Alabama bioscience delegation targets connections at BIO convention

Alabama bioscience delegation targets connections at BIO convention
Evonik operates a Global Competence Center for medical devices in Birmingham, where it produces biomaterials. (Evonik)

A high-level delegation from Alabama’s bioscience industry is attending this week’s BIO International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology conference, to make connections and build relationships that could blossom into new collaborations or investment partnerships.

The Alabama delegation at BIO in Boston includes representatives from 10 different bioscience-focused companies, university officials and leaders from major research organizations based in the state. The group numbers more than two dozen officials.

The convention, which runs through today, was expected to attract more than 16,000 industry officials from more than 70 countries. The event features one-on-one partnering meetings, networking receptions and company presentations.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the state’s robust presence at BIO makes a statement about the sector’s capabilities.

“Alabama’s bioscience industry is a vital economic engine for our state, powered by promising companies and world-class research institutions making breakthrough discoveries in their labs,” Canfield said.

“The innovative work being conducted in Alabama positions our bio sector for sustained growth in the future.”

Alabama’s bioscience industry has a $7.3 billion annual economic impact and supports around 48,000 jobs across the state, according to an analysis released in May by the BioAlabama trade group.

Researchers work in a Southern Research drug development lab. (Southern Research)

‘Relationship building’

The BIO conference is the largest partnering meeting in the world for the biotech industry, and it offers many opportunities for connections, said Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“What we hope to get out of it is potential partners for some of our therapeutics we have in the pipeline now,” Nugent said. “We also want to make connections. It’s relationship building, and it also gives us a chance to build visibility for the things we’re doing in Birmingham.”

UAB and Birmingham-based Southern Research are partners in the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA), which permits the two organizations to share resources in a coordinated program.

According to UAB, the ADDA has a development pipeline of potential therapeutics for diabetes, Central Nervous System disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and various forms of cancer.

Representatives from Southern Research, as well as Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology and the University of South Alabama’s Office of Commercialization and Industry Collaboration, are attending BIO, according to BioAlabama.

The group said these Alabama companies have a presence at the event:

Employment in bioscience fields in Alabama totals nearly 18,000. (HudsonAlpha)

Targeting growth

Facilitating growth in the bioscience industry is listed as a priority in Accelerate Alabama 2.0, the state’s official economic development growth plan.

One reason is the pay: Annual salaries for those working in the field in Alabama average more than $67,000, according to the economic analysis.

BioAlabama says Alabama boasts around 780 bioscience companies and organizations, directly employing nearly 18,000 people working in a broad variety of activities.

Over the past several years, Canfield has led bio-focused Alabama trade and business development missions to Germany and Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, and Norway and Sweden.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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