Daily Business Report — June 25, 2014
Sir Richard Branson appears at the BIO International Convention in San Diego on Tuesday
Sir Richard Branson Urges Biotechers to Save the World
Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire businessman and adventurer, urged thousands attending a biotech convention Tuesday in San Diego to save the world from the effects of climate change. He called on “as many companies in this room [as possible] to get into this space,” while plugging his Virgin Earth Challenge, whose $25 million prize would go to someone who found an environmentally sustainable and economically viable way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
“We’ve had 10,000 submissions so far,” Branson said in a keynote chat at this week’s BIO International Convention at the San Diego Convention Center. “No breakthrough winner yet. … I actually think this is a prize that can be won.”
In a vast second-floor ballroom with 2,020 attendees from dozens of countries, Branson gave good entertainment value in an hour-long chat with BIO CEO Jim Greenwood, a former GOP congressman from Pennsylvania.
Wearing jeans, loafers and his usual open-to-the-chest white dress shirt, Branson sat down in a light-brown easy chair and remarked “Why are all the ties here?” Then he took a scissors and snipped off Greenwood’s red-and-blue-striped tie.
Greenwood got even minutes later after getting Branson to confirm details of his record-setting cross-ocean exploits by boat and balloon. Greenwood asked: “Ever [start] a biotech company?”
When Branson said, “I don’t think so,” Greenwood shot back: “Never had the guts?” Which led Branson to playfully pour some bottled water on Greenwood.
More than 15,000 are attending the convention, which runs through Thursday.
— Times of San Diego
Report: Biotech Provides Nearly 8 Million Jobs in U.S.
Bioscience companies employ 1.6 million people in the United States and indirectly are responsible for another 6.2 million jobs around the country, according to a report released in San Diego on Tuesday.
The sector has added 111,000 jobs since 2001, lost only 0.4 percent of its total positions from 2007-12 as a result of the recession and added more workers than other industries since the economic turndown, the report said.
“Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014” was released as part of the Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention under way at the San Diego Convention Center.
The study by Battelle, a Columbus, Ohio-based research and development firm, also found that bioscience companies pay their employees 80 percent more on average than other private sector industries.
“These biotech jobs are a critical economic component to states and local communities across the nation,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO.
San Diego was one of nine metropolitan areas in the U.S. to have clusters of at least four biotech specialties, including drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; research, testing and medical laboratories; and bioscience-related distribution, according to the report.
San Diego only lacks the agricultural feedstock and chemicals specialty.
A decline in federal research funding through the National Institutes of Health and a recent drop in private capital investment were listed as industry challenges in the report.
BIO called for regulatory systems that are predictable and grounded in science, strong domestic and international protection for intellectual property, medical reimbursement policies that foster the development of new medical products, sustaining of open markets, tax and incentive program that allow industry competitiveness, and education and workforce development improvements.
Former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak to attendees today.
— City News Service
Seattle Transit Leaders Hosted by C-3
Leaders from Seattle’s Department of Transportation, Regional Transit Agency and the nonprofit Transportation Choices Coalition will share lessons for effective planning at Citizens Coordinate for Century 3’s Breakfast Dialogue Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at the Wyndham Hotel, 1355 N. Harbor Drive in Downtown San Diego.
Seattle’s experience with working toward common ground, settling differences and moving the ball forward — in an era of low-to-no funding –will be discussed by Rob Johnson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition; Rachel Smith, government and community relations officer at Sound Transit; and, Goran Sparrman, interim director of Seattle Department of Transportation. Dana C. Hook, immediate past chair of the Women’s Transportation Seminar International Board and C-3 board member, will moderate.
Registration is at 7 a.m. Tickets are $25 for C-3 members and $35 for nonmembers. For reservations, visit www.c3saidiego.org or call (858) 277-0900.
Dempsey Finishes New School Construction
Dempsey Construction has completed a new 4,370-square-foot elementary school building on the campus of Country Montessori School at 12642 Monte Vista Road in Poway. The new facility houses first through sixth grades and features three classrooms, a reading room, outdoor working space, and flex space for art and science instruction.
The $1.4 million project included demolition of an existing ranch house constructed in 1948, including asbestos abatement and lead paint removal, to allow for construction of the new classroom facility. Improvements to the new building included an open beam and wood structure designed to take advantage of the natural light.
The Design-Build project took place while the residual school campus remained open and operating for students.
Qualcomm Co-Founder Gives $15M to USC
Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi and his wife, Erna, have given the University of Southern California $15 million to boost scholarship in engineering and genocide studies. The namesakes of the Viterbi School of Engineering, the Viterbis will support two areas of the university especially important to them, designating $10 million for the engineering school and $5 million to the Shoah Foundation.
Nearly ten years ago the couple gave $52 million to the engineering school, which was renamed in their honor. The Shoah Foundation is dedicated to producing audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides to build a compelling voice for education and action.
Albertsons Fined $3.3 Million for Handling of Hazardous Waste
Albertsons will pay $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the grocery company illegally transported, stored and disposed of hazardous waste at its stores and distribution centers, prosecutors said. Authorities in San Diego, and also in Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, along with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, alleged in a lawsuit that the supermarket chain mismanaged hazardous waste, including over-the-counter medications, pharmaceuticals, aerosol products, ignitable liquids, batteries, electronic devices, pool chemicals and other products.
The lawsuit alleged that the products were routinely illegally disposed of in trash bins or transferred to a third-party processor that was not certified to handle hazardous wastes.
In a statement posted on its website, the company insisted it complies with state and federal laws for hazardous waste. The grocer did not admit any wrongdoing in connection with the settlement, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court.
— City News Service
Whole Foods to Pay Nearly $800,00 for Overcharging
Whole Foods will pay nearly $800,000 to settle allegations of overcharging customers, prosecutors in San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Monica announced Tuesday. “Our citizens need to have confidence when they shop that the price advertised is the one that is charged,” San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.
According to prosecutors, Whole Foods will also appoint a pair of “state coordinators” to oversee pricing accuracy at stores throughout the state and designate an employee at each store to ensure pricing accuracy. The chain will also conduct random audits at stores four times per year.
The settlement agreement, which covers all 74 Whole Foods markets in the state, was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court and will remain in effect for five years.
Whole Foods spokeswoman Marci Frumkin said the company “takes our obligations to our customers very seriously,” and claimed that the company’s pricing on weighed and measured items were accurate “98 percent of the time.”
— City News Service
Gay Men’s Chorus Chooses New Artistic Director
The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus has named RC Haus as its new artistic director. Haus previously served as interim artistic director and assistant artistic director
within the organization. During his time as interim artistic director, Haus conducted the sold-out spring 2014 shows and is leading the upcoming “LUV Madonna—Music of the Material Girl” concerts on July 12 and 13 at the Balboa Theatre. He most recently founded the SDGMC dance troupe and the SDGMC Chamber Chorale, both of which will premiere at the summer shows.
Tickets for “LUV Madonna — Music of the Material Girl” are on sale for July 12 at 8 p.m. and July 13 at 3 p.m. at SDGMC.org or by calling (877) 296-7664. Tickets start at $29 and range to $70.