BIO Preview: Some of the Highlights of One of the World’s Premier Life Science Conventions


The BIO International Convention is being held in Philadelphia from June 3-6, with more than 16,000 attendees expected from around the world. The convention draws a list of who’s who in drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy, with more than 7,000 companies and 47,000 partnering meetings.

Here's a preview of just a handful of opportunities, companies and speakers and what they’re presenting.

In the two days leading up to the conference, there are a number of opportunities, including two day-long Business Development Courses. The BIO Executive Training Programs will be taught by experienced business development professionals from leading biopharma companies, experts in law, public relations and academia. All have deep experience with deals and licensing in the industry.

There is also an Entrepreneurship Boot Camp from June 2-3, which is an intensive, two-day program that takes participants through the steps needed to form a company.

One of the first events, on June 3, is the AURP Bio Health Caucus. This caucus will includes speakers such as Rich Bendis, founder, president and chief executive officer of BioHealth Innovation, Christian Bramer, founder and chief executive officer of Benefunder, Demian Costa, partner with Weller Development Company, Brian Darmody, chief executive officer of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), and Katherine Merton, Head of JLABS @NYC, Boston & JPOD @ Philadelphia, and many others.

GeoVax Labs, a biotechnology company based in Atlanta, plans to conduct partnering meetings during BIO. The company was chosen by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and BIO to exhibit and showcase its technology in the Innovation Zone, which is a part of the exhibition floor dedicated to recipients of NIH SBIR/STTR grants. Senior management will engage in one-on-one meetings with business development representatives as well as investors, with plans to discuss its novel MVA-VLP vaccine platform.

Twelve SBIR companies were chosen to present at BIO, with 80 on the Innovation Zone. Another example is Spheryx. Laura Philips, president and chief executive officer of Spheryx will present on Wednesday, June 5 at 11;45 am. Spheryx is a medical device company that offers Total Holographic Characterization, which allows for precise, reliable and accurate measurements and analysis of particulate suspensions.

There will be a Fireside Chat on June 3 from 2:30 PM to 3:45 PM with Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg, Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine and Chairman of the Board, American Association for the Advancement of Science. The chat will be moderated by Katrine Bosley, Chair of BIO’s Emerging Companies Section, who was most recently chief executive officer of Editas Medicine.

ZyVersa Therapeutics, based in Weston, Fla., is hosting and participating in one-on-one meetings throughout the conference. ZyVersa is a clinical-stage biopharma company focusing on inflammatory or renal diseases. Its clinical pipeline includes a Phase IIa-ready asset, VAR 200, a cholesterol efflux mediator to treat focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and an inflammasome inhibitor for multiple inflammatory diseases.

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BIO features a laundry list of speakers. Just a few examples include Shruti Abbato, vice president of Business Development at Celdara Medical, who will make a company presentation; Rebecca Abbott, director of Public Policy for the March of Dimes, who presents, “Orphan and Rare Diseases, New Hope, Big Challenges: Newborn Screening in the Genetic Era”; Cyrus Agarabi, Principal Investigator/Research/Review Officer/CDR at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), presenting, “Regulatory Interactions and Opportunities at the Forefront of Innovative Manufacturing”; Roy Baynes, senior vice president, Global Clinical Development and chief medical officer at Merck Research Laboratories will present, “What Was Hot at ASCO 2019? Highlights from the World’s Biggest Oncology Meeting”; Jie Zhang, Head of Global Value and Access at Novartis will present, “Innovative Contracting in Cell and Gene Therapies in Europe”; and Fangfang Zhu, vice president at WI Harper Group will present, “China Summit Segment II: Cross-Border Outlook—Access to Capital and Partnering Strategies for the China Market.”

And those are just a tiny example of the hundreds of speakers and presenters at BIO.

Of course, the biggest names in the biopharma business will be represented with booths at the company and/or who are sponsors of the meeting. Double Helix Sponsors include Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. Helix Sponsors include AbbVie, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Although the list of examples goes on and on, one area of note is that a year ago, the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX) began to allow pre-venue biotech companies to list. Prior to that, a company needed a product on the market, which tended to make these companies choose the Nasdaq first. Michael Chan, senior vice president of HKEX played a major role in biotech being chosen as the initial focus for widening market access for these early-stage biotech companies. Chan will be presenting in BIO’s China Summit and Hong Kong Roundtable, presenting a look back on the impact of the HKEX listing rule.

Stay tuned!

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