Stephen Ferruolo wants San Diego to have its own Genentech (NYSE: DNA). That's a tall order considering the San Francisco-based company launched in 1976 has more than 10,000 employees and is widely considered the founder of the biotech industry.
"It would be good for the San Diego economy if we could build a Genentech here," said Ferruolo, a partner in the business law department in the San Diego office of Goodwin Procter. "We would like to have more of those to support the cultural entities and universities.
Whether his dream will be fulfilled is an open question. The area now has more than 500 companies specializing in biotech, medical devices and diagnostic technology, according to the San Diego-based industry lobby BIOCOM. But it's not clear how many of those companies are startups that will eventually be acquired by a larger company in another city or state.
Ferruolo said biotech startups have to answer one question: "Whether or not we grow to become a successful, sustainable biotech company?"
Ferruolo's job is to help them answer the question. "The challenge is to help them build and grow here," he said.
In addition to being general counsel and vice president for BIOCOM, Ferruolo is co-chair of the program committee, where he is responsible for planning Bio 2008. The annual convention is returning to San Diego for the first time since 2002 and is expected to draw 25,000 people. In 2006, BIOCOM presented Ferruolo with the William W. Otterson Service Award for outstanding support of the life sciences industry in San Diego.
Ferruolo's legal practice began in 1990 after spending nine years as an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, where he earned his law degree. Ferruolo said he was inspired to focus on the life sciences after working with Heller Ehrman shareholder Julian Stern, who represented Dr. Alejandro Zaffaroni, a pioneer in the life sciences industry.
Ferruolo, who was named a 2007 Top Attorney by The Daily Transcript, specializes in public and private financings, acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships and technology licenses for life sciences companies. He was previously co-chair of the corporate/venture law practice group and a member of the intellectual property transactions group at Heller Ehrman.
At Goodwin Procter, Ferruolo chairs the San Diego office and is a member of the tech companies and life sciences, and the mergers and acquisitions/corporate governance practice groups. His San Diego clients include TargeGen, which closed a $40 million round of investor financing last July; Ambit Biosciences, which just completed a $49.3 million round of financing in November; and Excaliard Pharmaceuticals.
Ferruolo also serves on the board of the San Diego Opera.
Hockmuth is a San Diego-based freelance writer.