10 Apr Let the olympics of biotechnology in the Midwest begin!
BIO 2006 Chicago is finally upon us as I write these words! This year’s theme, “It’s all here”, reflects the broad diversity of biotechnology found in the Midwest from medical devices to diagnostics to drugs to agriculture to biofuels to environment to other applications.
Although all kinds of records are being broken in terms of number of exhibitors, revenue, etc., word is still out on the final attendance number, but the pre-registration number floating around was over 17,000, and it was expected that there would be another 2,000 people registering as “walk-ins”. The key question is whether Chicago (and the Midwest) will break the 20,000 attendee barrier for the first time!
So just for the record, what were last year’s key statistics that the Midwest needs to best?
BIO 2005 – Philadelphia had the following (according to www.bio.org):
1. Total attendance: 18,679 (vs. 17,015 in San Francisco in 2004, or a 10 % increase over San Francisco. If Chicago were to maintain this kind of increase, there would 20,547 attendees. (Note that San Francisco only had a 4% increase over Washington, D.C. in 2003). It’s doubtful that we will really know this tally before Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, but there might be some preliminary numbers released!
2. International Attendees: More than 6,000 attended in 2005.
3. Countries in Attendance: 60
4. States in Attendance: 48
5. Governors in Attendance: 12
6. Exhibiting Companies: 1, 525 last year (word is that there are more than 1,600 at BIO 2006)
7. Exhibition Space: 151,000 square feet net exhibition space last year (315,000 gross square feet)
There are many more parameters including the $$$ ones, but let’s keep our eye on the above ball this week.
To the detriment of Chicago and the Midwest, BIO 2006 is only being held 10 months after the last one and in a blustery cold April (not Chicago at its best).
Still, it appears that the pre-BIO 2006 events that have already taken place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday indicate exuberance and robust attendance. There are already seem to be large contingents from Israel, Hungary, Chile, China, Argentina, India, the Swiss not to mention the traditionally strong presence of Germany, the U.K., Australia, and Japan. And there events galore not only down on the humongous exhibit floor but also in the main meeting and in various parts of Chicago. The blues and rock n’ roll seems to be a strong theme this year fitting Chicago’s role in both musical genres.
A taste of the pre-BIO events this year included:
• America-Israel Business Exchange (AIBEx®) for Life Sciences held on April 6 & 7 at the Illinois Science & Technology Park. This event featured 20 Israeli life science companies, 5 Israeli venture capital firms and the crème-de-la-crème of Midwest large life science companies such as Abbott, Baxter, Hospiral, Takeda, Medtronic, Stryker, Guidant, Cook, and several large Midwest life science VC’s such as Essex Woodlands Healthcare Ventures, Adams St. Capital Partners, William Blair & Co., Illinois Ventures, Meadows Partners (which is assembling its first $25 million fund), L Capital (from NYC), Lurie Investments, and others. The event also featured the Chief Scientist of Israel (now why don’t we have this position in the U.S.?), and ended Saturday night with a reception at the Israeli Consulate General’s residence.
• Association of University Research Park (AURP) Meeting, which held tours of Chicago’s various bio-parks and incubators on Friday and a full-day meeting on Saturday.
• Chief Scientific Officer Bootcamp, held on April 8th and 9th at the Grand Hyatt on Wacker
• Illinois Global Partnership Reception, held Saturday early evening.
I am exhausted already just from the pre-events!!
Surely, the attendance of William Jefferson Clinton on Tuesday at lunch should be an important drawing card (remember that wife and NY junior senator Hillary grew up in Chicago suburb Park Ridge). But just in case that is not enough look for the likes of Chicago’s Mayor Daley and Illinois Governor Blagojevich, Magic Johnson, Bernie Mac, and of course Chicago’s own Big Pharma contingent – Miles White, CEO of Abbott Labs, and Bob Parkinson, CEO of Baxter International.
So at the cusp of this big event that has been in the making for so many years, it is finally upon us, and the Midwest did indeed pull together. At the Public Officials’ reception last night (Sunday), I ran into BIO’s Patrick Kelly, V.P. of State Government Relations, and reminded him how we had gotten together about 6-7 years ago all of the Midwest biotech associations at O’Hare airport for the first real face-to-face meeting and put in a group conference call to him.
Patrick, at that time, didn’t think it could be done (assembling all of the Midwest’s 8 biotech associations), and did we prove him wrong! That call led to the formation of the BIO Mid-America Investor Conference a few short years later, which later this year will be held in Cleveland and is going on its 4th year (year one was in Chicago, year two in St. Louis, year three in Minneapolis). This successful event helped change the BIO organization’s perception about Midwest life science industry and, voila – here we are!!
So if we surpass all of the above numbers does that mean this event has been a success? Well, there are a couple of other key metrics that also need to be met:
• BIO-buzz!!! This means the feeling of satisfaction on what is going down on the exhibit and convention floor!
• Deals!!! Hopefully this event generates scores of international deals for Midwest companies!
• Recognition by politicians! Judging by a number of them that I met at the Public Officials Reception last night that recognition is being achieved!
• Catharsis and Catalysis! This kind of event usually generates a lot of strong bonds in the community as many have been pulling together for a long time to bring off the event. The dividends from such action usually are seen in the months and years AFTER BIO.
• Repeat of Event in Chicago! This is the ultimate test of the meeting from BIO’s point-of-view, as they will have deemed the city/region appropriate enough to bring it back again. This is no easy task! BIO goes back to Boston next year after a 7 year hiatus (2000). After that it goes to San Diego in 2008 – also a 7 year hiatus (2001), and in 2009 it will go to Atlanta for the first time. Rumors are that New York is scheduled to be the site for 2010, so we will be lucky if we can get in line for at 2012 or 2013. By then, this event will be so big that only places like Chicago can hold it (30,000+ people or more).
So, as they say, let the games begin!
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