Taking place in nearby Chicago from April 22-25, the 2013 BIO International Convention provided an excellent opportunity for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry to showcase its strength and develop new business prospects. Leveraging the industry leadership of BioForward and the marketing assets of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin drew strong interest among attendees at this year’s show for the innovation taking place in the state.

Wisconsin’s showing at BIO 2013 included 107 attending companies and organizations. Twelve industry representatives joined BioForward and WEDC as sponsors of the Wisconsin pavilion, a 20-foot by 40-foot exhibit designed to deliver powerful messages regarding the state’s business climate and our bioscience capabilities.

Wisconsin’s physical presence at the event drew upon the In Wisconsin branding strategy developed by WEDC to promote business opportunities in the state. Marshfield Clinic Director of Applied Sciences Marsha Barwick points out that the booth used at this year’s event helped tell the Wisconsin story and communicate the many benefits bioscience companies operating here enjoy. “The power of the new branding helped underscore the cohesiveness of our industry and the dedication with which its members work toward growing the research and biosciences sectors.”

Marshfield Clinic finds value in the opportunities to collaborate with other innovators at BIO. The event also allows the company to seek partners to license its medical technologies, according to Barwick, who reports that this year’s event produced a number of good leads, both through the event’s online partnering system and through tradeshow floor networking. Some of these leads will take years to produce outcomes, which is why Marshfield Clinic takes a long-term view of the true benefits of BIO participation.

BIO can also help speed negotiations along, as was the case with case with NeoClone, a company that develops high quality antibodies. Company CEO Deven McGlenn met a potential strategic partner at last year’s BIO event and had been working on an agreement over the past year.

After finalizing the terms of a collaborative effort at BIO 2013, McGlenn explains, “While it is likely that we would have closed on this deal at some point, being at BIO shortened that process by about four months.”

NeoClone executed another deal at the 2013 convention with a company that reached out to them through the event’s partnering system. The company is now marketing NeoClone’s products.

“I anticipate this deal will increase our projected sales for the year by at least 30 percent. This deal simply would not have happened had NeoClone not been at BIO,” states McGlenn.

NeoClone was one of 20 Wisconsin companies that received financial assistance to attend BIO 2013. Scholarship funds were provided by Madison Gas and Electric, University Research Park, Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) (previously known as Thrive), WEDC, Marshfield Clinic, Flugen and BioForward.

“The fact that this year’s event was so nearby and that more sponsorship dollars were devoted to scholarships meant Wisconsin had a really great showing at BIO 3013,” states Kathy Collins, business development director for BioForward.

Collins also points out that attending companies from Wisconsin made better use of the event partnering system this year. Using the online partnering system, Wisconsin companies scheduled 644 one-on-one meetings with potential buyers or business partners. Many of the meetings took place in the Wisconsin pavilion where visiting company representatives learned about Wisconsin’s world-class bio-science infrastructure. According to the 2012 Battel/BIO State Bioscience Industry Development report, Wisconsin has one of the nation’s healthiest, fastest growing bioscience sectors. The report showed that Wisconsin’s bioscience industry’s 1,366 businesses employed nearly 31,000 people in 2012, with annual wages ranging from $54,822 in agricultural feedstock and chemicals, to $79,409 in medical the medical devices and equipment sector.

While WEDC provided marketing and event logistics support to the BIO 2013 conference, BioForward focused on messaging and business development. WEDC Events Manager Sarah Bownds sees additional opportunities for this partnership model. “Leveraging the In Wisconsin brand and WEDC’s exhibit property and event planning expertise, we see great potential to work with other industry groups to market the state at major international tradeshows.”

Photo courtesy of BioForward

BIO 2013 also kept Governor Scott Walker busy with a full schedule of meetings organized by WEDC with company leaders prior to a well-attended reception in the evening on April 23, 2013.

“There’s a lot of recognition within the industry that great things are happening in Wisconsin,” states Lisa Johnson, WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. “Companies and industry leaders see enormous potential for success here.”

(June 2013)