OKC VeloCity | BIO International Convention presence critical for local biotech industry

BIO International Convention presence critical for local biotech industry

By David McCollum / Economy / July 11, 2018

Seven words from a representative of an American multinational biotechnology product development company perfectly summed up the Oklahoma delegation’s 2018 BIO International Convention experience. “You guys have an impressive presence here,” he said.

Three days of wall-to-wall meetings (more than 240, by far the most in the 18 years Oklahoma has had a presence at the event), presentations, business card exchanges, handshakes and receptions made for long, yet very productive, days. The BIO show is the industry's largest annual convention, with more than 15,000 people from around the world in attendance.

The delegation’s Boston efforts were organized by the Chamber and marketed under the banner of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association (OKBio), where they worked out of a 1,200-square-foot Oklahoma Bioscience Pavilion, complete with touch-screen monitors showcasing Oklahoma’s bioscience companies.

James Tomasek, PhD, vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center explained why it is so important for Oklahomans to attend.

“The meetings here at the BIO show are critical for showcasing Oklahoma's technologies and capabilities to the world,” Tomasek said. “Without this kind of environment, it's very difficult to do that. Without this, being able to come to BIO, it would be difficult for us to make the number of contacts that we do for our technologies."

James Johnson, project manager for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said the focus of the Oklahoma delegation at the BIO show has evolved over the past few years.

“I think it's moved more toward those one-on-one meetings that are at the core of real substance in terms of ‘what is the core competency that you have and how can I exchange that for the betterment of my company and my research that I'm doing?'” Johnson said. “The meeting rooms were kept very, very busy.”

Entrepreneurs like Dr. Thomas Kupiec, CEO of Oklahoma City-based ARL Bio Pharma and DNA Solutions credits the OKBIO group for making it happen.

“It's because of the great work that our OKBio Association is doing,” he said. “They helped set up and facilitate this meeting.”

Partnering meetings for Oklahoma startup companies are crucial to advancing new technologies, said Dr. Jason Sanders, M.D., senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center.

“The partnering is the key here,” he said. “Being able to talk to potential investors. The companies are in trial stage (and) being able to move those trials forward is just critical.”

Representatives from Accele Biopharma, Agric-Bioformatics, ARL Bio Pharma, Biolytx Pharmaceuticals, Caisson Biotech, DEHA, DRIK, Emergent Technologies, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, i2E, Moleculera Labs, Norman Economic Development Coalition, OKBio, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, OMRF, OneNet, OU Office of Technology Development, Ponca City Development Authority, Progentec Diagnostics, Pure MHC, Sevengenes, University of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and University of Oklahoma Stephenson Biomedical Engineering made up the OKBio delegation.

“Oklahoma is fast-becoming a breeding ground for the bioscience industry,” said Roy H. Williams, CCE, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “There is groundbreaking research being conducted in Oklahoma City and, alongside the opportunities for collaboration and investment, our bioscience community stands head and shoulders above many locations across the nation.”

From the number of meetings and the reaction by visitors to the Oklahoma booth, the world is taking notice of all of the innovation that is happening in Oklahoma!

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