12 Feb Get set because here come two Olympics, athletics and biotech
The 29th Olympiad, Summer Games version, will be celebrated in Beijing, China from Aug. 8-24 this year. This event represents the longest running athletics competition in history.
Although Beijing is the center for this event, a number of Olympic events will also be run in other Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Quingdao, Tianjin, Shenyang, and Qinhuangdao. It is expected that some 1.85 million tickets will be sold. As everyone may remember, Chicago is one of the candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics.
In contrast, the 16th Olympics of Biotechnology (having started first in 1993), otherwise known as the BIO International Convention will be held in San Diego from June 17-20.
The annual BIO International Convention was held in San Diego the last time in 2001. Some of the key stats from the last time indicate industry progress:
BIO International Convention – Key Statistics
|Key Parameters of Growth||2001 – San Diego||2007 Boston||2008 – San Diego (expected)|
|Number of Countries||50||68||70|
|Number of States||40||48||48|
|Exhibit Floor Space (sf)||81,700||203,300||220,000|
Considering that the first BIO International Convention, held in 1993 at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, drew only 1,400 attendees, this event has really grown. The 2001 event, nine years later, in San Diego, drew 10 fold this number.
After 2008, the Convention moves to Atlanta for the first time in 2009, and then back to Chicago in 2010 for the second time. And IBIO (www.ibio.org) and other Midwest biotech state associations are beginning to get ready for the 2010 event back in the Midwest.
The athletic Olympiad takes place in one country and several cities during one period of about 3 weeks. The biotech version actually takes in the U.S. but has international regional meetings taking place during the year, such as BIO-Europe and BIO-Asia. Likewise, the various states with active biotech associations will also hold their annual conferences in each state throughout the year.
One of these events, held in Illinois, called the IBIO (Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization) IndEx, short for Industry Exposition, is the successor event to a long-running event called IBIO Marketplace. This event, which itself was the successor event to IBIO’s predecessor organization, called the Chicago Biotechnology Network (CBN) Association, started about 1996. The first CBN BioMarketplace started in 1997, meaning that Illinois has been holding an annual biotech event for the last 11 years.
The latest IBIO IndEx will take place on Feb. 20 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. Some interesting new trends are being represented by the choice of keynote speakers, one of which is the president/CEO of Astellas Pharma U.S., Yoshihiko Hatanaka. Astellas is the second largest Japanese Pharma company and within the top 20 pharma companies in the world. This company, together with Takeda – the largest Japanese Pharma company, also with a U.S. headquarters in Chicago, comprises a growing Japanese life science presence in Illinois and the Midwest, which I have written about before, including such companies as Asahi Kasei Medical, Omron, Sunstar, and Valent Biosciences (Sumitomo).
Other keynote speakers include Dr. B. Joseph White, president of the University of Illinois, and Dr. Paul Willems, technology vice president, energy biosciences, the BP group. These two indicate two other key trends:
1) The increasing role of our academic research institutions in our state biotech organizations.
2) The increasing importance of alternative fuels.
These are themes that resonate throughout the Midwest.
While Illinois’s annual event will not have the kind of international presence seen at the BIO convention in San Diego, it will feature a Japanese presence, as well as the Canadians, the Scottish (the Scottish Development Agency), and most likely the British and Swiss.
Chicago’s Big Pharma giants will also be in attendance including Abbott, Baxter, Hospira, Takeda, Astellas, TAP Pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the Ag sector will be well represented with Monsanto, Tate & Lyle (a newcomer to IBIO’s ranks), and Valent Bioscience.
The presence of the University of Illinois’ president at this year’s event harkens back to the first CBN BioMarketplace which was held on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago back in 1997. The attendance of about 150 people back then was encouraging at that time. IBIO IndEx this year should see over 400 attendees.
In reality, this annual get-together, and its counterpart activity in other Midwestern states, is our Midwest way of getting ready for the big event to take place in 2010 in Chicago.
Strength in region
What all of the Midwest should be focusing on is: how it has progressed its regional biotech industry versus other parts of the U.S. and the world. Note that this definition of biotechnology in the Midwest does not necessarily mean drug-centric biotech, but other applications to such diverse areas such as medical devices, diagnostics, biofuels, “clean-tech,” ag biotech, and other industrial applications.
It is not coincidental that the 5th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and BioProcessing is being held in Chicago on April 27-30. This event should be an eye-opener in terms of the wide range of impact that biotechnology is having on society in general. It also plays a lot better here in the Midwest than in previous sites such as Orlando given the importance of agriculture, alternative fuels, and traditional manufacturing industries.
Getting back to the topic of showcasing the progress of our regional Midwest biotech industry by 2010, we will need to show specific improvement in a number of areas:
• Greater numbers of start-up companies and funding of these companies.
• Greater numbers of Midwest venture capital groups and angel groups.
• More international companies setting up shop in the Midwest.
• Greater recognition by our state governments (and governors) of the importance of the industry to future job growth by creating incentives to attract companies to set up shop here (whether they be local university spin-outs, companies located in other states, or foreign companies).
We are making headway with some of the above via recent acquisitions by foreign life science companies of Midwest life science companies:
• Japanese Pharma giant Eisai acquisition of Minnesota-based MGI Pharma.
• Indian Pharma Wockhardt acquisition of Illinois-based Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals.
• Chinese CMO (contract manufacturing organization) WuXi PharmaTech acquisition of Minnesota-based AppTec Laboratory Services.
While these acquisitions may be of concern, they really represent ways for these foreign companies to accelerate their U.S. entry strategy and most likely will keep the management teams and infrastructure in place.
My biggest concern is in the fourth bullet point above: Midwestern states’ incentives for the biotech industry.
If we are really going to be major players on a world scale in an industry that is quickly globalizing, our Midwestern states must make a rapid, concerted effort to attract foreign companies and grow our fledgling start-ups, as well as attract companies in other states to set up shop.
It is more than just saying: “We are open for business.” It is about proactively reaching out to these companies to say, “We want your business and here is what we are willing to do.” Such state incentives will also have an impact on the formation of Midwest VC groups and angel groups. Wisconsin has been a leader in this area and we would be well-served to look closely at this state’s legislation and model.
I realize that that the words rapid and concerted don’t go hand-in hand with state governments, but that is the role of our Midwest biotech organizations to aggressively push this agenda forward.
Hope to see you soon at one or more of the upcoming biotech events!
Previous articles by Michael Rosen
• Michael Rosen: 2007: M&As and IPOs continue in the Midwest life science sector
• Michael Rosen: U.S. can learn from growth of biofuels in Latin America
• Michael Rosen: 2007: The best and worst of times for Big Pharma
• Michael Rosen: Combination therapy: Back to future or wave of future?
• Michael Rosen: Angel investing slows during first half of 2007
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission. The article is not meant to be a stock recommendation.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.
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