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Conference next week to push business end of biotech

Madison, Wis. — The Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association will take a practical look at tech transfer at its annual conference on October 26. This year’s title is “Business Empowering Science.”

The conference will take place at the Madison Marriot West and is meant to show an expected 400 administrative and biotech representatives how to make a successful company out of a laboratory achievement.

“The goal of the conference is to respond to the company’s request to find out how to do business better,” said Jim Leonhart, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Biotechnology Association. “These are people looking for venture and talent.”

The conference will consist of three tracks, each one offering presentations that focus on the business aspect of creating and nurturing the development of a science-based company. On a financial perspective, there will be sessions discussing how to attract venture capital and angel investors to a start-up, and how to make the best use of the money they provide. To help researchers make sure their inventions remain their own, sessions will also be directed toward technology-specific taxes and patent litigation.

On the managerial front, the conference will look at ways to attract top talent into Wisconsin, as well as using tools in market communication. For future expansion, there will also be tracks examining how to enter the international market in regions such as Asia and Europe.
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“We have lots of great research happening, and now we’re trying to add business to that,” Leonhart said. “They’re going to leave with a whole new set of strategies.”

William Clarke
The highlight of the conference will be a presentation by William Clarke, executive vice president and chief technology and medical officer of Milwaukee-based GE Healthcare. Clarke will speak at the conference luncheon on the topic of personalized medicine, which studies preventing and curing diseases based on an individual’s genetic characteristics.

The major goal of personalized healthcare is to move from a “late disease” model of looking at medicine where the emphasis is on discovery and treatment, to an “early health” system where the disease is addressed at the earliest possible moment. Clarke said that recent advancements in technology have made the individualized approach more feasible, particularly the combination of molecular biology and advanced computer imaging.

“Personalized health care is about moving from today’s paradigm of ‘one size fits all’ healthcare, where for the most part we provide a service to all as though we were all genetically identical,” Clarke said.

According to Clarke, the topic of personalized medicine fits into the conference because in order for it to enter mainstream use it will require the investment of several stakeholders in “a partnership of industry, government, payers and society.” In order for it to enjoy any real form of success, the pace of progress must be regulated so the social issues can be controlled on the same level as technical ones.

Clarke said he was looking forward to the conference and feels his speech will convey a message on GE for all participants.

“At GE Healthcare, we have a great story to tell about how we’re reshaping the medical industry,” Clarke said. “I think this is an opportunity to share the direction of a new GE Healthcare to an audience who understands how the role of technology and bioscience will play a pivotal part in the future of the healthcare industry.”

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Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be contacted at les@wistechnology.com.

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