This week, the Max Planck Institute is celebrating its opening in Jupiter and the Naples Post ran a story trumpeting the success of Life Sciences in Florida. Does that mean we can claim success and go home with the impression that all is well in Florida Life Sciences?
Not by a long shot. The numbers quoted are impressive only in comparison to where Florida was 10 years ago, but they pale in significance to the Life Science centers of excellence we compete with. Max Planck and Scripps cooperating in Jupiter is nothing compared with the multi-institute cooperation in San Diego or Boston. 219 Life Science companies in all of Florida, the fourth largest state in the country, is less than the number housed in one building in Cambridge or South San Francisco.
Is the glass half full or half empty? That depends on your viewpoint, but one thing is clear – there is a lot more to be done if Florida is to achieve its goal as a center of Life Science excellence. We must not fool ourselves, but instead, be realistic about where we are in comparison with others. We must overcome our parochialism and start working across local lines, at least regionally, to overcome the great disadvantage of geographic dispersion. And most of all, we must have leadership to bring our efforts together to gain the critical mass needed to achieve self-sustaining growth.