As they closed out their biotechnology convention Thursday after four days of meetings, panels, and parties that drew more than 16,500 industry professionals to Boston, leaders of the Biotechnology Industry Organization said they want to come back later this decade -- if they can get more exhibition space and other accommodations. “We would love to return to Boston,” said BIO president James C. Greenwood.
Patients and their families are taking an increasingly larger role in drug development, inspiring new treatments, working closely with pharmaceutical companies, and matching patients with clinical trials, paying for research, and lobbying to speed drug development. In doing so, patients are pushing their diseases into the limelight and fundamentally changing the way the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the government, approach drug creation and approval, and patient care.
Over the past two years, Greater Boston has received more funding for biotech research and start-up companies than any other region in the country. While other biotech hubs lost research and development jobs during the financial crisis, biotech jobs here rose from 46,380 in 2008 to 48,647 in 2010. This success didn’t come about by accident. For years, state and city leaders have worked hard to woo the industry, despite opposition from some lawmakers who felt the government’ shouldn’t play such an active role.
The biotechnology industry, already grappling with funding, research, and reimbursement challenges, has some new worries: how federal budget cuts and the upcoming Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s health care law could scramble their business calculations. Among other things, executives said Wednesday at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's convention in Boston, cutting National Institutes of Health grants could dampen the basic research that is the lifeblood of medical innovations while a high court ruling that invalidates the Affordable Care Act could strip away a protection that gives biotech companies a dozen years of exclusive rights to the data underpinning their protein-based drugs.
Michal Preminger, executive director of Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development, has 70 meetings on her BIO International Convention schedule. Christine Menjoz of Sanofi is only meeting with new companies at BIO — just six or seven meetings a day. The sprawling conference features high-profile keynote addresses, dozens of industry panels, and hundreds of booths and pavilions in its exhibition hall. But the main event for many attendees are dozens and dozens of “partner meetings” with other companies and institutions.
The first round of grants awarded under the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership (MIIP) were announced Tuesday at the BIO International Convention at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. MIIP is a formal collaboration between the State of Israel and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship between Massachusetts’ and Israel’s life sciences, clean energy and technology sectors.
Massachusetts and seven biopharmaceutical companies are expected to unveil an ambitious neuroscience consortium Wednesday aimed at improving the understanding and treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.