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As a newcomer to the pharma and biotech industry, I was excited not only to be attending Bio International, but my first in-person convention in a while. It was a great feeling to be back on an exhibition floor to experience the buzz and excitement of everything an industry event has to offer.
And it was certainly impressive. BIO 2022 drew more than 14,000 attendees with representation from 65 countries, and approximately 44,000 partnering meetings taking place over four days.
While the great and the good gathered at BIO, the industry is facing interesting times – not least discussion around the ‘Biotech Winter’ with executives bracing themselves for a prolonged downturn. With the macro-economic outlook causing investors to be cautious in their approach despite cash available, there are fears that a tough market will result in companies cutting back on research and drug development, despite the impending patent cliff many are facing.
But this is a sector that is constantly innovating. A truly thrilling moment was hearing Dr Kjell Lindgren MD, Crew-4 mission commander, broadcasting live from the International Space Station. Microgravity research is probing our world in way that was previously not possible, looking at changes in biological functions which are usually masked by gravity, to improve health outcomes. Having had a few stomach churning moments myself patching in speakers from the other side of the world, it was impressive how smoothly the conversation went, given that he was travelling at 17,000mph at the time.
Another highlight was the keynote session with Erin Andrews interviewing Venus Williams about her healthcare journey. As a lay person getting to grips with the complex ecosystem of the pharma and biotech industry it was great to take a step back and be reminded ultimately why this sector is so important – the end goal behind every decision on asset and drug development is a positive outcome in tackling disease to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients. Venus talked at length about how she found the strength to continue with her professional tennis career in the years before her diagnosis, what it took to build her resilience and why becoming a health advocate is so important to her.
Collaboration was a key theme throughout many of the sessions. The past few years has taught us that building trust – within communities, with patient groups, sharing outcomes and data, cooperation between regulators and building strength around partnerships will be key to driving this industry forward and in helping us prepare should we face another pandemic.
Above all, we must remember that it is thanks to this industry that we could gather again in the first place; BIO Chief Public Affairs & Marketing Officer Rich Masters commented “The first in-person BIO International Convention since 2019 was a great success in large part because of the science our companies pioneered, which allowed in-person gatherings to even happen….. I'm confident that we will continue to see some of the world's most significant innovations come out of the connections made at the BIO International Convention and we are looking forward to raising the bar next year in Boston, we’ll see you there.”
I, for one, am looking forward to it!