German Biotechnology Days have become a key industry event

Opening plenary of the seventh edition of the German Biotechnology Days. Photo: S.Z. Kurc and Bernd Lammel
Opening plenary of the seventh edition of the German Biotechnology Days. Photo: S.Z. Kurc and Bernd Lammel

Germany’s national forum for biotechnology was held this year from 26 to 27 April in Leipzig. The seventh edition of the leading networking event for the German biotech industry drew over 830 registered participants from across Germany and Europe to Saxony’s largest city. The event was organised by BIO Deutschland, the Council of German BioRegions, the regional host biosaxony and the regional partner TGZ/Bio-Centre Halle. In addition to discussions on framework conditions such as innovation protection, pharmaceutical pricing and big data structures, the conference’s two-day programme featured talks on the most important areas of biotech R&D including key and cross-cutting technologies. This year the organisers also incorporated a focus on regionally relevant topics such as biotechnology and microelectronics, and modern plant research.

In the opening plenary, Oliver Schenk from the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) commended BIO Deutschland for its active and deep engagement in the Federal Government’s recently concluded Pharma Dialogue. He appealed to industry representatives to continue to be committed to exploring new methods and ideas. On the second day of the conference, State Minister Martin Dulig from the Saxony Ministry for Economics, Labour and Transport opened the plenary session. He highlighted the strength of Saxony as a location for biotech SMEs and affirmed the federal state’s willingness to support biosaxony with the continued expansion of the biotech industry.

George Schütte, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), applauded the German Biotechnology Days for serving as a meeting place for the industry. He said he was pleased that the event had become a regular fixture in the biotech industry’s calendar and in his own. He also spoke to attendees about possible measures that would augment structural assistance and simplify the application process for the KMU-innovativ funding programme. The much-cited “valley of death” should become a “valley of opportunities”, said Schütte.

In the subsequent podium discussion on “Big Data and Personalised Medicine – When Do Patients Profit from the Visions of Pharma, Biotech and Government?”, there was vigorous debate over the benefits of aggregating and analysing large volumes of information. It was emphasised that personalised medicine should not be equated with big data. All of the panellists agreed that only high quality data could produce meaningful results. It was acknowledged, however, that patients had so far seen few benefits from the digitisation and evaluation of the many parameters.

In addition to the plenaries, the conference programme offered participants – in three breakfast sessions and eighteen symposiums – the opportunity to learn new practices and ideas in a wide range of research areas, such as vaccines, genome editing and modern plant research, and to find out the latest developments in framework conditions for biotechnology. The breaks in the programme were used to network with other participants and to attend the accompanying exhibition.    
The event was supported by platinum sponsors Bayer, CMS Hasche Sigle, Life Science Inkubator and Nordmark as well as the federal state of Saxony and the Saxony Economic Development Corporation.

The eighth edition of the German Biotechnology Days will take place from 5 to 6 April 2017 in Leipzig.

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