Kevin Conroy, CEO of Madison’s fast-growing Exact Sciences cancer diagnostic company, said Tuesday that Wisconsin could use Switzerland as a role model to grow its biotech companies, increase innovation and fuel economic development.
Exact Sciences developed Cologuard, the first FDA-approved, noninvasive screening test for colorectal cancer. Conroy, a former patent attorney who headed Third Wave Technologies, spoke at a Wisconsin Innovation Network luncheon.
Martin Dahinden, the Swiss ambassador the United States, also addressed the gathering. He praised research coming out of UW-Madison and said his country is eager to collaborate with Wisconsin. He said Swiss companies employ 8,000 workers in Wisconsin and he noted that his country and the Badger State have long record of economic cooperation, particularly in the drug and biotech industry.
“We can look to Switzerland for inspiration,” said Conroy. “We can learn from the Swiss story and make changes to our political systems, our innovation engine and educational systems to approach what is happening in Switzerland.”
Conroy said the United States and Wisconsin need to do more to promote entrepreneurship and new companies. He said studies by the Kauffman Foundation show that startups less than a year old have, over the past 30 years, created 3 million jobs annually – even during periods of recession. By contrast, he said older companies have shed jobs, especially during down economic cycles. Read more …