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Venture Capital, Hot Spots, Salary Surveys Past, Blade Computing


Last year's June issue of Genome Technology included a feature story that delved into the world of venture capital in the life sciences. Even a year ago, the marketplace for new life science startup companies was becoming a bit tighter than it had been in the past, though investments were still being made. In the first quarter of 2008, four venture-backed life science companies went public and, according to PricewaterhouseCooper's MoneyTree, $1.08 billion was invested in 132 biotechnology deals during that time. These days, investments are more difficult to come by — for the first quarter of 2009, MoneyTree reports that $577 million was invested in 81 deals. However, Chad Waite, managing director of OVP Venture Partners, told our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News earlier this year that "there is no shortage of good ideas just because the economy is bad."

In June 2008 we also looked into the hot and the up-and-coming regions for biotech. The established regions included the Boston/Cambridge area, the Bay Area, and North Carolina's Research Triangle, among many other well-known spots. The upstarts on the list were Alabama, with Rick Myers' move to HudsonAlpha; Oslo with its Cancer Cluster, to which the Norwegian government gave expertise status; and China, particularly Shanghai, where Novartis announced a $100 million R&D center. In January, the Norwegian government unveiled a plan to rescue its life science industry, including the Oslo Cancer Cluster. Part of the plan was to triple innovation loans from $44.8 million to $133 million.

2004 marked GT's second annual salary survey, in which 1,180 of our readers participated. Back then, PhD scientists reported that their median income was in the $75,000 to $99,999 range. Three percent of the respondents had been laid off over the course of the preceding year and four percent had suffered a pay cut. For the stats on this year's salary survey, head to page 36.

That year the magazine also spoke with SUNY Buffalo's Jeffrey Skolnick, who was ahead of the curve and replacing his 4,000-processor cluster with a 1.32 teraflop IBM blade system. The blades, he said, allowed for a smaller footprint. Skolnick has since moved to Georgia Tech, where he heads up the Center for the Study of Systems Biology. One of the facilities at the center is a RAZOR cluster, a 1,000-node IBM cluster that can perform 8.5 trillion calculations per second. As of January 2007, the cluster contained 1,154 blades.

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