• WisBusiness

Monday, April 10, 2006

 12:03 PM 

Badger State Pavilion Draws Visitors

What is 16-feet-tall at its highest point, covers 1,600 square feet, has lots of red and - for the next few days - is the hub of anything and everything that deals with the life sciences in Wisconsin?

It's the Badger State pavilion at BIO 2006 in Chicago and is the site where Gov. Jim Doyle will speak this afternoon to tell the world why life biotech companies should locate in Wisconsin.

The theme for the state's pavilion, appropriately, is "It's All Here." Wisconsin is spending more than $270,000 on this year's effort, a multi-fold increase over last year.

Though there are taller pavilions - some companies have two floors - the 16-foot-tall UW-Madison post stands out from pavilions that surround it. It is also on one of the main thoroughfares, which should help attract visitors.

In addition to talking business and listening to scientists speak at a small theater in the pavilion, people were lifting an ultralight Trek Madrone bicycle this morning that will be given away at the conference.

Directly across the isle from the Wisconsin pavilion is the more modest 600-square-foot Nebraska pavilion, which was drawing gawkers by the score to talk to a robot named "Sprockit" that has more than a little artificial ingtelligence.

The robot can engage in better conversation than most teenagers and speak a variety of languages. It also boasts about Nebraska's biotech industry, of course.

A stone's throw away is the sizable German pavilion that covers 5,500 square feet. The Germans, pavilion officials said, are spending $1 million to tell their life science story at the conference.

California, surprisingly, only has a 2,000-square-foot presence and is spending but $100,000 this year at BIO 2006.

But at Pennsylvania, which hosted the last BIO conference, the pavilion was 4,000 square feet and featured, of all things, a Harley Davidson Sportster that will be given away tomorrow night.

Why a Wisconsin-made Harley? Actually, noted a Pennsylvania official, Harley has been making motorcycles in York, Pa. for decades. So there.

Arguably the largest pavilion on the convention floor is operated by Illinois, the host state.

It covers 6,400 square feet. A spokesman for the Illinois delegation said his state paid $1 million alone to bring BIO 2006 to Chicago and another $500,000 for the pavilion, receptions and other activities.

Elsewhere among Midwestern states, Iowa has a 2,200-square-foot pavilion. An official said the Hawkeye State is spending about $230,000 on BIO 2006 - including $180,000 for the closing reception.

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