International Event Recap: BIO 2015 in Philadelphia

By Dr Kristophe Diaz, Big3Bio East Coast Consultant

This year’s BIO Convention was held in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the 150,000 square feet of convention space gave 1,800 exhibitors a chance to showcase their technologies, capabilities, and, for many countries and 47 states and regions, an opportunity to share a snapshot of their best assets.

It was an international showcase, and, as expected, many biotech and professional organizations from the “Big 3” were represented. For example, MassBio had a booth with many events, announcements, and discussions under the Massachusetts Pavilion (“Lifecycle Massachusetts”), along with many other companies and organizations. For details on the MassBio program and BIO 2015, click here.

Program Highlights

The key notes: journalist icon Tom Brokaw; Scripps Translational Science Institute director and author of “The Patient Will See You Now”, Dr. Eric Topol; and Wynton Marsalis, jazz musician, composer and band leader. (That last keynote was very original; Marsalis underlined the similarities between his music, jazz, and the challenges of biotech entrepreneurship. In both worlds, the successful implementation of new and game changing ideas is the most difficult achievement.)

The track on value and patient access underlined, in my opinion, the leading theme of this year convention. Patient-centricity and the importance of including patient advocacy in many of the drug development, regulation and commercialization processes are a necessity for the future success of life sciences.

Many conversations focused on patient access to care and how to better understand and integrate patient voices. As an example, the panel titled: “Putting Patients in the Center: Advancing the Science of Patient Preference Assessment” brought decision makers from the regulatory, patient advocacy and industry sector around the table including Marc Boutin, CEO of National Health Council, Theresa Mullin, director office of strategy program, CDER, FDA, and Paul Hastings, chairman and CEO of OncoMed. The panel was moderated by Kimberly McCleary, Director of Strategic Initiatives at FasterCures.

“Companies, regulators, and payors have demonstrated a true desire to hear from patients,” said Amy O’Connor of Lilly, “but collecting and interpreting that data in a systematic way still remains a challenge.” This challenge is encouraging new business models, new voices and new opportunities.

Other sessions focused on successful stories. In a panel titled, “How to Grow a Sustainable Biotech Company? Three Success Stories,” Katrine Bosley, CEO of Editas Medicine, introduced panelists from three biotech firms: Arndt Schottelius, CDO of MorphoSys;  Loredana Ablondi, licensing manager of Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA (Cheisi); and Andre Hoekema, senior vice president of corporate development at Galapagos NV.

All-in-all, per BIO’s press release, BIO2015 set a new record hosting 29,279 partnering meetings between leaders of 3100 companies.

“This year’s BIO International Convention was a tremendous success, bringing to Philadelphia leaders in industry, government and academia from across the globe to pursue biotechnology’s potential to solve some of society’s most pressing problems,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood.  “From our outstanding keynote speakers, to the record number of partnering meetings, the 2015 Convention was a resounding success.  This event continues to provide biotech leaders with the opportunity to showcase the best of our industry and form connections and partnerships that will drive growth in the sector for years to come.”

Looking Ahead

At Big3Bio, we are looking forward to the upcoming conferences. For the next three years, they will be located in the “Big 3” regions: 2016 in San Francisco, 2017 in San Diego, and 2018 in Boston.

For more information on panels, presenters and conference outcomes, click here.