Oklahoma plays oversized role at major biotechnology convention
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
The 2016 BIO International Convention set a record for partnering meetings — 35,700 in four intense days. Numerous biotechnology entrepreneurs from Oklahoma were right in the thick of all that business-building activity.
A short refresher on BIO International — it is the global event for biotechnology. BIO 2016, held earlier this month, attracted 15,937 industry leaders from 76 countries and 48 states to San Francisco to showcase and share the very best of the biotech industry’s innovation.
BIO International is not one of those conventions where participants come to meet and greet. This is very much four days of hard and serious work. Leading pharmaceutical firms send out scouts to search for promising technologies.
“There are only a handful of states that have the BIO presence that Oklahoma does,” said Carol Curtis, i2E venture adviser. “It is an opportunity for our entrepreneurs and startups to have meaningful contact with leading companies in big pharma and big biotech. Otherwise, it would be of great expense to set up meetings with companies scattered throughout the world. These connections have the potential to lead to an exit for a startup from Tulsa or Oklahoma City or other places in our state.”
Led by the Greater Oklahoma Chamber and OKBIO, with support from i2E and others, Oklahoma hosts a large pavilion with more than 40 Oklahomans helping our biotech startups take advantage of BIO’s unique opportunity to directly interact in person with business development leaders around the world.
Partnership is all about capturing interest. BIO International has an intricate partnering system that opens up to attendees about a month before the event.
We help our client companies to complete the profile in depth with key words that connect with potential partners. Using the BIO search engine, we encourage them to request and schedule meetings.
“When an entrepreneur gets to BIO,” Curtis said, “he or she knows that they have four meetings at the OKBIO pavilion with business development managers from major companies who have interest in what they are doing.”
Relationships are born at BIO. It happens in the Oklahoma pavilion for four solid days in meetings between our entrepreneurs and development managers from firms like Pfizer, Novartis, or Johnson & Johnson.
Some of these conversations may produce deals eventually. It’s great when that happens, but deals are not the immediate goal. Innovation in biotechnology isn’t a sprint. It’s a complicated path of interconnected relationships based on years of work.
BIO meetings set the stage for ongoing give and take as international pharmaceutical companies increasingly look to small companies and universities for the R&D that fills their drug development pipeline. That’s why Oklahoma’s continued participation and presence at Bio International is so important.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.