• WisBusiness

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

 9:56 AM 

BIO convention is 'virtual office' for many firms

By Tom Still

BOSTON -- So, how much business really takes place at conventions such as the massive BIO '07 meeting in Boston? Aren't these things just a series of parties and gab-fests?

Don't try telling that to Michael Zwick, vice president of business development for Madison-based Neoclone. The annual BIO convention is integral to how the company does business -- with both existing clients and potential customers.

Neoclone produces monoclonal antibodies used in research settings, diagnostics and biotechnology. It has handled about 200 projects for customers worldwide since 1999, and the global nature of the biotech industry means many clients are far removed from Wisconsin.

A prime example is Proteome Systems in Australia, which has been involved in 33 projects with Neoclone over time. Zwick said both firms use the annual BIO convention as a meeting place to discuss their work, which currently revolves around production of biological reagents for testing rapid, non-invasive tuberculosis tests used in developing nations.

While there are shipments of materials between Australia and Madison on a regular basis, Zwick explained, Neoclone executives have yet to visit "down under" and Proteome execs have yet to come to Wisconsin. But that doesn't mean they don't find other ways to meet -- and the annual BIO convention is a natural convener.

"It's neat to think they would work with us," Zwick said. "Obviously, they could choose someone a lot closer."

Zwick said Neoclone also uses BIO's "Partnering Forum" to meet with companies that may have an interest in their work. He described it as a "speed dating" system that often leads to surprising contacts. This year, for example, industry giant Genzyme sought out a meeting with Neoclone.

"We have no free time here except for evenings," said Zwick, who was joined in Boston by CEO Deven McGlenn. "If nothing else, this is a great way to meet with existing clients -- and a valuable forum to meet potential new customers."




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