First Impressions of BIO 2008

It is good to be in San Diego and be meeting many colleagues and friends I haven't seen since the last BIO.  This conference really does manage to draw people and enable them to connect. Went to a great seminar this morning titled "Do you have a clue what big pharma is looking for?"  The answer was I thought very encouraging for early stage biotech companies which are obtaining higher valuations and able to do deals in many cases with only pre-clinical data.  Some of the challenges that were identified included;

  • ensuring that there was a synergistic/strategic fit with the pharma company (although many were looking beyond their traditionally stated areas
  • being able to deal with the uncertainity of early stage development through staged milestones (so the deal may not turn out as rich as projected if some of the milestones are not met)
  • ensuring that there would be some means of reimbursement once the product was approved (the panelists generally agreed that this should be evaluated relatively early in the process

Generally, there was a sense of optimism for the early stage companies who were looking to do deals. Also got to hear the lunch session which also was quite optimistic about the prospects for the industry.  The theme I heard that ran through the lunch was that there is a real opportunity to engage the greater community in the discussion of biotechnology and that this has the potential to have great impact on the future of health, energy and multiple other areas. It was also very interesting to hear about the economic development initiatives that were occuring in Massachusetts where long term planning seems to a major initiative that is making it easier for companies to flourish.