Greenhouse Program Growing Successful Executives

By Stouffer, Rick | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 17, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Greenhouse Program Growing Successful Executives

Stouffer, Rick, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Wanted: Senior-level executives with five to 10 years of experience starting and operating life sciences companies. Willingness to share their experience and expertise.

Will be plugged into a dozen or more early-stage and startup firms in Western Pennsylvania, each needing a level of management skill they can't afford, but desperately need to grow. Must be a communicator, able to get the men and women under mentorship to buy into their message. Bring list of contacts.

Apply John Manzetti, CEO, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

Manzetti admits he's happy when top executives he recruits to the Greenhouse's Executive in Residence program resign. He wants the executives to find employment elsewhere and, in most cases, with a company the executive worked with while a member of the program.

"At any one time, I'll have 100 resumes from men and women wanting to be part of our program," said Manzetti, himself a former participant.

Founded in 2002 to provide leadership at small companies, the program in the last seven years has grown in size and reputation. Today, the Greenhouse welcomes organizations from across the country and even international visitors, who come to its base at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland to see first-hand how the program operates.

Since its inception, the Greenhouse's Executive in Residence program has assisted nearly 300 companies that have created about 1,200 jobs, officials said. The executive's services are provided free of charge.

The concept was part of the Greenhouse's development plan in 2001, modeled after a process many venture capital firms use, enlisting experts to advise them on where to invest, Manzetti said. The program consumes about 50 percent of the Greenhouse budget, or about $4 million a year. Funding for the organization is a mix of state and foundation funds, plus a growing component that comes from return on investment on companies the Greenhouse helps to fund.

The Greenhouse nurtures small companies by providing executive talent, but also invests in companies, with $15 million placed into 60 companies to help leverage about $500 million in additional capital.

Executives on the payroll are expected to identify, evaluate and assist early-stage companies in one of five life-sciences market segments: medical devices, biotechnology tools, therapeutics, diagnostics and health care information technology. Life sciences is the manufactured products side of health care.

Executives are paid between $140,000 and $220,000 annually, but Greenhouse officials say money isn't why they come to Pittsburgh, and that many actually take a pay cut for the prospect of picking where they will work next.

The executive helps companies with management issues, to access capital, develop marketing strategies, evaluate technology, provide guidance on regulatory issues, access research, develop talent and intellectual property, and assist with planning and developing product prototypes.

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