IO International Convention organizers are hoping for the usual surge in attendance provided by the Boston biotech community at the event scheduled for June 18-21 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. While it may not reach the 22,000 level achieved at the last Boston BIO in 2007, it should surpass the 15,600 who came to last year's event in Washington, D.C. Exhibitors will occupy more than 215,000 sq. ft of exhibit space.
Attendance for the event has been off its historic highs since the Atlanta event in 2009 which drew about 14,000. Organizers attribute the drop that year to the H1N1 influenza epidemic which surfaced a few weeks before the convention and to the economic downturn. Attendance has been slowly recovering since 2009.
"We probably get 25 percent of our attendance from the host region," says Robbi Lycett, vice president, conventions and conferences for host Biotechnology Industry Organization. "Boston is a strong biotech hub and there are a lot of member companies and a lot of biotech jobs. We've had some growth in companies and exhibit space. Boston is a good draw and we are seeing some recovery in the economy."
The BIO International Conventions are contracted out through 2018, rotating between Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and Boston. Space is also being held beyond 2018.
"There are a couple of other cities that eventually will be in the rotation, but we can't say who they are yet," Lycett says.
As the industry prepares to convene in Boston, BIO officials say that although 2012 has started out strong, the industry still faces its fair share of regulatory hurdles and long approval timelines, and small emerging biotechnology companies continue to face daunting challenges in securing capital. Several policy proposals intend to alleviate these and other challenges facing the industry.
Lycett says the convention's keynote events are especially strong this year.
Former Secretaries of the Treasury will share their thoughts on the state of the global economy during a keynote luncheon panel, titled "State of the Global Economy: A Conversation with Former Secretaries of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin and Henry M. Paulson, Jr.." Moderated by BIO's President & CEO Jim Greenwood, the panel will discuss global economic challenges and the need to balance austerity and growth, and how these challenges and public policy reactions will affect biotechnology innovation and investment in the years ahead.
Immediately preceding the keynote panel, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will address the major challenges to the life sciences innovation ecosystem.
Lycett says the convention's Super Sessions figure to be a big draw. They include:
Beyond Borders: Ernst & Young's Annual Biotechnology Industry Report. Ernst & Young will host a session that explores industry trends and themes, including: changing incentives; the ever- increasing volume of industry data; patient-centric R&D and exploring new ways to increase efficiency and improve results in resource-constrained times. The presentation will also summarize the sector's performance using key metrics -- financial performance, financing, deals and pipeline productivity.
An always-popular session is the Burrill State-of-the-Industry Report. This presentation will discuss themes from the new annual report, Biotech 2012: Innovating in the New Austerity. Learn what innovation looks like in 2012, the role it will play in addressing global problems, and how companies will fund it going forward.
Scientific American's Regional Bio-Innovation Scorecard will examine the BRICs of the future, emerging markets and the future of innovation and key drivers for growth of the global biotechnology industry. The session will include global biotechnology leaders sharing their perspectives on how countries and regions can invest, invent and innovate to dominate the future of the sector.