Monday, June 18, 2012
By Mike Flaherty
BOSTON -- The largest convergence of the world's biotechnology business leaders, scientists and government leaders launched at noon today in the cavernous halls of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. And Wisconsin's biotech leaders say they're hoping again this year to draw the world's attention.
"It's the biggest gathering of biotech executives in the world. Just being here is a statement that you're a player in this industry," said Bryan Renk, president of BioForward, an association that represents the state's biotechnology and medical device companies.
And Wisconsin, he said, is a player.
The title of this year's conference is "Healing, Fueling and Feeding the World'' – and Wisconsin is heavily involved in all three areas of biotechnology research, development and commercialization, Renk said.
Wisconsin's official delegation of two dozen leaders is somewhat smaller this year, representative of all participation at the world conference, which is a third smaller than the 22,000 visitors it drew five years ago.
But to expand Wisconsin's presence this year, the Wisconsin pavilion is going high-tech, Renk said.
The pavilion this year features two large, 3-D Cisco Systems "TelePresence'' systems -- tele-conferencing stations so that the leaders of biotech companies who couldn't make it to Boston can still present themselves to the world conference. Some will even hold business partnering meetings with potential investors, partners and research collaborators using the system, Renk said.
The conferencing centers are extremely important this year because, for the first time, official "partnering meetings'' can be held on the convention floor, not just in pre-arranged meeting sessions, Renk noted
"We're going all out to the tell the world what's happening in Wisconsin,'' said Lisa Johnson, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. who is serving as the highest ranking state official at the conference.
"Our theme is 'Wisconsin is Changing the World' and we want to show the world's biotech companies looking to expand or locate new businesses that they should come here as we have the talent, low costs and a high quality of life."
"Some companies already have 40 to 60 meetings already set up for partnership discussions,'' said Kathy Collins, head of business development for BioForward.
"I have five meetings scheduled this morning even before the conference opens,'' said Deven McGlenn, chief executive officer of of NeoClone, in Madison.