Bioscience Conference speaker hopes to boost networking
WORTHINGTON -- The campus of UCLA may be far removed from the southwest Minnesota prairie, but it's not difficult for Cheryl Matter to draw comparisons between the two.
Matter, who's employed as senior program director for BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, will return to Worthington later this month and speak at the eighth annual Regional Bioscience Conference. The event is scheduled for March 29-30 at the Biotechnology Advancement Center, located at 1527 Prairie Drive.
Matter grew up in Minnesota and returned to her home state in November 2010.
"In my role with the BioBusiness Alliance, there are a couple of areas I'm working on," Matter said Thursday by telephone. "Some of it is international work and linking Minnesota firms to companies with access to capital, access to talent, access to technology. ... Secondly, I'm helping with creating systems that help companies, quite frankly, access a lot of direct support."
One example offered by Matter is the Minnesota Angel Network, which she admitted wasn't a result of her work but nevertheless originated out of BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. Minnesota Angel Network came about as a result of the discovery that, after work with 300 fledgling technology-based companies in Minnesota, the top need was access to funds.
"It's actually a business accelerator that helps early-stage companies prepare to go out and look for capital," Matter said. "There's a focus in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region as well as a focus on outstate Minnesota, too."
Matter sees the notion of a business accelerator as an important reason to attend the Bioscience Conference, which she also traveled to last year.
"It's a great opportunity to connect with a lot of the many different stakeholders who actually work in the targeted industries," she said. "There are a couple of these that are particularly strong in Worthington."
Matter sees the networking of these stakeholders as a key in developing Worthington's Biotechnology Advancement Center, which currently houses the community's University of Minnesota Extension offices, into a home for multiple businesses with feet in the bioscience arena.
"I think Glenn (Thuringer, Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Manager) will be talking about the center as an incubator base, in terms of creating a place or an environment where companies can set up and thrive," Matter explained. "I have experience similar to that ... doing PhD work at UCLA.
"The faculty in my department -- my PhD was in molecular pharmacology -- was starting an off-campus business incubator ... and they wanted to take that technology and spill it out in to companies," she added. "Then, after I finished my PhD, I did my post-doctoral fellowship in technology-based entrepreneurship."
Thuringer is looking forward to Matter sharing her knowledge and experience with conference attendees.
"I'm interested to find out how much she knows about the business incubator and accelerator programs," he said. "She has continued to research and study other facilities after she helped establish an accelerator and the education programs to support it while at UCLA. I see her as a great resource as we continue the build-up of the BAC and its educational programming."
Matter is scheduled to speak at both 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. on March 29. The conference's opening day also includes presentations on food safety by William J. Davis, CEO of Pacific Vet Group USA, and Round Lake native Lance Baumgard, an associate professor at Iowa State University, and "Launching a New Business: Navigating the Mine Field," which will feature three presenters and discuss the creation of a business plan, protection of intellectual property and raising capital.
Sessions for day two of the conference include "Regenerative Therapies" and "Innovative Strategies for Food and Fuel Replacements," along with -- as has become customary -- project displays by the Worthington Middle School Science Club.
"I think what's really great about the conference is it's small enough where it draws a lot of the right people from across the state and you can still interact with everybody," Matter said. "Glenn has also really been able to draw some top-notch talent down to Worthington."
The general public is invited to the conference. To confirm attendance register online at www.wgtn.net, or call WREDC at 372-5515 or the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919.
A complete schedule for the conference can be found at http://www.wgtn.net/biosciences/conference/index.htm.
Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey may be reached at 376-7320.