This week, more than 400 entrepreneurs, company executives, investors, scientists, researchers and lawmakers in the life sciences industry came together for the 2015 Annual BioFlorida Conference. The conference featured innovative programming led by industry executives, scientific experts and public policy officials from Florida and around the country. It also created a forum for the sharing of best practices, networking and collaboration.
“Florida’s life science industry is strong and a major economic driver for the state,” said Nancy K. Bryan, President and CEO of BioFlorida. “The annual BioFlorida Conference fuels future innovation, collaboration and growth with a strategic focus on business, science, public policy and economic development. At this meeting, we are honored to have the opportunity to recognize significant contributions to the industry and showcase the leadership and ingenuity of Florida’s life science community.”
The conference addressed distinct areas of innovation and opportunity for Florida’s life science industry such as immuno-oncology, precision medicine, medical technology, regenerative medicine, digital health topics, space research and traumatic brain injury. Attendees also gained insights from industry experts on how to grow their business with dedicated sessions on business development, reimbursement, licensing and regulatory topics. Seed and early stage companies benefited from a dedicated BioPitch program that provided the opportunity to present their business plans and financing requests to a panel of investors. The 2015 BioPitch winner was Admetsys, a company that has developed the first fully-automated glucose control system specifically for the needs of hospital and surgical care.
BioFlorida also utilized the high visibility of the event to recognize individuals and organizations for their ingenuity and innovation within the life sciences industry through awarding four distinct recognitions. This year’s award recipients include:
BioFlorida Leadership Award
The BioFlorida Leadership Award is designated for a BioFlorida volunteer who has taken on a leadership role, dedicated significant time to the mission and has served as an ambassador for the organization.
The 2015 BioFlorida Leadership Award was presented this week at the annual BioFlorida Conference to Thad Seymour, Jr. Seymour is recognized for his vision and passion for growing the life sciences industry in Orlando and throughout the state. Prior to retiring earlier this year, he led strategy and business development for Tavistock Development Company, the developer of Lake Nona, which successfully combines a medical innovation cluster with a residential development that emphasizes health, education and sustainability. Lake Nona Medical City has attracted more than $3 billion in capital investment from high profile life sciences organizations including Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Nemours Children’s Hospital, University of Central Florida Health Sciences Campus, University of Florida Research and Academic Center, VA Medical Center and the Guidewell Innovation Center.
Seymour also helped create and later co-chaired BioOrlando, the central chapter of BioFlorida. He has been an active board member and an ambassador for the organization and for the life sciences industry across the state of Florida.
David J. Gury Company of the Year Award
The Company of the Year is designated for a company or organization that has had significant achievements leading to the advancement of the life sciences in Florida.
The David J. Gury Company of the Year Award was presented to Claudia Zylberberg, PhD of Akron Biotech. Akron Biotechnology places a strategic focus in developing, manufacturing and commercializing novel cGMP grade products aimed at regenerative medicine, biopharmaceutical, biotechnology and cell therapy industries. Earlier this year, Akron Biotechnology and Cognate BioServices announced a strategic partnership to provide a more complete package of services to their clients, unifying their resources to better serve growing market demands internationally.
Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has made extraordinary contributions to the growth of life sciences in the leadership of a company or institution.
The 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Matthew H.J. Kim with Vigilant Biosciences, Inc. Inspired by both his parents’ battle to overcome their affliction with oral cancer, Kim founded Vigilant Biosciences, Inc., a successful University of Miami spin-off in 2011. Vigilant Biosciences, Inc. is recognized as a leading innovator and developer of solutions that aid in the early detection and intervention of cancer. The company aims to enhance the lives of patients and their families by providing point-of-care and lab-based solutions that empower healthcare practitioners to assess the risk of oral cancer early and improve outcomes through earlier intervention.
BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award
The 2015 BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for recognizing an individual’s outstanding leadership in the industry throughout their career that has significantly contributed to the growth of the industry.
The 2015 recipient of the BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Patti Breedlove with the University of Florida’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator. In her role, Breedlove has successfully fostered the growth of many young bioscience companies including Nanotherapeutics, AxoGen and Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC). The program assists businesses in recruiting experienced leadership, works to foster relationships with potential investors and partners and provides them with laboratory space, animal facilities, fermentation facilities, greenhouses and $1 million of core scientific equipment. The average Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator company raises $24 million in investment.
Breedlove has also served on the executive committee of BioFlorida for 11 years and has chaired BioFlorida’s most successful chapter event, the Celebration of Biotechnology, creating a collaborative outdoor atmosphere that attracts hundreds of life science professionals to Alachua each spring.
Florida’s life sciences industry has a full calendar of events for the remainder of 2015 and the 2016 BioFlorida Conference will be held October 9 to October 11 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in conjunction with Southeast BIO. A list of upcoming events hosted by BioFlorida, including details surrounding the organization’s legislative day, can be found here.
BioFlorida is the voice of Florida’s life sciences industry, representing nearly 5,500 establishments and research organizations in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices/diagnostics and bioagriculture sectors that collectively employ nearly 80,000 Floridians (Source: Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014). BioFlorida’s member driven initiatives provide a strong business climate for the advancement of innovative products that improve lives and promote economic benefits to the state.