UNTHSC teams up with Bios Partners on entrepreneurship program

By Jeff Carlton 

Startup Series

Who:  Bill Burns, founder of Encore Vision, along with Les Kreis and Stella  M. Robertson, both of Bios Partners.

What: The trio will share the story behind Encore’s successful development of a treatment for presbyopia and subsequent sale to Novartis for $375 million.

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4

Where: UNT Health Science Center, Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, 3430 Camp Bowie Blvd.

More info: Click here to register, or contact robert.mcclain@unthsc.edu.

UNT Health Science Center and Fort Worth venture capital firm Bios Partners are teaming up to create an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program to assist UNTHSC with technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. 

Bios Partners will make its entrepreneurial expertise available on a monthly basis to all UNTHSC students, staff and faculty members, as well as to incubation client companies with lab space at the Health Science Center. 

“I’m excited about the relationship because I know we can help UNTHSC with its commercialization efforts,” said Les Kreis, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Bios Partners. “With our understanding of biotech and capital markets, we can assist UNTHSC in developing strategies to help create the best opportunities.” 

The agreement calls for a speaker series open to the public that features entrepreneurs and commercialization experts sharing their successes and experiences. Bios and UNTHSC also will collaborate on developing a special topics course on entrepreneurship that will be available through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. 

“The program will create a unique opportunity for UNTHSC personnel to engage directly with a venture capitalist,” said Robert McClain, PhD, Associate Vice President of Research and Innovation at UNTHSC. “These conversations have the potential to inspire students in entrepreneurship and infuse a market perspective into research projects.” 

The first Startup Series features Bill Burns, who founded Encore Vision a dozen years ago and ultimately developed an eye drop to treat presbyopia, a common condition that causes blurry vision and forces many older adults to wear bifocals. 

 Burns Web2Burns and Encore briefly spent time working out of a discovery lab at UNTHSC. With Bios Partners as an early investor, Burns eventually sold the company and its technology to the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis for $375 million, plus undisclosed milestone payments. 

Joining Burns at the seminar will be Kreis and Stella M. Robertson, PhD, Co-Founder of Bios Partners. The seminar begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the atrium of the Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, 3430 Camp Bowie Blvd. 

“Entrepreneurship is an increasingly necessary skillset for physicians in a changing health care environment and for scientists in a changing funding environment,” said Dr. Michael R. Williams, President of UNTHSC. “As a former hospital CEO, I know there is tremendous value in physicians thinking like entrepreneurs. And with federal funding becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, our researchers have an opportunity to pivot to conducting translational research with a more entrepreneurial mindset.” 

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