we’ve got Lilly, Purdue, the School of Medicine at Indiana University, and Roche, for example, all participating.

Another thing we do is promote the state. We do a lot of educational activities and events. We also have a seed fund where we are investing in Life Sciences startups. Right now we have 29 companies in our portfolio.

Depending on the project or what someone needs, it requires us to do lots of different things. We organized the first health information exchange, which shares electronic medical records across hospitals, in 2015.

Is part of your effort to attract talent from the coasts?

Leroy: Yes, absolutely. We have over 2,100 companies in Life Sciences in Indiana. There are tons of opportunities. It’s not just the big companies. There are some really cool companies with 20 to 30 people, where they are doing pretty incredible work. So it’s really been amazing to see the transformation.

Can you give me an example of something you’ve done?

Leroy: We started the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute. Most institutes are formed out of a School of Medicine or a University setting. What was unique about what we wanted to do, we wanted it to be industry led.

When that formed in 2015 it was a combination of Lilly and Roche and Cook Medical and at the time Biomet, which is one of the orthopedic companies up in Warsaw, and IU Health and Dow Agri-sciences (at the time) who put money into creating this research institute focused on metabolic disease, because they all have vested interests in what is happening from a research standpoint in metabolic disease.

Instead of it being university-led, it was industry-led. They have tons of collaborations and partnerships with the School of Medicine and Notre Dame and Purdue, but they really did it as a way to try to move things out of those big industry companies and get research to accelerate a little bit faster.

We brought all of those people together to say, okay, what else could we do? What would be helpful to you and how can we help make that happen? We created an institute out of it.

Things are happening not just in Indianapolis. Bloomington has a ton of stuff going on, Lafayette. It’s not just our big cities but it’s some of the smaller ones too.

Once you break down those barriers, it’s pretty cool to see what different things have happened.