Biotech executives hold in-person meeting in Mannheim
On 3 and 4 December, the 22nd CEO & CFO Meeting took place in person in Mannheim. All participants, but also the conference centre’s staff, were required to show a negative coronavirus test result (not older than two days) at the registration desk. Companies could use their own tests or those of a cooperation partner. BIO Deutschland found a partner in its member ingenium digital diagnostics, which offers a privately administered PCR gargle test. Some 35 biotech executives were enthusiastic about the event concept, which enabled face-to-face exchange under strict safety precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program had a lot to offer on the substantive front. Kathrin Adlkofer, a BIO Deutschland board member and founder and COO of CellBox Solutions, gave a talk on the importance of logistics using many real-life examples. Matthias Saner from the topic sponsor Thermo Fisher Scientific travelled from Switzerland to present the company’s GMP production capabilities.
Lukas Linnig, BRAIN’s Chief Financial Officer since October 2020, made his debut at the event. He shared insights into the company’s new focus on growing its product-based business. Another talk in the field of industrial biotechnology was given by Jens Klein, CEO of AMSilk, whose company is contributing to sustainable manufacturing through the biotechnological production of spider silk.
The final talk on the first day was given by Enno Spillner, CFO of Evotec, who was unfortunately unable to travel to Mannheim at short notice and therefore delivered his talk via live stream. He explained the value of Evotec's subsidiaries and collaborations for the future viability and innovative strength of the company. The day ended with dinner at the conference centre.
The second day of the conference kicked off with a talk by Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac, who highlighted the past months of COVID-19 vaccine development by the Tübingen-based RNA company and gave an outlook on the next steps and challenges for regulatory approval.
Delivering his talk via live stream, Ioannis Sapountzis, from the event’s sponsor Boehringer Ingelheim, gave a glimpse into the company’s partnering pipeline. Peter Wieloch, founder and COO of ingenium digital diagnostics, reported on how his young company managed – in just a few months – to develop and independently market a COVID-19 test through digital channels. As the final speaker, Rainer Lichtenberger, CEO of Atriva Therapeutics, gave insight into the opportunities and hurdles in developing COVID-19 therapeutics and discussed the demands of the BEAT-COV Alliance (https://beat-cov.de/).
Despite (or because of) all the hygiene measures and social distancing rules, the concept of an in-person meeting received much praise from the participants. Looking back 14 days later, we can now say that no infections occurred at or in connection with the event and that the hygiene concept proved to be effective. For BIO Deutschland, it was the first real-world test of the hygiene concept for events presented in the summer and an important learning experience towards the organisation of the German Biotech Days in September 2021.
Sponsors of the event were AVIA, Boehringer Ingelheim, ingenium digital diagnostics, Miltenyi Biotec, Thermo Fisher Scientific and QIAGEN. The CEO & CFO Meeting is held exclusively for managing directors, CEOs and CFOs of biotechnology companies. The annual meeting takes place in a different location each year.