(via BioFlorida) More than 500 business executives, entrepreneurs, academics and other stakeholders gathered at the JW Marriott Marquis for BioFlorida’s 15th Annual Conference, the hallmark industry event for Florida’s bioscience industry. This year’s event was stacked with dynamic speakers and panelists representing the state’s growing bioscience community. The conference was kicked off with a keynote speech from Florida’s 43rd Governor and bioscience champion, Jeb Bush, followed on Tuesday by an engaging keynote address from Bernie Siegel, J.D., founder and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute and founder and chair of the World Stem Cell Summit.
“BioFlorida’s goal is to support and maintain the momentum that Florida’s bioscience industry has gained by coordinating and facilitating informative, interactive and industry-advancing networking events such as this year’s annual conference,” said Russell Allen, president and CEO of BioFlorida.
The BioFlorida conference featured other high-profile speakers including the leaders of two Florida universities: Florida International University President Mark R. Rosenberg and University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala. Frank R. Nero, president and CEO of The Beacon Council, joined Rosenberg and Shalala for a discussion on higher education’s role in building a bioscience economy.
Attendees engaged with state and global leaders from top research institutions, including the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the University of Florida Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator; and leading bio-focused companies including Medtronic, Merck & Company Inc., Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corporation and GE Healthcare. The conference discussions included panelists from several different countries including China, Denmark, England and Panama.
“Not only did the conference provide a platform for the exchange of innovative ideas, global perspectives and best practices, it provided young companies an opportunity to connect with investors,” said Les Croland, conference chair and attorney with Edwards Wildman Palmer, an international law firm that specializes in private equity, venture capital, corporate and finance transactions, among other specialties.
Over the past five years, an increasing number of bio-focused companies have chosen to open facilities in Florida. According to the University of Florida Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator’s Florida BioDatabase, 215 biotechnology companies now call Florida home – a more than 40 percent increase from five years ago. The state has also seen an increase in venture capital investment among start-up bioscience companies. As outlined in Florida’s BioPulse: A Snapshot of the Bioscience Industry, the biomedical venture capital investments in Florida increased during 2011 to nearly $87 million, a 200 percent jump from 2010. BioFlorida is supporting this growth by providing networking and professional development platforms, such as the 15th Annual Conference for the state’s rising bioscience industry stakeholders.
Dr. Shailesh Chavan – senior director of clinical research, medical affairs & drug safety at Biotest Pharmaceuticals, which opened a Florida facility in 2007 – said the company’s move was fueled by Florida’s rising bioscience reputation.
“While Biotest’s corporate headquarters are in Germany, Florida was strategically selected as the location of our state-of-the art manufacturing facility,” said Dr. Chavan. “Through investment and accelerated growth, Florida has established itself as a state that supports the advancement of bioscience research, innovation and business.”
Florida’s bioscience industry has a full calendar of events for the remainder of 2012, including the World Stem Cell Summit in West Palm Beach December 3 – 5. Additional upcoming events hosted by BioFlorida can be found here.