Ample numbers of electrons will be spent discussing the BIO2016 conference in San Francisco last week, both positive and negative.
Not wanting to be left out of the fun, here are a few of our observations, with the usual caveats about not attending company presentations, etc.
Ten Thousand Steps – We averaged 10,274 steps from June 5 through June 10. During the course of these many steps, we obviously heard many complaints about the distances between meetings. Rather than complain about it, it’s interesting to think back to previous BIO conventions.
Which cities have the convention center, hotels, and other accoutrements necessary to host this massive event? Certainly previous conventions in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and San Diego worked quite well.
This idea of multi-building conferences is not unique to BIO, as the organizers of the most recent Biotech Showcase learned.
But was it really that bad? Generally speaking, it was not. In fact, hosted a record-breaking 37,500 partnering meetings. However, a few exhibitors we spoke with made comments about reduced foot traffic compared to prior BIO conferences. Whether this will make much of a difference in the long run is an open question.
We will be returning to San Diego next year, follow by returns to Boston in 2018 and Philadelphia in 2019. Future convention dates are listed here. So we can all relax. Our step counts for the next three conventions will be lower (maybe).
It’s All Personal – Whoever conceived the idea that business is not personal did not know what s/he was talking about. As a consultant, there is no question that we do what is in the best financial and corporate interests of our clients. But we cannot ignore the personal side of our activities.
We are convinced that there are folks in our community who use “business” to treat people in ways which would not be acceptable in any other environment. Yet this is a huge mistake, especially in our highly connected, increasingly social business environment. For a few good articles on this idea, check out this one, this one, and especially this one.
Partnering – What about the partnering discussions in the partnering booths? Looking through our meeting list, we noticed a few themes:
Late-stage antibiotics remain an enigma. On the one hand, resistance patterns point towards clear unmet medical needs. Yet these markets are primarily low prevalence/high cost, which are not exactly what payers want to see.
Further, resistance patterns can differ from geography to geography, perhaps limiting the global licensing opportunity for a company developing novel antibiotics.
Drug delivery and reformulation remains a highly viable approach to develop products which provide relevant clinical benefits. But licensing these kinds of products prior to Phase III remain a challenge.
Thus, the challenge for management teams is to convince investors that the funds required will either generate a license with highly favorable ROI for investors, or that taking the product all the way to commercialization will provide an even higher ROI.
Animal Health licensing remains very strong. Major animal health companies remain highly interested in novel therapeutics for both food and companion animals. Innovators will likely have to collaborate with the animal health companies to build strong business cases to sell opportunities internally.
What’s Next? – For us, the net few weeks are busy with follow up phone calls, emails, term sheets, and proposals. It’s critical to complete this activity before the July-August vacation season slow down. The next conference for us will be BIO-Europe Fall in Cologne in November. See you there!