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The Biotech Concert Halls of the Decade of 2000

While the great rock concert halls and rock festivals of the 1960s have largely disappeared, the music culture generated by these musical Meccas continues (mostly in the form of “Farewell Tours” in basketball stadiums).

The biotech culture of the wild 1980s and 1990s is celebrated every year in a series of “concert hall” venues by the investment banks that lead the charge in promoting the hot biotech companies of our day. The Woodstock of these meetings is the annual H&Q meeting (now known formally as the J.P. Morgan Chase H&Q Annual Healthcare Conference), which is held every January in San Francisco.

The real action, though, takes place in New York City where 19 of the more than 23 annual health-care investment conferences are held.

H&Q is the granddaddy of them all and usually features on average 260 or more companies to an audience of more than 5,000 public and private equity investors and venture capitalists. If you had to pick one conference to go to, it would be the H&Q conference, which is considered to be the most important investor conference for life science companies to attend.

It is also the litmus test for testing the financial waters of biotech at the beginning of the tear. Other major conferences include:
1. The Piper Jaffrey Healthcare conference, which is held in New York and features some 120 public companies and 50 late-stage private companies. Institutional clients comprised 57 percent of the attendees in 2003.

2. The Deutsche Bank Healthcare Conference, which is held in the spring in Baltimore (one of the few non-New York venues). In 2003, 138 companies were featured to 900 investors.

3. The UBS Warburg Global Life Sciences Conference, which is held in the early fall in New York City and featured 420 companies in 2002 with some 3,000 attendees.

4. The CIBC World Markets Healthcare Conference, which takes place in the late fall also in New York City and usually has between 1,800 and 2,000 attendees and features some 230 companies.

For a more complete list of the major conferences, see below.

In terms of gaining investor exposure, these events are musts not only for publicly traded biotech and medical device companies but also for privately held companies that are looking to tee up an IPO in the near future.

As such, it is important for us in the Midwest to see which of our Midwest companies are speaking at these events as this is an indicator of successful companies. Just to get invited to present at these conferences, by the way, is recognition that the company is exciting and has a good management team.

These investment banking health-care conferences are as important to biotech culture as the old rock concert halls were to emerging rock groups and new sounds and music fusions.

I remember that in going to places like the Fillmore East and other music clubs in New York City, one could discern new music trends as rock groups broke up and reformed with musicians from other well-known bands to have a new sound. So it is with biotech as management teams of successful companies leave and start up new companies and new directions.

Just think of all the biotech companies that Amgen, Genentech, Chiron, Genzyme, Alza, Biogen and other “grandfathers of biotech” have spawned off today. See you next week!

Michael S. Rosen is president and CEO of Barbeau Pharma and a founder and board member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (IBIO). He can be reached at This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters. They can be found at

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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