CURE was formed in the 1980s by Connecticut’s legacy pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Bayer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Yale University.  The purpose was to establish in CURE an unbiased and objective source for information and education about the nature and practice of life sciences research and development.

CURE’s mission expanded when the important policy changes that occurred as a result of the passage of the federal Bayh-Dole Act began to manifest themselves in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Bayh-Dole gave the intellectual property rights created with the aid of federally-funded research to the university recipients of the funding. Bayh-Dole caused several research projects at Yale to emerge as potential for-profit companies.  Through what became Yale’s technology transfer department – its Office of Cooperative Research –capital sources and management talent were paired with life science-related intellectual property, and the first generation of Connecticut biotechs was born (e.g., Alexion, Genaissance, Curagen and Rib-X (now Melinta)).  CURE broadened its educational efforts on behalf of the Connecticut life sciences to encompass these early stage companies, and took on the role as their policy “advocate.”

In the 1990s, Connecticut enlisted Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter to provide advice about how to make the state more attractive to small companies and entrepreneurs.  Porter’s prescriptions included a focus on the life sciences, several significant changes to Connecticut’s tax code and a call for a more overt organizational center for the state’s nascent biotechs and pharmaceutical companies.  At Porter’s urging, CURE took on the latter role and prepared a legislative agenda encompassing his tax policy changes.

Porter targeted biopharma because of Connecticut’s pre-existing base of pharmaceutical companies,Yale’s rich history of ground breaking life sciences research  and the University of Connecticut’s growing base of life sciences expertise. Porter underscored that, owing to Connecticut’s indigenous pharmaceutical companies and Yale’s emphasis in the life sciences (its valuable disproportionate investment in the life sciences compared to peer institutions), Connecticut was especially well positioned to build a powerful biotech “cluster.”  He emphasized the positive economic impact of such a center of life sciences research and development for the Connecticut economy–especially important given the headwinds then faced by the state’s legacy manufacturing and defense industries.  Porter pointed to economic analyses that consistently show biopharma to have close to or indeed the greatest economic multiplier of any industry—while requiring little in the way of public physical infrastructure and putting little strain on the environment.  Similar reasoning underpinned Governor Malloy’s recent decision to recruit The Jackson Laboratory to Connecticut.

Post Bayh-Dole and in the wake of Porter’s work, CURE continued to expand its life sciences educational mission.  CURE focused on educating the public and policy makers about the nature of biopharma research and development and the needs of the Connecticut life sciences sector, including what economic development tools will cause Connecticut’s cluster to grow.  In addition, CURE began to advocate directly on behalf of Connecticut biopharma interests (often on very specific issues) before state and federal officials. CURE’s activities also included the development and implementation of a K-12 life science education program (in part through its mobile laboratories known as the “BioBus” program), stem cell and personalized medicine research legislation, and advocacy related to a myriad of state and federal tax, medicine-regulatory and intellectual property issues.  CURE’s K-12 programs reached more than 120,000 school children and 1,500 teachers

CURE’s work in the late 1990s to date has included taking the lead on several important policy fronts. Highlighted below are key policies and programs–initiated by CURE, where CURE drafted key language and where CURE’s advocacy was responsible for making them reality.

Creation of three critical research and development (R&D) tax credits/incentives

Connecticut now has three important R&D tax credits: (1) a 20% credit for “new” R&D (R&D transferred into Connecticut from out-of-state as well as any additional increment of R&D conducted in Connecticut over that which was conducted in Connecticut in the prior year); (2) a six percent tax credit on existing/ongoing R&D expenditures; and (3) for smaller technology companies, the ability to “trade-in” earned R&D tax credits ((1) and (2)) for a cash payment from the state equal to 65% of their value. Together these credits make Connecticut very competitive with other states and reinforce the importance of high value added work to Connecticut’s future (and to its policy makers).  In recent years, CURE has worked successfully in  very difficult budget years to keep Connecticut’s technology-favorable R&D policy in tact—“off the table”—to sustain both for the Connecticut cluster itself as well as a symbol of the state’s commitment to nurturing/growing the technology sector.

Creation of the sales and use tax exemption for biotechnology equipment

This exemption from Connecticut’s 6.35% sales tax is particularly important to biopharma companies given the extremely high cost of the equipment used in life sciences-related research.  It has been cited by Connecticut biotechs as the most valuable policy the state has enacted in terms of “bottom line” impact.  It acknowledges Connecticut’s status as a relatively “high cost” place to do business and helps to “level the playing field” with competitor states.

Increasing the net operating loss (NOL) period from five to 20 years

Typically, it takes 10-15 years to bring a new medicine or medical device from concept to Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved product.  Therefore, to attract and keep biopharma companies it is critical that they have the ability to carry hard-earned operating losses forward until the day a company is profitable. CURE’S successful advocacy for raising the NOL carry forward period helped put Connecticut in the top tier of states with respect to this critically important technology company incentive.

Stem cell research–creating a Connecticut ‘safe haven’ and a $100 million research fund

Connecticut’s $100 million-10-year stem cell research program was the first of its kind to be implemented (including being ahead of California’s stem cell initiative).  It allowed stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, to proceed at a time when the Bush administration put draconian restrictions on federal support for this highly valuable research.  The legislation was a clarion call to scientists that Connecticut was hospital to and, indeed, nurturing of this cutting edge research.  Connecticut’s stem cell research program has “put Connecticut on the map” with the international biomedical research community.  It has made possible key recruitments at Yale University and the University of Connecticut and made possible construction of critical stem research-specific infrastructure. The quality and quantity of Connecticut stem cell research can be measured in the substantial body of academic citations of Connecticut stem cell research.   It is not an overstatement to note that Connecticut discoveries have been a powerful force accelerating the advance of stem cell research around the world.  All biotech clusters, whether in Cambridge England, Cambridge Massachusetts or San Diego, are a function of the quality of the basic research emanating from their local research universities–Connecticut’s stem cell policy/funding is a pillar of the state’s existing life sciences cluster and an engine drawing ground breaking research and scientists to Connecticut. The recruitment of The Jackson Laboratories and its personalized medicine expertise to Connecticut was in no small way facilitated by center of excellence preexisting here in a related field, stem cell research.

Support for investment in early stage technology companies through Connecticut Innovations

Apart from the quality and quantity of the basic research of a state’s research universities, the greatest determinant of where scientists and entrepreneurs will site a new venture is access to early stage capital.   Therefore, CURE has long been highly supportive of the work of Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public venture capital firm.  Nearly all of CURE’s core biotech companies have been aided by CI–through an early investment that made possible their transition from academic lab to for-profit company, a follow-on investment to help them advance, or low cost financing for laboratory construction. CURE helped “make the case”–successfully–for enactment this Spring of the $200 million Bioscience Innovation Fund.  This fund will provide additional resources for CURE companies at every stage of development, will help launch new companies and provide additional resources to recruit companies to Connecticut.

Going Forward

As the depth and breadth of CURE’s mission expands, our work at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. will continue unabated.  This year, for example, an extremely difficult budget year for Connecticut—the state faced a $2 billion deficit—we worked successfully to protect the programs that directly benefit our members:  the 6% tax credit for continuing research and development, the 20% tax credit for new research and development, the 65-cents-on-the-dollar refundable R&D tax credit, the biopharma sales and use tax exemption, the angel investor tax credit,  the 20 year net operating loss carry-forward period and the $100 million stem cell research fund.  In addition, we carefully monitored and weighed in forcefully where necessary on a host of bills related to research and development and laboratory practices that might have negatively impacted life-sciences research.  Finally, we were a strong voice for all things entrepreneurial and conducive to building this robust bioscience understory.  Whenever and wherever necessary we took the opportunity to make the case for the Bioscience Innovation Act –which creates a $200 million fund for start-ups and entrepreneurs—and the $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut legislation—which will dramatically enhance the University of Connecticut’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

In Washington, we will continue our work to support funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the Career Acceleration Network (CAN).  In addition, we will strive to educate the Connecticut federal delegation about the negative impact that Medicare Part B reimbursement cuts and Medicare Part D mandatory rebates would have on the Connecticut biopharma sector.  We will vigorously support reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), renewed funding for the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund (SRF) and the Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA), and enactment of “track and trace” legislation.  Finally, we will make the case for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as for modification to the legislation, especially bills related to repeal of the Independent Payment Advocacy Board (IPAB).

As the depth and breadth of CURE’s mission expands, our work at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. will continue unabated.  This year, for example, an extremely difficult budget year for Connecticut—the state faced a $2 billion deficit—we worked successfully to protect the programs that directly benefit our members:  the 6% tax credit for continuing research and development, the 20% tax credit for new research and development, the 65-cents-on-the-dollar refundable R&D tax credit, the biopharma sales and use tax exemption, the angel investor tax credit,  the 20 year net operating loss carry-forward period and the $100 million stem cell research fund.  In addition, we carefully monitored and weighed in forcefully where necessary on a host of bills related to research and development and laboratory practices that might have negatively impacted life-sciences research.  Finally, we were a strong voice for all things entrepreneurial and conducive to building this robust bioscience understory.  Whenever and wherever necessary we took the opportunity to make the case for the Bioscience Innovation Act –which creates a $200 million fund for start-ups and entrepreneurs—and the $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut legislation—which will dramatically enhance the University of Connecticut’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

In Washington, we will continue our work to support funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the Career Acceleration Network (CAN).  In addition, we will strive to educate the Connecticut federal delegation about the negative impact that Medicare Part B reimbursement cuts and Medicare Part D mandatory rebates would have on the Connecticut biopharma sector.  We will vigorously support reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), renewed funding for the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund (SRF) and the Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA), and enactment of “track and trace” legislation.  Finally, we will make the case for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as for modification to the legislation, especially bills related to repeal of the Independent Payment Advocacy Board (IPAB).