A showcase of New Zealand bioscience is bringing an eclectic range of entrepreneurs, leaders from multinational pharmaceutical companies and research and development organisations and financiers to Auckland later this month.
The annual NZBIO conference March 26-28 will cover diverse topics including drug development, future foods, the importance of biotechnology to New Zealand's agriculture, the need to protect intellectual property, how to fund good ideas and how to maximise infrastructure to develop those ideas.
Stories about the kiwifruit industry's "year from hell" when PSA attacked vines will be told, alongside a happier yarn about Queensland researchers producing bananas with far greater amounts of pro-vitamin A that may help solve public health problems in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Michelle Sullivan, NZBIO's chief executive, says the combination of local talent with international experts in their field in panel discussions and breakout sessions promises some dynamic interaction.
A chance to question three of the Crown Research Institute CEOs - Peter Landon Lane (Plant & Food), John Morgan (NIWA) and Warren Parker (SCION) - who will appear on one panel, will be welcomed by many.
The testosterone treatment subject arises when key note speaker, Dr Richard Treagus, outgoing chief executive of Acrux, talks on linking the external world to internal biotech organisations. Australian stock exchange (ASX) listed Acrux develops and commercialises pharmaceutical products for global markets, using innovative technology to administer proven medicines through the skin.
In March 2010, Acrux signed the largest single product licensing deal in the history of Australian biotechnology for AxironR, a treatment for hypogondism (testosterone deficiency in men). Acrux's worldwide licensee Eli Lilly launched Axiron into a US$1.5 billion market in April 2011, with potential distribution into another 142 countries. In February this year the company announced it has secured 10% of the US market and it made an A$5.1 million profit for the first six months of its current financial year.
Dr Jeffrey Nye, the vice-president and global head of external innovation for neuroscience at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, is another key note speaker. He will look at the emerging model for big pharmaceutical companies.
Dr Nye also co-leads the Janssen team responsible for implementing the neuroscience strategy through licensing deals, venture investments, academic deals and novel business structures.
Other international speakers include:
. Dr John Shen, programme manager therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases, NIH Centre for Translational Therapeutics, National Human Genome Research Institute, US National Institute of Health
. Prof Alex Matter, chief executive of Experimental Therapeutics Centre A*STAR in Singapore and former director of the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases and global head of oncology research for Novartis.
. Dr Serge La Plante, from Merinov - an R&D innovation centre for aquaculture and fisheries from Quebec, situated in Gaspe, Canada.
More than 450 delegates are expected at The Langham Hotel Auckland for the conference.
To attend go to http://nzbio2012.co.nz/registration