Raise Your Voice: Letters

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Worth the price of admission

For years, economic developers have flocked in droves to the semiannual World Congress of the International Development Research Council (IDRC, now CoreNet). But if the recent BIO 2002 conference in Toronto is any barometer, the International Biotechnology Convention and Exhibition has quickly become an even greater draw. Is it worth the price of admission or are too many communiiies just “betting the pharm” on the latest version of dotcoms? Economic development groups big and small have always regarded attendance at the semiannual meetings of the IDRC, and now, after its merger with National Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives, CoreNet, as essential elements in their marketing pro grams. Whether it has been a $2,000 invest ment to simply attend the show or $200,000 to stage a lavish hospitality suite, many groups have regarded participation in these world congresses as all but nonnegotiable. But vir tually overnight, another trade show has cap tured the attendance and bigdollar invest ment of hundreds of economic development organizations throughout the world. At the recent BIO 2002, the number of sponsoring and exhibiting economic development groups jumped to 130 from 80 the year before. At least half of the 50 states were represented, in addition to scores of local communities throughout the U.S. They were joined by exhibitors from as far away as Norway, China, and Australia. One economic development professional from western New York said it seemed like more than 50% of the 15,000 attendees were other economic developers. Is it worth the investment of time, money, and personnel these groups are making, not just on the BIO show itself but on the larger effort to develop strong biorelated clusters in their communities? Or are many of them swinging for the fences in an effort unlikely to yield them a single or double, let alone a grand slam home run? That more pessimistic view was one sup ported by The Brookings Institution, which during BIO 2002 released a report entitled “Signs of Life: The Growth of Biotechnology Centers in the US.” The report stated that just nine of the top 51 U.S. metropolitan areas held a “growing and formidable lead” in the effort to develop biotechnology clusters, and most others would struggle to build the critical mass of talent and commercialization the industry requires. The Brookings study as well as the heavy participation of economic develop ers in the BIO show, were reported in prominent stories in both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. As for next year, when BIO 2003 will be held in Washington, D.C, we’ll see how much com petition will be there. Rob DeRocker EXECUTIVE VP, DEVELOPMENT COUNSELLORS INTERNATIONAL Is it worth the investment of time,money,and personnel these groups are making,not just on the BIO show itself but on the larger effort to develop strong biorelated clusters in their communities? Or are many of them swinging for the fences in an effort unlikely to yield them a single or double, let alone a grand slam home run? — Rob DeRocker DEVELOPMENT COUNSELLORS INTERNATIONAL MEGAMERGERS: BOON OR BUST? The recent news of the merger between Pfizer and Pharmacia is just the latest megadeal to redefine the pharmaceutical landscape. Strategic mergers, takeovers, and divestiture of noncore businesses to lever age R&D, eliminate duplicate R&D, leverage differing geographic sales and marketing strengths, and streamline administrative support functions are some of the advantages. Oth ers say these megamergers don’t work, and in fact, have decreased the productivity of the pipelines and have led to behe moth entities that are already too slow to adopt to a rapidly changing environment. PharmaVOICE wants to know: can megapharmaceutical compa nies manage to navigate the obstacles in an ever evolving lifescience environment? What’s Your Opinion? Please email your comments to feedback@pharmalinx.com What’s Your Opinion? LETTERS The BIO Boom

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