In an era marked by the lingering effects of the economic recession and major changes to the nation’s health care system, leaders at all ends of the biotechnology industry are seeking new ways to keep pipelines full while keeping costs down.
As more 650 industry representatives from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware gathered in Philadelphia to discuss those issues, it was also a chance for the region’s biotech trade groups to formulate new ways to assist the industry.
The Biotech 2011 conference wrapped up Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Heading into the final afternoon of the two-day conference, which is now in its 11th year, BioNJ President Debbie Hart said she was energized by the conference.
“It’s a vision come true, a dream come true,” she said. “We added a lot of different elements this year.”
Those elements included a new science-focused open forum, as well as a funding roundtable lunch that gave companies seeking funding the opportunity to sit down for speed dating-like sessions with venture capitalists, angel investors and other funders. Among the 40 funders were Pfizer Venture Investments, the Mid-Atlantic Angel Group and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Christopher P. Molineaux, president of Pennsylvania’s biotech trade group, Pennsylvania Bio, said it’s always important to stay nimble as an organization, but he said events like Biotech 2011 are also an important way of keeping industry professionals engaged in the biotech community.
“There are a lot of pharma jobs that have been lost just because of the evolution of the industry,” Molineaux said. “Any creative solution that keeps those folks engaged, gets them employed and keeps them in the region is what we want to accomplish.”
Attendance was down this year from last year’s event, when about 800 people attended the symposium.
“The count is lower, but the energy is higher,” Hart said. “I hope first of all that people are feeling better about the economy and the industry and the opportunity, and I hope secondly that maybe they are excited about the new elements that we added.”