Fighting the coronavirus: the biotechnology sector presents its Covid-19 work at the German Corona Showcase
From 23 to 25 June BIO Deutschland held the first “e-Vent” German Corona Showcase. Some 239 participants from 18 countries took part in the webinars. Over three days, 21 companies presented their research and development activities – in the areas of diagnostics, therapies, vaccines and services – to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
In his opening keynote, Oliver Schacht, Chairman of the Board of BIO Deutschland, gave an overview of the German biotechnology sector as well as the companies working on the coronavirus. He stressed that the European and German federal funding programmes to support the development of vaccines are correct and welcome, but that further measures are necessary to provide the sector with urgently needed capital for other areas such as therapeutics and diagnostics. He went on to say that the recognition that biotechnology is now receiving is important, and that he hopes that this will continue beyond the pandemic with policymakers realising that biotechnology is critical to the system in Germany and Europe.
Delivering the keynote address on the second day, Klaus Cichutek, President of the PEI and professor of biochemistry, provided a comprehensive overview of the development status of various vaccine projects in Germany and worldwide to combat SARS-CoV-2, while also discussing therapeutic approaches. During the German Corona Showcase, a number of companies praised the good cooperation with the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut – Federal Agency for Sera and Vaccines (PEI) in this time of crisis.
Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at Goethe University Frankfurt and President of the House of Pharma and Healthcare, opened the last day of the conference. He gave an overview of the current therapeutic approaches and an assessment of which approaches, based on the present state of knowledge, offer the best chances for combating the virus.
There was also a panel discussion in which experts discussed the situation of companies that are doing research on the coronavirus. The panellists welcomed the strong support for vaccine research, but expressed their wish for more support for other areas such as therapy development and diagnostics.
Another panel discussion, held on the third day of the conference, looked at how the pandemic is affecting companies that are not working on the coronavirus. It touched on a wide range of topics: business operations during the pandemic, the provision of PPE and laboratory equipment, the influence of the pandemic on clinical tests, the impact on the availability of venture capital and the current chances of successfully starting and funding a company. The experts on the panel agreed that negative impacts are being or will be felt at all levels. Some of the panellists were, however, cautiously optimistic about the future, though they went on to say that the financing ecosystem for biotechnology in Germany needs to be improved generally.
In addition to the official programme, participants could set up one-on-one partnering meetings to exchange information and ideas. The recordings of the presentations will be available to all participants with full conference access for four weeks after the conference.
More information about the conference and the programme can be found (in German) at: https://corona.ascrion.com/