Science pulls in beside business on the networking trail

A local entrepreneur in Northeast Ohio is determined to help create a stronger business environment for his industry–medical devices. As CEO of Cleveland Medical Devices and cofounder of a networking group called NEOBio Bob Schmidt found the time to invite high-ranking speakers from a relevant agency of the government (Medicare has a powerful influence on whether a medical device gets approved–and therefore prescribed–for enough patients to make it a commercial success) and put together a program for interested participants.

And not only that, he’s committed to enlivening a part of the city of Cleveland called Midtown that has long lain in disuse. He’s renting space for his several companies in a rehabbed building there and offering space to relevant non-profit organizations. And he held this significant event in a beautiful old house that had for many years served as a center for high-priced blue-suit luncheons and other functions. Abandoned for a number of years (and looking strangely empty except for the rooms we occupied) a local business college recently purchased the place and is trying to reawaken it.

Yesterday’s event, at $95 each, was high-priced indeed, but the purpose of the event–to bring together the members of the bioscience industry in Cleveland for a truly informative gathering that would also serve to help members get to know each other–seemed like a high one. I suspect that, though the business community has been doing this sort of thing for years, it’s kind of new to the scientific community. As discoveries abound and business blossoms, members of the scientific community are having to learn more of the lessons of business–and it seems to come hard for some of them. Many scientists, like many entrepreneurs, are used to working in isolation. This networking stuff seems a little strange–and to some like a waste of time.

But a few guys in Cleveland are going to change that. Keep your eyes on this trend.

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