By: Fatema Fatakdawala
I recently had the opportunity to represent the Altitude Accelerator at the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston Massachusetts. It was definitely the global biotechnology event of the year for me with over 4000 companies and a football stadium-sized exhibitor hall. Upstairs, there were multiple seminars, panel discussions and 15-minute business pitches going on simultaneously. Luckily, I had planned my schedule for the 4 days (June 18-21) ahead of time.
The exhibitor hall was divided into several subsections. About a quarter of the space was allocated to the BIO Business Forum which basically meant hundreds of mini-booths for speed dating between small and large biotech companies for potential mergers, acquisitions and/or collaborations. In terms of key lessons learned from the conference, I have distilled it down into 3 major categories.
1. Technology is pushing cutting edge research – I made some new friends from the academic world who were discussing with me how the advent of technological advancements is changing the face of research. What used to be unimaginable (sequencing the genome of an organism for a simple diagnostic test) is now becoming routine practice.
2. There is an access of available PhD’s and post-docs – This discourages established pharmaceutical and biotech companies from hiring new grads with Bachelors or even Masters degrees for not only their research and development (R&D) departments but other areas as well such as business development or marketing.
3. Drugs going off patent are causing big pharma to be even more open to collaboration – Some of the large corporations such as Merck and Pfizer have drying drug pipelines and increasing loss of patent protection on existing products. This has stimulated several collaborative biotech projects between the big and small fish to bring new products (both drugs and medical devices) to commercialization.
Overall, BIO is an unforgettable annual conference that explores and displays not only existing global players but also emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China among others within this field. Stay tuned for BIO 2013 set to take place on April 22-25th at Chicago, Illinois.
Fatema joins the RIC team as the Communications Officer responsible for marketing, social media, event and web management. She is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
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