Plans made for next VentureTech Week

PERRYSBURG – Northwest Ohio’s first VentureTech Week has been so successful, plans are already being made
to host a second one in 2010.
The event is aimed at helping potential technology entrepreneurs network with peers, successful business
people and investors with venture capital. Wednesday evening’s opening session called Tech Connect drew
300 people, while about 200 attended Thursday’s all day Tech Fair.
It concludes today with an entrepreneurial "boot camp" to help persons with technological ideas
learn how to actually start a tech-based business. (Photo: Dr. Roger Newton, codiscoverer of Lipitor,
talks to Deanne Snavely of BGSU before giving his talk about his Esperion business and being an
entrepreneur while at the Hilton in Perrysburg. (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune))
The event, held at the Hilton Garden Inn, was organized by Toledo’s Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) and
Rocket Ventures, a specialized office of the RGP.
During Thursday’s lunch session, RGP President Steve Weathers announced, "We’d like to do this next
year." He requested input from the attendees "to make it more valuable for guests next year.
It’s something that’s never been done before," and the hope is to again showcase successful
entrepreneurs and high-tech companies willing to network with others.
Bowling Green State University has been the lead sponsor. "They really made a great effort to
promote this," said Julie Myers, marketing director for Rocket Ventures. "They have great
representation of both students and faculty."
"BGSU understands that technology is the key driver of the new economy," wrote BGSU President
Dr. Carol Cartwright in her letter to the event’s participants. "We’re helping northwest Ohio and
the state become a leader in green energy through our one-of-a-kind photochemical sciences program and
research in wind energy and biofuels."
BGSU’s Provost Dr. Kenneth Borland kicked off Thursday’s Tech Fair with his welcome during the breakfast
session which also featured keynote speaker Jim Haudan, founder and CEO of Root Learning in Sylvania.
During two sessions, 15 companies were able to make sales pitches to investors. The companies ranged
from alternative energy to bioscience, clean technology and advanced manufacturing.
As the luncheon keynote speaker, Dr. Roger Newton, founder and CEO of Esperion Therapeutics in Ann Arbor,
and a co-developer of the cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor, shared the journey of his company’s
founding, its acquisition and later, closing, by Pfizer, and how he restarted it.
In his introduction of Newton, Rocket Ventures Director Greg Knudson said sales of Lipitor now average
$13 billion worldwide, twice that of its nearest competitor. "That, to me, is a business
triumph," he stated.
A nutritional biochemist, Newton said while he worked for Parke-Davis its research team discovered 11
lead compounds, including Lipitor. But what happened in the automotive industry, consolidation, occurred
in the pharmaceutical industry, with the result that research and development groups were reduced.
Parke-Davis celebrated the discovery of the Lipitor compound, ignoring the 15 years of research it took
to find it and the work of 100s of people, and asked when "the next blockbuster" would come
But Newton noted that when a company is unwilling to take on risk, it "creates new opportunities for
new companies to start. You can actually start new companies with new ideas."
As a result, he left Park-Davis and formed Esperion Therapeutics in 1998 with friends who shared a common
vision for the company. The founders raised the funding they needed. "You can raise money when
people tell you you can’t," he said. The company built a portfolio of biopharmaceuticals which
focused on "good" cholesterol therapy and was "the belle of the ball" for about six
weeks before Pfizer acquired it for $1.3 billion in 2004.
Three years later it closed the company. In 2008 Newton restarted Esperion as an independent company with
$23 million in venture capital funds.