Angels: State ‘promising’ for life science investing
BANK ON IT: Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, back to camera, speaks with Sovereign Bank U.S. President Jorge Moran, center, and Ed Morata, head of corporate banking for Sovereign Bank at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Breakfast.
“Rhode Island is a very promising place to start a life sciences community,” Timothy Ehrlich, co-founder of the investment group Ocean State Angels, told a group of about 400 business, education and government leaders on March 12.
“The opportunities here are amazing. In addition to research at the universities, there are other pockets. We’re trying to bring all the pieces together to create a robust ecosystem,” he said at the annual Economic Outlook Breakfast hosted by Sovereign Bank and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at the Omni Providence Hotel.
The outlook event included a real-time survey of the attendees on their views of the economic future of Rhode Island and the nation. Two-thirds expect the national economy to be somewhat better in the next 12 months.
On the outlook for the Rhode Island economy over the next year, 42 percent thought it will be somewhat better, while 49 percent thought it will stay about the same.
Ehrlich said Ocean State Angels, which works to foster and grow the life sciences industry in Rhode Island, wants to see the state aggressively lure scientists looking for an accessible community where their research can stand out.
“Cambridge and Boston are almost becoming over-saturated,” Ehrlich said. “There are a lot of young companies that are looking for more support, more attention and more access to physicians for clinical trials.”
Ehrlich co-founded Ocean State Angels with his father, Dr. Michael Ehrlich, chief of orthopedics at Rhode Island Hospital. Both were on a panel of experts offering perspective with an eye toward strengthening the state’s economic future.
“We want to support only companies that will stay in Rhode Island for the next five years, at least,” said Michael Ehrlich, who said financial support and entrepreneurial expertise will help young biotech companies “cross that Death Valley” from startup to sustainability.