Hi and welcome to CausePods, I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at CausePods, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or their taking on global issues.
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All right, folks, we are going to do something a little bit different here today, we are joined by Rich Bendis. He’s the founder, president and CEO of Bio Health Innovation.
Bio health innovation is all about raising awareness and helping to stoke bio health, innovation and business development in the Buyoff Capital region. That’s the area between basically Baltimore, D.C. and Virginia, especially in this past year. With everything going on related to the pandemic and health crises, now’s as good a time as any to think about and to highlight the folks who are trying to make us all healthier and better people. And before we get started, before I say welcome to Rich, I should also just disclose real quickly that Rich and biotech are, in fact a client of the podcast consultant.
So it is a double honor to have him here on today. Rich, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods and Mathew.
Thank you very much for introducing me with Andy Aykut to podcasting. We’ve been doing this for years now and they have over eighty five podcasts which you’ve been involved in helping edit and produce. So you’re doing a great job.
Thank you very much. Depth what it is that bio health innovation does and why you are involved in this space specifically.
Bryan Health Innovation is a nonprofit 501 c three private public partnership, so we created or basically created bio health innovation to identify emerging scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, businesses who have what we turn to be commercially relevant science and technology that may have the opportunity to get into the marketplace to improve people’s lives. And so, I mean, we hope that with the science and the entrepreneurs we’re supporting, there may be some new discoveries that would enable people to increase the quality of their life based on a new therapeutic diagnostic vaccine that we’re trying to help entrepreneurs or small businesses get access to the resources they need to evaluate the market, potential commercialization opportunities, identify the strategic partners for them that may come from industry as well as potential investors that might be interested in funding their business or their science, either from a dilutive or a non dilutive perspective, meaning getting access to grants at the federal, state, local level that might help support this high risk research, which is difficult to fund in the early entrepreneurial stage.
Is this how medical research is always been? It feels like something as important as our health and medical research and obviously in the backdrop of a pandemic, the kind of incredible work that we’ve seen in developing vaccines so quickly and raising awareness and trying to keep people safe, like was the space always this convoluted, complicated? Is there work being done to make it more efficient or is this really the best way for it to for innovation to happen?
Well, it’s a challenging environment. It’s not like you’re trying to develop an app which you can actually write in a day. Sometimes a lot of this research requires regulatory approval, has to go through clinical trials. It takes a long time to get a medical device or a therapeutic or a diagnostic or a vaccine into the marketplace. Normally, it takes a lot of money, a lot of patients. You have to have extremely qualified scientists who are working at the bench or in the laboratory working on this science.
And I think what’s unusual Mathew, is it’s you can see that with, what, 19 when you put all the words to bear that could actually accelerate this process. What it takes is a partnership between government, academia and industry working together. You know, that project Warp Speed, which was a federal program to help accelerate the discovery of a vaccine for covid-19, they invested almost 20 billion dollars that went to small and large companies to accelerate their research because a lot of companies would not traditionally fund this research themselves because there wouldn’t have been a market for the product or the science or the technology.
And they wanted to get a vaccine developed as quickly as possible so we could get shots in the arms of people. And what normally would have taken five to seven years to get a new vaccine in the market has, as we have seen basically with what’s happening with Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, we were able to do this in less than a year. So what you’re seeing is nontraditional commercialization of research occurring when everybody has the ability to work together and you have that adequate funding that can accelerate the discovery that’s needed in an emergency or a crisis or a pandemic situation.
So in the nontraditional world, Mathew, basically it is much more complicated. It doesn’t happen as quickly. The funding isn’t generally there for this high risk research. The market has not been identified that you can get something into the marketplace until you get it further into its discovery in its clinical trial phases. So we are very fortunate. In the Bryan health capital region, we have become somewhat the epicenter around covid-19 solutions for it in a therapeutic diagnostic and a vaccine space.
We’ve been very fortunate that 40 percent of the federal funding that’s gone into the research to discover vaccines has come right into almost one county in the United States. Montgomery County, Maryland, where we have AstraZeneca, where we have GlaxoSmithKline, we have Novavax, we have emergent bio solutions, who is been a long term supplier. Of anthrax vaccines to the federal government and is now going to be in the process because of the expertize they have in manufacturing of manufacturing and AstraZeneca and Johnson Johnson and right here in our bio health camp, a reason I guess the key is we’ve been very fortunate to be in this epicenter to help create some of the solutions for this pandemic.
And as you know, we also have the FDA located in Montgomery County, Maryland. So you’ve had the emergency youth authorization, the accelerated approvals for these vaccines, which had to go through the FDA. We’ve had the HHS Barletta, NIH Naiad, which Dr. Foushee runs it right in our backyard in Montgomery County, Maryland, as well. So long winded answer to say two parts. One, we’re going through nontraditional discovery of this vaccine for the pandemic because of the crisis that’s been created globally.
But entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers generally don’t have the benefit of a crisis to take their markets through that commercialization phase to evaluate whether or not they can get it into the marketplace.
I think notably when we talk about the vaccines that we are getting, we had a lot of people, you know, they are talking about Moderna and they’re talking about Viser, they’re talking about Johnson Johnson. But much of the vaccine was actually developed by smaller firms that were then acquired by these larger institutions. Right.
And while that’s true and then also you have scientists and researchers around the world and in the United States who have been doing work on monoclonal antibodies that are necessary to develop the vaccines. And these researchers generally may have been funded through the National Institute of Health, who funded a grant to their university for them to conduct this research. And one of the ones we know very well, as Dr. James Crowe, who is one of the top researchers, Vaccine World, is at Vanderbilt University.
He’s helped develop the antibody for the AstraZeneca vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University. And as far as we know, it’s not in the United States yet, but it’s being used in the United Kingdom and Canada and some other countries around the world. Dr. Krewe’s also done work around GSK, JNJ in search of bio solutions. So you’re correct that the scientist sometimes who are unknown are the ones behind the research that actually gets us to that final product that is being developed or produced by these large corporations whose names we know.
But sometimes the the the hidden talent is happening in the small laboratory, in a small business or in a research university that helps get this product to market quicker and hence why a bayti exists in the world to make those connections, make those relationships, help people with funding and grants and connecting them with the other institutions in the area. Like you said, being in the capital health region where you have clear access to the federal government and many of the agencies that are surrounding that are going to help them out.
So, you know, that’s what makes me such an important institution. So with all that being said, why is it that almost four years ago, you and Andy, who we call affectionately, called your handler earlier, why is it that I decided that you wanted to be in the podcasting game? What was it about this medium that you thought would be useful in your mission of making these connections and building these relationships?
Well, Mathew, I’ve had a long history of doing different types of communication externally, and I produce a daily newsletter called Ailee, which I’ve been doing for almost 15 years now. It’s an electronic newsletter that goes out. It’s for free, no subscribers, and it’s trying to educate people on entrepreneurial innovation trends that are happening around the world. VHI also has an electronic newsletter, Bryan News, which goes out about twenty thousand people once a week to do the same purpose of education, making people aware of what’s going on within our industry and also had the ability to do live radio.
I used to have a radio show called Tech Talk and really enjoyed doing live interviews with people and we focused on technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and finance. And so I thought it was a natural extension because there wasn’t anything being done in the bio health, capital or region that was really trying to make people aware of the quality of the science, the researchers, the entrepreneurs that we have in our region. And we created bio talk to give people exposure to some of those unknown stars that we have in our region, as well as exposure to some of the larger companies which they have to have difficulty accessing.
And by doing a podcast with these leaders, whether they be entrepreneurs, scientists, government officials, CEOs of large corporations, or making people aware of the organizations and talent that we have in the bio health capital region and giving some of them exposure that they otherwise wouldn’t get.
And have you seen success from the podcast, specifically? Our View? There’s a famous podcast there who always says, you know, because of my podcast and I wonder because of this podcast, what has been the benefit to Bryan to the capital health? Regionally, specific examples are good stories you want to share with us.
Well, I think that really the podcast is, you know, it was really a differentiated communication vehicle and we started it four years ago. And what’s happening now is rather than us having to go to people to ask them to appear on Liautaud podcast, we’re getting inquiries from people all over the United States as well as in our region who have had a chance to listen to it and are asking if they can be interviewed on the podcast as well. Now, what is that done for the bio health capital region of VHI?
It’s given us exposure to a region that really sometimes is in the shadows of Boston, San Francisco or New York City. And the other thing that has helped do is propel us with our goal. We want to be a top three biopharma region or cluster in the United States by twenty, twenty three. And about five years ago, we were ranked number of genetic engineering news and who does a annual ranking at the top 10 biopharma clusters in the United States.
And in the last five years, based on everything that all of the stakeholders within the region have been working to do, we have climbed to number four. We bypassed San Diego in Research Triangle, and our goal is to bypass New York in the next couple of years. And we think that’s achievable. So the podcast is just another one of those instruments or vehicles that helps create awareness about the strengthen the strength of our companies, scientists, researchers in the assets that we have within our region.
So I think that’s probably one of the best things that’s happened as a result of the podcast is increased visibility, increased branding in a number of people who have appeared on bio talk have also been able to generate new relationships or partnerships and in some instances may have been introduced to new investors who heard them for the first time broadcasting on the biotech talk podcast. So the other thing we like to do on the show is we always like to raise awareness for a good cause.
And I mean, you get to work with so many good causes, so many institutions, but one that is personal to you. I know in our working relationship, we’ve talked about a little bit, but you yourself have battled cancer a couple of times and you’ve had lots of family. And so today we are raising awareness for the American Cancer Society cancer drug. Obviously, we’ll put a link in the show notes and anybody who is able to if you could click on there and give more multination, they’ll be helpful.
But, you know, it’s us a little bit about your personal relationship to cancer, both for yourself and for your family. And you know why I guess what it is that you do is just also so important, as you know, with that backdrop in mind.
Yeah. Thank you. It’s it’s the cancer has affects lots of people around the world and their families. And there’s almost every no family that’s been touched in some way. But I guess it really started with my parents. They got to live a long life, which was very fortunate. Ninety five and ninety seven. But my dad had prostate and colon cancer. My mother had colon cancer. My sister has had cancer. And as I have mentioned to you, I’ve had prostate cancer, went through radiation treatment.
That just was about three years ago where at this point cancer free had my check out a check up a couple of months ago. And then also I’ve had some skin cancer twice. And, you know, that’s probably one of those things. When you’re growing up, you never think about being out in the sun and it comes back to haunt you later in life. And so, you know, that’s something I would also tell everybody is you never you should always be protective of your skin, always wear hats, always wear your sunscreen.
Had it once on my arm, once on my face. And again, that has been corrected and removed. But that also I’m vulnerable again, you know, and I have to be a lot more sensitive to what I do out in the sun in the future. But I you know, we help support what’s going on with prostate research. You know, one of the benefits of what I do every day, Mathew, is that with bio health innovation, we have a chance to interact with the National Institute of Health.
And for people who don’t know it, there’s twenty seven different research institutes that have been on NIH and they’re all located within Montgomery County, Maryland. And of course, the largest institute is the National Cancer Institute. And we have the ability to help see some of the new discoveries coming out of the National Cancer Institute. And we have a program called On Residents, where we have nurses and residents that work within the National Institute of Health, and they help not just in the bio health Campa region, but they help support small businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers throughout the whole United States.
So I guess at this particular point in time, and especially with the pandemic in the last year, we’ve been blessed to be in the health care industry because we have not been as negatively impacted as many other industries were. And also, you know, this research has to continue in spite of it, because a lot of people now know or recognize how important this research is that needs to be funded on an ongoing basis so that we can be proactive to address future diseases and pandemics rather than being reactive like we have this time.
So again, though, we’ve all been impacted by cancer. Thank you for mentioning the American Cancer Society, which does very good work. And a lot of their money goes to significant research at an early stage for some of these well-known cancers, as well as what we would call orphan cancers a lot of people don’t know about.
Well, once again, folks, American Cancer Society cancer dot org will put a link in the show, notes. Rich, before we let you go, we always like to ask folks, you know, now that you’ve been doing this podcast for almost four years, as of this chat, we’ve put together Episode eighty four together, what would be your advice to anybody else was a good cause. He’s trying to make a positive impact as far as, you know, what they could do to, you know, have a podcast or have an effective podcast.
Well, basically, if you have an audience and you have a vision and a mission, best thing in the world to do is to share your knowledge, share your network, share your contacts and utilize the podcast, which is not a very difficult vehicle to get into the business. I mean, if you have experts like my handler, as you say in the effort and you have podcast masters like Mathew, Passy, just basically surround yourself with the professionals and all they have to do is wind you up and you basically can create your podcast and you don’t have to always do it in an interview forum format.
You can do basically podcasts that are educational or you’re just talking. You, the audience, but I like the interaction of having the ability to interact with people, to get them involved in the podcast, give them exposure, make people aware of some of these interesting and stimulating people that we have around the United States and around the world.
We’ve been chatting with Rich Bendis, president, founder, CEO of Bio Health Innovation, host of the Bio Talk with Richmonders podcast. You can find an Apple, Google, Spotify, wherever you find your podcast. Rich, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods today. Thank you, Mathew.
And keep up the good work and make sure that we edit talk.
Well, thanks for listening to this episode of CausePods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at CausePods.org.
There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here. In this episode. You will also find a CausePods.org boet to subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, How to sign up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.
And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends, a pod page. But you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for CausePods. And before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Killoy of the Military Veteran Dad podcast and what a great job he has done. And all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rojas here at the podcast.
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