Doubling Down on Science: 5 Highlights From the 2017 BioHealth Capital Region Forum

BioHealth Capital Region Forum doubles attendance and continues to elevate the MD/DC/VA biotech hub

Just a few short years ago, when we first convened the BioHealth Capital Region Forum (BHCR) in Gaithersburg, MD, our hopes were high for creating an event to inspire scientific collaboration and to move the region forward as one of the nation’s top biotech hubs. Within three years, we are invigorated to see such a significant forward motion—putting us well on our way to becoming a “Top 3 by 2023.”

For those of you who missed this year’s event, here are 5 key points:

1.    Record attendance, VIP participation
Our 2017 forum drew more than twice the number of attendees as the previous year—about 1,000 from around the region—and included not just industry, academic and government organizations, but also policymakers such as MD Governor Larry Hogan—a keynote speaker with a very personal story—US Senator (MD) Chris Van Hollen (you can watch a conversation with him here) and US Representative (MD) John K. Delaney.

2.    Expanded digital reach
Our focus this year—Advancing Science and Accelerating Innovation—not only inspired substantive and lively discussions but also sparked a surge in real-time, online social engagement via our #BHCRForum17 hashtag. Nearly 300 participants sent out more than 2,000 tweets, and we amassed close to 10 million impressions.

3.     What we’ve done, where we’re going
We’ve accomplished much in our efforts to engage the science players in the region and develop the BHCR brand. We learned that more than five dozen new startups were formed, a recent analysis ranks our region at number four nationally, we’re tied for number one in talent, and we are innovation leaders—including MedImmune’s own contribution of three BLA filings just last year. Now, we’re laser-focused on moving the BHCR brand forward, and we had multiple panel discussions from academic leaders from the University System of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, Case Western Reserve University and the University of California; and, industry perspectives from companies that included Pfizer, Eli Lilly, AbbVie, Amgen and AstraZeneca.

4.    Showcasing our STEM commitment
Part of our effort toward becoming a “Top 3 by 2023” means inspiring the next generation of science leaders. We showcased this commitment to our ecosystem and the community through our MdBio Mobile eXploration Lab (MXLab), the country’s largest, most advanced mobile laboratory. MXLab is custom-designed to expand new technology and laboratory science experiences to pique students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning and careers.

5.    Crab Trap: Rewarding innovation
Innovation is what drives science, and we are always on a search for ideas and ways of thinking that lead to new discoveries. This year, we brought back the Crab Trap competition in which five finalists presented for a chance to be named the company with the most commercial potential. The winner—LifeSprout—will receive $10,000, business mentoring and incubator space in the region.

Overall, the 2017 BioHealth Capital Region Forum continues to demonstrate how industry, higher education and other institutions can work together to progress the science and the ecosystem. We have a vibrant, growing region that drives both innovation and employment growth; this is exciting for us, and the future and our region’s influential role in biotech is undeniable.

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  • Science