By Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Copyright (©) 2015, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
PHILADELPHIA — By mid-day on Tuesday, people in bioscience fields from China, Texas, Japan and New Mexico had met with Justin Briggs from Oklahoma City’s Accele BioPharma Inc., at the 2015 international convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
Briggs was part of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association’s delegation, about 60 people who traveled from Oklahoma to promote the state’s bioscience sector. The association, known as OKBio for short and which includes i2E Inc. and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, sponsored a large booth that featured four meeting rooms and several open tables that any of Oklahoma’s companies could use to meet with potential investors, partners and others.
Before the convention started, Briggs had culled 250 requests for an audience with him at the convention down to 42 meetings with government associations and interested partners, and investors scheduled over the BIO convention’s three-day period. The meeting requests came from people interested in his biotechnology “venture accelerator,” which helps provide seed money and support for start-up companies, he said.
“Our mission is to do this in Oklahoma with world headquarters, so to speak, and have them managed in Oklahoma,” said Briggs, Accele’s director. “But our technology can come from anywhere.”
The BIO convention, which had more than 15,000 people registered from around the world, “is excellent because everyone’s here,” said Briggs, who is promoting the four companies in Accele’s current portfolio. “In 30 minutes you can get a good introduction, but the real work comes after.”
Most of Briggs’ meetings were held at places other than the OKBio booth, which had a full schedule of its own. By Tuesday morning, OKBio had scheduled about 160 meetings in its meeting rooms, said Josh O’Brien of the chamber.
In comparison, OKBio hosted 145 meetings in its booth at the BIO convention last year along with nearly 30 off-site.
Max Doleh, who is promoting a new Oklahoma City company this year, BIO Marketplace, said his small start-up wouldn’t have been able to get such exposure at the convention without the OKBio group.
By Tuesday, he had meetings scheduled with more than 20 groups interested in hearing about the new website, biomarketplace.com, which will be used to connect bioscience suppliers, whether they can provide blood donations or research animals or something else in the industry with researchers, hospitals and others — like amazon.com, he said, but with a science-specific focus.
The website launched last month and is still in beta testing mode, but his idea has been well received as he tries to raise awareness and learn about industry needs.
Oklahoma’s bioscience presence is helping him immensely by taking on some of the cost and providing the meeting space, Dooleh said.
Like Doleh, Robert Floyd and Carol Curtis with Oklahoma City-based EpimedX LLC, said the convention and Oklahoma’s presence there are important to their business. They have eight meetings scheduled so far, with strong possibilities for follow-up.
“I think it (BIO) makes things possible that would never be possible,” Floyd, the chief operations officers for EpimedX, which is testing a new drug to treat sickle cell anemia and are finding out that it might also have implications for vascular health as well.
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is content marketing manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, which is a member of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association and one of the sponsors of the OKBio booth at the international convention.