CHICAGO — Representatives from four foreign countries stood with Massachusetts officials in a moment of silence at the Biotechnology Industry Organization convention Monday to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
After reading the names of the three people who lost their lives in the attack as well as the MIT police officer who was subsequently killed, Greg Bialecki, the state’s secretary of housing and economic development, asked more than 120 people who had gathered at the Massachusetts pavilion on the exhibition floor of BIO to stand as one.
“It’s important to convey the message that this isn’t going to change who we are,” Bialecki said. “We’re going to continue to welcome the world. We understand that advances in the life sciences are so dependent on all of us working together.”
The moment of silence took place at 2:50 p.m. Boston time, exactly one week after the Marathon attacks.
Massachusetts officials had just concluded a news conference with representatives of four foreign life sciences regions to launch an international collaborative that will seek to advance research and development of new drugs, medical devices, and diagnostics.
The quasipublic Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which is leading the state delegation at the BIO convention, said it was teaming up with Victoria, Australia; the Wallonia region of Belgium; Quebec; and the Alsace region in France to form the International Collaborative Industry Program.
Each of the foreign representatives also offered condolences to the bombing victims and spoke movingly about the tragedy.
“Victoria and Australia are very much thinking of Boston and Massachusetts at this time,” said Gordon Rich-Phillips, Victorian minister for technology.
Jean Ives-Bonnefoy, president of Alsace BioValley, said people in France watched the aftermath of the Boston bombings in horror. “I would like to say to our American friends that France will never give in to terrorism,” she said.
Companies from the four regions are being encouraged to form partnerships with Massachusetts companies and submit project applications that could win $100,000 to $500,000 in funding each from the life sciences center. The center is investing up to $1 billion over a decade in the growth of biotechnology and medical technology industry in the Bay State.
The announcement was made at BIO by Susan Windham-Bannister, life sciences center president. At past BIO conventions, the center struck similar collaboration deals with Israel, Northern Ireland, the Catalonia region of Spain, and Finland.