Blog | May 2, 2017

Are You Ready For BIO 2017 In San Diego?

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

BIO 2017

With the BIO International 2017 Convention being just seven weeks away, your preparations as an attendee should be well underway. But until they arrive on-site, many people often overlook deciding what educational sessions to attend. And while BIO attendees can afford to take such an approach, speakers certainly cannot. As the past BIO educational planning co-chair, I can attest that a lot of work goes into pulling off a high-quality educational session at BIO. Consider the following example.

Public-Private Partnership (P3) Panel For BIO 2017 Seeks Your Input

Panelists for the session, Navigating A Clear Path For Public-Private Partnerships (Session ID: 21996) on Thursday June 22 from 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM PT, have been planning for their discussion for nearly a year. They first had to assemble a team of experts capable of speaking on a particular topic. Take a look at the lineup of change agents assembled for just this one session. First, you have Stacey Adam, Ph.D., scientific program manager for cancer at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). Next you have Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D., head of east coast innovation at Bayer. Finally, you have Issi Rozen, chief business officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard — a 13-year-old joint venture to improve human health and help lay the groundwork for a new generation of therapies. From a P3-educational-session perspective, it would be very difficult to improve upon this panel. For not only do you have speakers from the right type of organizations, but at a level where they are actively engaged in overcoming the various challenges faced when creating and executing on P3s.

Have you ever been directly involved in a P3? If so, would you be willing to share any valuable lessons you learned from the experience? If you were attending this session, what would be something you would hope to take away? What question might you want to pose to any of these panelists? As the moderator of this panel, the panelists and myself are interested in hearing your feedback so we can ensure the information will be truly useful. Please email me any suggestions to, and if appropriate, we will try to incorporate them into the session.

Your 2017 BIO Convention Planning Guide

With this year’s annual BIO meeting taking place at the San Diego Convention Center, there is less planning required as compared to last year. But as the convention center is over 600,000 square feet, and BIO is the size of show that can fill the entire space, walking from an educational session to a booth on the show floor can take just about as long as those hikes you used to make across your college campus. I know some of you spend the bulk of your time either in the sessions or on the show floor, but I’d encourage you not to skip either. After a show I usually write about what I learned from the educational sessions. But one year I got a fresh perspective from a budding bioengineer on what it was like seeing the BIO exhibit floor for the very first time, and it reminded me how important it is to be sure to take in both. Click on this link to sort through the list of exhibitors and plan for your exhibit floor excursion.

As for attending this year’s show, I offer the following tips for getting the most out of BIO 2017:

1.      Plan On Ditching Your Team - When working in pharma I was attending a national meeting where members of the company were brought together from all over the world. Viewing this as a great networking opportunity, during meal times I deliberately sat with people beyond my immediate team. After all, we had been sitting in meetings together all day long. Get this — I was actually accused of being “anti-social” for trying to meet people! Don’t let this happen to you. Have a plan for when to be a team player and when to ditch the team, and then communicate your intentions in advance to your teammates. For if you are always hanging with member of your own crew you might as well just stay home.

2.      Step Out Of Your Educational-Session Comfort Zone –Broaden your horizons; choose an educational session beyond your comfort zone of expertise. Experts are less likely to have creative breakthroughs due to fixed mental paradigms. By stepping outside of your area of expertise, you may find the solution to your problem. Don’t pick a session based on a catchy title or the subject matter. Instead, take the time to look at the speakers as well as their backgrounds. If you determine a session to be interesting, it is likely others will have as well. Plan to arrive early to avoid being turned away because the session is full.

3.      Tweet This – Social media, used properly, can be a great networking tool. Before you go to BIO, take the time to install the Twitter app and maybe HootSuite, as well. I use both so I can Tweet and follow what is going on using the #BIO2017 hashtag.

4.      BIO Tools – The event has a number of tools to help you pick sessions, networking opportunities, and so on. To get started, set up your myBIO profile — with a PICTURE! I know this takes time, as does taking advantage of the partnering tools. However, it can make a big difference in your experience.

5.      Business Cards – You may think this common sense, but I can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me they are out of business cards at shows. I take enough cards for just such an occasion, having them jot their information on the back of one of mine for safe keeping. If you are a fan of electronic business cards, great, bring a bunch of paper ones anyway for those who still like paper. When you grab a stack of cards to put it in your luggage, go back to your desk, and grab three more stacks. I have given out cards in the taxi cab line, checking in at a hotel, splitting a cab on the way back to an airport, on the plane, and even going through customs. No matter how many you might think you need, always take extra.

6. Wear Comfortable Shoes – A few years ago I recall getting on an elevator after a long day with some other BIO attendees. One woman’s feet were actually bleeding from a poor shoe choice and worse yet, there were two days left to go!

7. Take A Show Bag - I take a roller bag rather than tote a shoulder bag. After walking around all day and then heading off to various networking events, your back and shoulders can be killing you, especially if you have filled the bag with business cards. But beyond having the essentials, such as mints, notepads, pens, gum, and Chap Stick, I always include phone chargers, headphones, Advil, eye drops, a mini umbrella, bottled water, and sunscreen (it is San Diego). However, I have recently added a few additional items you might also want to consider including (i.e., hand sanitizer, Airborne, and throat lozenges). Getting sick while traveling is no fun, and after a recent experience where it took me about a month to recover after traveling, I’d rather have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

I look forward to seeing you at BIO, and hope you will consider adding Navigating A Clear Path For Public-Private Partnerships (Session ID: 21996) on Thursday June 22 from 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM PT to your list of can’t-miss educational sessions.