Tag Archives: Winston-Salem

Targacept’s pioneering target proves too elusive

I had the good fortune of covering Targacept, a pioneering drug-discovery company that spun out of R&D at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., since its founding in 2000. Don deBethizy, the first CEO, placed a good bit of trust in me as a journalist with the Business Journal and allowed me extraordinary access to his strategic thinking and his top scientists.

Targacept promised to revolutionize the treatment of mankind’s most vexing neurological disorders by harnessing the most advantageous properties of nicotine. It was an audacious plan that attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment of venture capitalists, public markets and individual investors. It was also, after 15 years, more than 20 drug trials and $300 million spent, a complete and utter failure.

My February 2015 column in the Triad Business Journal is an obituary of sorts for the company and the pharmacological concept that eluded it. At this link, you will find a Q&A I conducted with Targacept’s second and final CEO, Stephen Hill. Finally, here is a link to my WFDD radio report on the failure of Targacept.

Triad Next: Room for Collaboration

What a collaborative workspace looks like.

What a collaborative workspace looks like.

My second column in the Triad Business Journal, published Sept. 26, takes a look at the trend toward collaborative workspaces in the Triad, with a focus on Flywheel, which opened recently in the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem.  I posted my column here on Medium.com while it’s behind the TBJ paywall for a month.

Excerpt: “According to a recent Gallup survey, about one-third of the U.S. employees operate outside the traditional confines of office towers, cubicles or factories. In other words, one in three American workers don’t have a traditional place to work.”

Triad Next: Triad builds framework that suits creative class

Joey Adams, 33, a Greensboro software developer, is co-founder of The Forge, a makerspace in downtown Greensboro.

Joey Adams, 33, a Greensboro software developer, is co-founder of The Forge, a makerspace in downtown Greensboro.

When I was executive editor of the Triad Business Journal from 1998 to 2011, I wrote a weekly front-page column titled Triad Talk. After a three-year hiatus, Editor Mark Sutter agreed to my idea to return as a monthly columnist with a new name, Triad Next. The first column on the Triad’s growing support for young, creative professionals ran on Aug. 29, 2014. It’s behind a paywall for 30 days. But you can see it on Medium.com before then.

Excerpt:  Take downtown apartments and ballparks, coffee shops, microbreweries, art hops,food trucks, live theater and bike paths. Add in idea slams, accelerator labs, collaborative office space, entrepreneurial meetups and business incubators. That’s when the perception shifts. That’s when you hear something like this: “I see no reason why I can’t build my company here,” says Chris Padgett, 26, founder of Fusion 3 Design, a 6-month-old 3D-printer manufacturer in east Greensboro. “It’s places like this that make me optimistic.”

Photo by Justin Catanoso