July 11th, 2011
Each year, thousands of bioscience industry representatives attend the Biotechnology Industry Organization Annual Convention looking for opportunities to network and learn about the latest trends. In my case, the convention served as inspiration. As BIO 2011 wrapped up and I said good-bye to Washington, DC, I took a few moments to reflect on the opportunities that spur from this kind of international event and its impact on an emerging bioscience market like New Orleans. First off, attending the convention this is an exciting and quickly evolving industry and we must make smart decisions to be competitive. Positioning New Orleans as a successful cluster is complicated by our location and lack of natural resources. This is an industry where only the strong, smart and committed survive.
Within the span of a few days, I was able to meet with prospects, clients, colleagues and new contacts from states such as Texas, Delaware, Michigan, California, Illinois, New York, Missouri and Massachusetts. The large exhibit hall was the perfect venue for showcasing and networking with international visitors from different regions of the world’s biotech industry. I was able to meet with bioscience professionals from Australia, Brazil, China, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, France and Italy sharing with them ideas and guidance for how to establish a presence in North America and more specifically New Orleans. There is a few mutually beneficial value propositions that we can offer as an emerging life science research cluster. Look for us to enter into a few strategic alliances with some of them in the coming year. Remember, we host the 2011 Association of University Research Parks International Convention here in November.
The BioDistrict also hosted a small gathering of ex-pats interested in New Orleans and looking for opportunities to return home and/or give back to the city. The gathering is becoming one the hottest convention off-site events. Imagine us throwing a cool party that people want to attend!
In addition to the terrific networking opportunities, the sessions offered during BIO proved to be enlightening and informative experience. On Tuesday, for example, there was the much-anticipated panel featuring Dr. Frances Collins from the NIH discussing future funding NIH initiatives and the need for academic, industry and government collaboration. There were other popular sessions focused on personalized medicine – specifically the potential to provide increasingly effective diagnostics and treatments tailored to individual patient groups – which is a MAJOR focus of the BioDistrict.
During the course of the conference, there were a number of breakout sessions where the U.S. healthcare system was the topic of discussion. Noteworthy amongst all, was that we are celebrating the first anniversary and no one has figured out yet the true impact – much less whether it is good or bad. Many presenters believe that the demand caused by the aging population will render cost cuts insufficient to save the system. Thus, they emphasized the importance of industry funded academic innovation to reduce the per capita cost of healthcare. And while we didn’t resolve the problems of the healthcare system over four short days, the buzz around future innovations provided some optimism. The key will be to reduce the timeline and cost of new drug development and livery from the current 15-16 years at a cost exceeding a billions dollars to something more manageable and less risky. Can you see the tie-in to New Orleans?
All in all, this was the most efficient and productive BIO Convention ever for and BioDistrict’s participation was great for New Orleans! Can’t wait for next year.
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