A tiger for a day!

June 1, 2008
Bibiana Campos-Seijo
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 20, Issue 6

On 7–9 May I attended ERBI's Biopartnering Exchange in Cambridge (UK), an event that brought together national and international entrepreneurs, senior executives and industry experts of the biotechnology sector.

On 7–9 May I attended ERBI's Biopartnering Exchange in Cambridge (UK), an event that brought together national and international entrepreneurs, senior executives and industry experts of the biotechnology sector.

Bibiana Campos-Seijo

As 2008 was ERBI's 10th anniversary they really pushed the boat out: we enjoyed talks by Nobel Prize winners, Professors and one or two Sirs, and were treated to a fabulous firework display.

From where I was sitting, the meeting was hugely successful: the sessions were interesting, informative and entertaining, and the hectic biopartnering schedule saw many delegates trying to fulfil their extremely busy timetables yet maximize the quality of the time spent meeting potential clients and investors.

A very insightful session was chaired by Andy Richards, who invited four key players in the industry to discuss their experiences and reminisce about the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly days that have helped shape their careers. It was also very refreshing to hear Clive Cookson, Science Editor of the Financial Times, encouraging researchers and scientists to engage with the press and talk to journalists. Simultaneously, he called for the media to focus on the relevance of the information provided and not its entertainment value when reporting scientific developments.

And there was debate too! There seemed to be strong disagreement among the different experts with regard to funding availability (i.e., venture capitalists or VCs) and the future of the biotechnology sector. While some asserted that there are no funds and many small companies, unviable in their view, should disappear, others maintained that although a proportion of VCs appear to have vanished into thin air, there is still money, room for investment and will to aid start-up private companies. However controversial this may be, it is a sign that all parties (industry, academics, investors) are still passionately trying to steer any developments in the biotechnology sector in the right direction.

But my favourite moment of the event has to be Professor Sir Christopher Evan's presentation. Among many incisive comments, whacky slides and clever quotes, the concluding statement "I'd rather be a tiger for one day than a sheep for 100" was the icing on the cake. It is a very romantic notion indeed, but one that, I fear, remains quite invalid as a business model. It makes, however, for wonderful life ethics...

Dr Bibiana Campos-Seijo

bcampos.seijo@advanstar.com