2008 BIO comes to a close

Well, as the BIO 2008 International Convention draws to a close we can say that this has been one of the best shows ever. We ended up with 20,108 industry leaders from 70 different countries and 48 states.

The full Convention program included four full days with 175 breakout sessions, 21 educational tracks, more than 1,000 speakers, three keynote sessions, six Super Sessions and three CEO Forum sessions.

And that wasn’t all, more than 6,000 business leaders met at the convention and participated in the Business Forum. More than 14,500 one-on-one partnering meetings were held – a new record – and a total of 1,500 companies participated in the Business Forum.

Then, as you read here on Bio On The Road, The all-star keynote line up included Gen. Colin L. Powell, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), and J. Craig Venter, PhD. In addition, Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA); Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) discussed healthcare in an election year with moderator Neil Cavuto, Anchor & Managing Editor of Fox News Channel.

In addition, many high-profile VIPs attended the Convention with 10 governors and numerous international public officials, including The Hon. Lino Baranao, Minister of Science, Technology & Production Innovation, Argentina; Sen The Hon. Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, Australia; The Honourable Dr. Ewa Bjorling, Minister for Trade, Sweden, among many others.

The convention featured the largest gathering of biotech exhibitors in history, with more than 2,100 companies, 126 of which were new, and more than 208,000 sq. feet of exhibition space, the largest ever at the convention. The exhibition included more than 60 domestic, country and regional pavilions representing every aspect of the biotechnology industry.

For more information, you can read the full press release here.

To summarize, we hope you had a great time, learned a lot, and found it to be a productive environment. And most important of all, we hope to see you in Atlanta in 2009.

All the best, The BIO Team.



Biotech Meet the Blogosphere

I’m sitting here in the Biotech and the Blogosphere breakout session at BIO 1008 in San Diego. It is the most sparsely attended session I’ve been to so far with only about 50 people in the room. 50 people who have admittedly made a point of being here to learn something, but given the overwhelming influence of blogs today I did hope there would be more.

But honestly I didn’t expect many more. My experience with science and open forums, blogs etc. on the web is that the chemistry still isn’t working. There APPEARS to be (no science to this opinion folks ) 2 reasons: 

  1.  They still subscribe to a school of thought that the message can be controlled
  2.  They want to ‘fly under the radar’ and don’t want controversy.

 Well consider this as a wake-up call:

  1. You never really could control the message completely and
  2. You fly under the radar when you either have done or are about to do something wrong.

Meanwhile by not participating in the discussion it carries on without you. For instance if you feel that by talking about GMO you’ll be inviting criticism, you may in fact be right at times. When the critics come at you however, at least you should already have established a line of communication to talk with them. If you don’t engage guess what – the critics will simply chatter among themselves about you. They will choose to do it as long and as loud and as hard as they darn well please and they are under no obligation to be fair or even accurate.

The first speaker in the session was Bo Piela from Genzyme. He looks on their social media efforts and their blog as the company “bringing people around the metaphorical table to talk”. It was a good way to put it because in good times and in bad, a lot can happen when people sit down to talk. Even though he didn’t use the same term, Michael Partridge from Vertexreally was saying the same thing when he described their CEO blog for employees. Employees everywhere want to know more about their company, want to know what direction their industry may be going, and maybe ask a few pointed questions. A CEO blog like the one Michael Parridge described therefore becomes a great internal communications tool. It is written entirely by the CEO and isn’t vetted by HR or the lawyers. A scarey thought perhaps, but HR research usually points to open communications as a factor in a winning company and an internal CEO blog is really just a tool to that end. It is that chance to sit around the table. There are always things to be wary of and Marc Monseau of Johnson and Johnson had a couple of thoughts that my experience would say should be at the top of the list if your company is considering a blog.

  •  Be prepared for a lack of control.
  •  Be prepared for criticism.

Once you’ve thought it through, laid the ground rules, and braced yourself for a big corporate change I agree with the final thoughts from all the panelists. Just do it.

Raising PKU awareness

Following Wednesday’s Keynote Luncheon, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California met with John Adams Jr., a Phenylketonuria (PKU) patient who was diagnosed with the disease as a newborn.

PKU is an inherited metabolic disorder that causes problems with brain development, leading to progressive mental retardation and seizures.

Adam’s father currently serves as the President & CEO of the Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders (CanPKU), a non-profit organization dedicated to help provide peer-to-peer family support, information sharing, research support, public education, and advocacy.

Mr. Adams also volunteers as Treasurer of the Canadian Organization of Rare Disorders.

Colorado Puts Money Into Biosciences

Joining Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle in announcing initiatives for biosciences and stem cell research, a Colorada Governor Bill Ritter gave a talk today on Colorado’s growing biotech and bioscience economic sector, representing over 400 bioscience companies in the state.

Gov. Ritter just signed a bill putting $26.5 million investment in the industry through the new Colorado Bioscience Discoveries Grant Program.  Gov. Ritter noted that private research is increasing and that venture capital funding is improving.

When asked about the outlook for bioscience research funding, Gov. Ritter said that the change in administration will most certainly bring a change in the mindset within the government.  He felt both candidates would support increased research and noted that Sen. Barack Obama has a belief in biotech as a 21st century economy. 

The Governor said that there will not only be additional research funding with a change in the administration but that he also foresees a different mindset at the FDA, which will lead to increased efficiencies in the drug approval process.

Concerned About the Food Crisis?

Are you concerned about the growing food crisis?  Well don’t miss A Safe and Sustainable Food Supply: The Fight to Use Modern Biotechnology, 6/18/2008 10:15 AM – 11:45 AM at the San Diego Convention Center.

And, just to get your juices flowing on the subject, drop into Biotech-Now, the voice of BIO, and listen to Biotechnology Can Help Solve the Food Crisis.