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BioFlorida Conference: Here's What You Missed

October 25, 2011
As I mentioned last week, BIO President & CEO James C. Greenwood kicked-off  this week’s BioFlorida 14th Annual Conference with a keynote speech. Thanks to @BioFlorida2011 for tweeting some of his speech highlights.

If you were not able to make it to Tampa for the conference, fear not, I've got you covered. Here’s a rundown of some of the things you missed:

It's All About Efficiency, Innovation and Globalization

[caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignright" width="163" caption="Isaac Ro, Goldman Sachs"]Isaac Ro, Goldman Sachs[/caption]

Goldman Sachs equity analyst Isaac Ro led the kick-off session of the conference's BioInvesting and BioPartnering track. During the session, aptly titled "A Candid Assessment of the Current Deal Market in Bioscience, Medical Devices and Personalized Medicine," Mr. Ro provided insights into what he predicts will be the future for funding, licensing and M&A transactions.

In encouraging companies to be as proactive and "ahead of the game" as possible to help fundraising efforts, Mr. Ro emphasized the importance of knowing who your competitors were, identifying potential partners, and defining your long-term role.

The bottom line is that investors are looking for companies that can grow, he stated, adding that the three most exciting attributes for investors are efficiency, innovation and globalization.

Mixed Investor Landscape in 2011

One yesterday's most popular sessions was the forum where two early-stage start-ups seeking less than $1 million in pre-institutional funding had the opportunity to make presentations to a panel of senior executives from a venture fund and two angel investing funds.

Moderated by TriNet's Stuart Manning, the panelists included Rhys Williams of New World Angels, Tim Cartwright of Tamiami Angels Fund, and Karl Elderkin of Athenian Venture Partners.

Mr. Williams provided the audience with his assessment of the angel investing landscape that he characterized as "...shifting sands and rather bizarre, but full of promise and opportunity..." Mr. Elderkin noted that venture capitalists have a waning interest in therapeutics largely because they don't have the patience to wait for regulatory approvals, so they prefer quicker to market investments in areas such as medical devices.

Mr. Cartwright's angel fund is very new - they are working on their second investment but plan on making 4 to 5 investments over the next 6-8 months in the range of $200,000 to $600,000.

Two presentations by companies with very exciting products to improve human health captured the attention of the audience. CvergenX CEO Mary Del Brady showcased her company's product that essentially individualizes radiation therapy by determining whether a tumor will be sensitive to radiation. Dr. Lori Hazelhurst of Modulation Therapeutics offered an overview of her company's development of a very exciting therapeutic for multiple myeloma.

He Who Files First Wins?

Spirited and informative debate ruled the day at the BioBusiness session track on patent reform and other recent developments in intellectual property law and policy. Tom Dilenge, general counsel for BIO, said there has been an "explosion" of patent filings since the 1980s. The dramatic increase, Mr. Dilenge noted, has led to a backlog of more than 700,000 applications pending. As a result, the United States has faced criticism for "over-patenting."

Janelle Waack of Novak Druce + Quigg walked session attendees through the new law that will go into effect March 16, 2013. For example, what happens when two organizations try to patent the same invention? Under the current law, the two parties would argue in the patent office to show "first to invent" using documentation of lab notes, or swear behind a publication published within one year.

The new legislation changes the process to a "first-to-file" system, which is essentially a "race-to-the-mailbox" approach. Ms. Waack stressed that in light of the new legislation companies should file for patents ASAP and said she is currently counseling clients to file multiple provisions through the invention process.

Sunshine State: A Hub of Innovative Diabetes Research

What happens when you invite three renowned experts from Florida's universities and research institutes to discuss diabetes research? You get some real insights into the inherent challenges of developing informative clinical trials for diabetes and other chronic, heterogeneous diseases.

[caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignright" width="161" caption="Dr. David Ostrov, University of Florida College of Medicine"][/caption]

Titled "Diabetes Research: Tackling One of the World's Most Costly Diseases," Monday's second session in the BioScience Track explored the findings of some of the current clinical trials and examined how some of the work being done in Florida is among the most innovative when it comes to prevention and treatment of this deadly disease.

Moderated by Nicole Johnson, executive director of Bringing Science Home at USF Health, and national advocate for people with diabetes, panelists included Dr. Jennifer Marks, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Dr. David Ostrov, University of Florida College of Medicine and Dr. Richard Pratley, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

[caption id="attachment_4851" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Left Photo: US Rep. Kathy Castor and Tom McClain, Claro Scientific  Right Photo: Russell Allen, BioFlorida and James C. Greenwood, BIO"][/caption]