The whirlwind of the BIO 2009 International Convention has come to a close. For the first time in a week I'm not rushing, racing, talking or being interviewed. I thought the Convention was a huge success and that's what everyone who offered me their opinions seemed to be saying.
Despite the economic recession, we had well over 14,000 attendees. The Business Forum was humming with something like 15,000 one-on-one meetings. For me it started last Friday with pre-conference media interviews. On Saturday and Sunday the pace began to pick up with speaking engagements, rehearsal of my keynote address, BIO staff dinners and the Biotechnology Institute dinner event. On Monday morning I had the pleasure of doing a live FOX TV interview with former UN Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. He gave the keynote at BIO's Diversity Summit.
Monday was largely consumed by a series of BIO Board meetings and a reception capped off with the Convention's Opening Reception at the Georgia Dome with the B-52's. Tuesday began with my participation on a a panel at the BIO HR conference. Then Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and I cut the ribbon to open the exhibition hall. At the plenary lunch I gave my keynote and greeted Elton John before his. I thought he did a very nice job and encourage the biotech community to support his foundation (http://iambiotech.org/ejaf/).
Afterwards, I MC'd a press conference with several BIO member companies working on HIV/AIDS. Then it was down to the exhibition hall to meet Governors Tim Kaine of Virginia and Bev Perdue of North Carolina. The evening included the Government Officials Reception and a reception for CEOs and patients. On Wednesday, I had breakfast with Massachusettes Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. The Governor agreed to write to President Obama in support of the Eshoo/Inslee/Barton biosimilar bill (H.R. 1548). Then I moderated a panel on health care reform with the leaders of the American Cancer Society, Regence BlueCross BlueShield and American Medical Association before heading to the plenary luncheon. The luncheon discussion on health care reform among former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, Governor Howard Dean and Karl Rove was awesome. Then I convened a meeting with the heads of biotech associations from around the world, did a press conference with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, and went to the Business Forum reception on the way to the Gala Reception at the Georgia Aquarium (largest aquarium in the world). After a series of morning meetings on Thursday I did a tour of the exhibition hall and paid visits to the pavillions of Brazil, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Spain. Then more TV and radio and print interviews before the closing party at The Tabernacle. BIO's Communication VP, Jeff Joseph, sang Mustang Sally with the live band karaoke. He is a rock star! And no, that dancing fool in front of the stage at the end of the party was definitely not me. Now, on to planning for the Convention’s return to Chicago, IL next year. I hope you will join us May 3-6th for the 2010 BIO International Convention. It’s not too early to begin thinking about exhibiting and planning a panel session! --Jim