Vermont Biosciences Alliance Spring Newsletter

Spring Newsletter 
VBSA was created to foster recognition of medicine and bioscience as a leading industry in the Vermont region and promote economic and human well-being by strengthening sector attention, research resources, and venture growth. To the businesses and organizations who are currently members, thank you for supporting the bioscience industry in Vermont.

SAVE THE DATE! Upcoming 2018 Bio & Tech Beer events will be held on July 18th, and December 5th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Queen City Brewery, 703B Pine Street, Burlington. 
Our largest regional business to business trade show, held by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, will be Thursday, May 24th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington (formerly the Sheraton). 
Industry News
VtSBDC released their annual report on Vermont businesses this winter, revealing that Vermont small businesses saw an increase in sales and employment during 2017. Vermont small businesses saw an average of a 3% increase in sales last year, with VtSBDC client businesses doing even better, demonstrating the value of business advising and training. The VtSBDC estimates that more than 2300 jobs were created or maintained through Vermont small businesses last year.
BioTek is teaming up with Agilent, a global leader in life science products, to integrate two research instruments into one powerful and streamlined platform for studying cell metabolism. Agilent's Seahorse XFe Analyzers track cellular energy production by measuring mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis, while BioTek's Cytation 1 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader can be used for both brightfield and fluorescent imaging. By combining the two instruments, researchers will be able to produce results that integrate metabolic data with brightfield and fluorescent images, improving their ability to interpret these data. 
BIO has chosen journalist and cancer survivor Robin Roberts to speak at the 25th anniversary BIO International Convention celebrating the last two and half decades of biotech breakthroughs. The 2018 Convention is returning to Boston June 4-7 with the theme 'Make History', which Ms. Roberts will address through her prestigious career in journalism, as a two-time cancer survivor, and advocate for blood cancer research. 

The VBSA and representative members are excited to be attending this year's BIO Convention! 

Education News
Seema Jaipal, a P4 student at the Vermont Campus of the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), will represent the college for the second consecutive year at the APhA-ASP National Patient Counseling Competition to be held in Nashville, TN, in March. Jaipal earned her spot in the national event after winning a local competition. The goal of the Patient Counseling Competition is to encourage student pharmacists in their efforts toward becoming better patient educators. It is designed to reinforce the role of the pharmacist as a health care provider and educator, to reflect changes occurring in the practice of pharmacy, and to promote and encourage further professional development of the student pharmacist. 

Founded in 1881, ACPHS is a private, independent institution with campuses in Albany, New York and Colchester, Vermont. ACPHS is nationally ranked #1 Value-Added College by the Brookings Institution, and # 2 for Salary After Attending by U.S. Department of Education. 

A team of two entrepreneurship students from Vermont Technical College took first place in LaunchVT's pitch competition for college students with their innovative sugaring multi-tool. They won the chance to take their business concept, Green Mountain Maple Innovations, to the six-week LaunchVT program where they will work with a mentor, advisors, and other participants to refine their business model and pitch. In the culminating event they will have the opportunity to win seed money and meet investors, giving them the chance to make their concept a reality.
Vermont is a member of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program that seeks to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical research. The  IDeA-state en trepreneurship program (I-Trep) is a new NIH-supported education program based in Vermont. Continuing with our mission to provide training and education in biomedical entrepreneurship, the  I-Trep program is offering paid specialized  internships for 2017-2018.  The internships aim to provide career development for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and  graduate students from any Vermont-based academic institution and foster business-research collaborations within Vermont.   

Eligible hosts include any bioscience-based business or other businesses such as law offices or consultant firms that support the bioscience community. Terms of the internship are meant to be flexible to accommodate the desired career skill development or business-research partnership goals. The intern will be paid through the I-Trep grant and internships will be a maximum of 8 weeks in duration.

If your organization would like to participate, please contact Tina Thornton (, coordinator for the I-Trep program, for more information.
VBSA State House Reception
April 18, 4-6 pm, 2018

The Vermont BioSciences Alliance hosted a State House reception on the evening of Wednesday, April 18, as an opportunity for state legislators and bioscience professionals to meet and mingle. When asked why the VBSA was at the State House, Thomas Scarnecchia, President of the VBSA and Digital Aurora responded with "the biosciences are an important growth sector for Vermont so we wanted to provide the members of the legislature with the opportunity to meet our academic and industry leaders."

Many VBSA Board Members were in attendance, while a rotating number of state representatives passed through, sampled hors d'oeuvres, and chatted with VBSA members. Conversation ranged from historical aspects of living in Vermont to modern opportunities presented by technology and entrepreneurship. Bill Church, Board Member, explained how antibodies work and the significance of immunotherapy to one representative, while Mercedes Rincon, a UVM Professor of Immunobiology and entrepreneur, explained the origin of the I-Trep program (see exclusive write-up in this newsletter) to another.

Margaret Laggis, Treasurer of the VBSA and contract lobbyist for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), let representatives know that the VBSA, along with partner companies like Green Mountain Antibodies, Research Proteins, Chroma Technologies, UVM Innovations and the State of Vermont, will be hosting a pavilion at the BIO 2018 Convention for the first time this year. The BIO Convention is the largest global biotechnology event and an excellent opportunity to showcase Vermont's contributions to the biotechnology industry.

One subject that VBSA members continually impressed on state representatives was the challenge of doing bioscience in Vermont. "We have the ideas, but we don't have the infrastructure," declared Margaret Laggis. Dr. Rincon seconded, explaining that when she wanted to start her own biotechnology business, she struggled in Vermont and ultimately founded her start-up out-of-state.

"So, what you're saying," clarified one representative, ticking points off on his fingers, "is that we don't have incubators, we don't have venture capital, we have smart young talent but not the critical skills..." Without that infrastructure, including strong support of the State's flagship research university, starting a bioscience or technology business in Vermont is harder than it needs to be, and harder than it is in neighboring states. Margaret shared that when science-minded Vermont entrepreneurs come forward with innovative start-up ideas, they are often directed to go to states like Massachusetts or California, states that have solid venture capital, incubator infrastructure, and strong support of public and private research universities.

While leaving to start a business elsewhere may be a personal disappointment for innovative Vermonters, it's a bigger disappointment for the State. Successful Vermont bioscience businesses represent good jobs for educated Vermonters and recruitment opportunities for programs like the new Stay to Stay initiative.

But exactly what infrastructure would most help budding Vermont bioscience businesses? Dr. Rincon argued for an incubator, a place with the right resources and cheap rent where new bioscience start-ups could get off the ground together. The goal of an incubator facility is to bring start-ups together, encouraging collaboration and an entrepreneurship ecosystem that is more likely to attract the attention of bigger investors. Or, considering Vermont is concerned about getting resources to underserved parts of the state, it could be a network of incubators. With two or three incubators, possibly serving different themes, distributed near existing resources, more than one region could see the economic benefits.

These and other productive conversations made for a stimulating evening of discussion between the VBSA and state legislators. Events like the April 18th reception are a chance for the VBSA to convey the message that the biosciences provide sound economic opportunities for Vermont and Vermonters. We hope to see you at our next event!
We have a new face with the VBSA! Rachel Marie Sargent is taking over administrative and outreach duties from Susan Fayette. Rachel is a UVM alum who has worked in molecular biology research, taught informal science education, and written freelance science articles. She helped the VBSA re-launch the newsletter over 2017 and looks forward to broadening her role with the Alliance and the membership. If you have any questions or would like to welcome Rachel, you can email her at

Spring Member Drive is Here:
Thank you to all our members for their support over the past year! If you haven't renewed your membership yet, you can click here to renew online through the sign-up form.
Have friends at other businesses that are interested in bioscience and entrepreneurship in Vermont? Invite them to join the VBSA! Joining the VBSA sends a message of support for Vermont bioscience companies and organizations.   Click here   for more on the benefits of joining the VBSA and to sign up.
News: If your business has announcements, milestones, or projects they would like to share with the VBSA community, please get in touch with us! You can email your news and information to
Twitter:  Connect with VBSA on Twitter at
Member Benefit
VWR International
Laboratory Supplies, Equipment & Chemicals

BIO Business Solutions uses the buying power of the entire industry to deliver to every member - as a FREE benefit through your membership with VBSA your business qualifies for this discount.  The BIO-VWR program includes special pricing agreements with major manufacturers, plus many other member-only benefits.  

Click here for more information