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More than 700 business people from across the Southeast gravitated to Winston-Salem last week for Biotech 2008, the largest industry conference in the region. The 17th annual event, hosted by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), included presentations by thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and researchers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.
There was standing room only for the opening session, a presentation by former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt Jr. While in office, Governor Hunt led efforts to transform the state's economy by launching the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. These centers helped establish the state's reputation for innovation.
Other featured speakers were Frederick Frank, vice chairman and a director of Lehman Brothers Inc., in New York; John Maraganore, president and CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.; and Edward Saltzman, founder and president of Defined Health in Florham Park, N.J.
Among the companies represented at the conference were: AAI Pharma, AlphaVax, Bayer Cropscience, BD Technologies, Biogen Idec, Duke Energy, Genentech, GSK, Inc., Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Lehman Brothers, Merck, NovaQuest, Novozyme, POZEN Inc., PPD, Progress Energy, Quintiles, Serenex, Merz Pharmaceuticals, Targacept, Tranzyme Pharma and Wyeth Biotech.
The wide range of attendees underscores the conference's relevance, and North Carolina's prominence, in the biotechnology industry.
"A thriving biotech community needs three ingredients," said conference co-chair Vipin Garg, President and CEO of Tranzyme Pharma in Durham. "North Carolina has all three: good research from universities and medical schools; government and private industry partnerships, like the Biotech Center and CED; and funding from local and international investors. We have matured to the point where key ingredients can grow and sustain the local industry."
The result, he continued, is an outstanding environment for biotechnology. "We're not only focused on healthcare, but also on biofuels, marine biotechnology and agriculture, nanotech and a very large and contract research," he said. "North Carolina's biotech industry is the most diverse of any of the other biotech hubs."
At a gala dinner on May 19, CED's outgoing president Monica Doss received the Charles Hamner Leadership Award for her more than 20-year stewardship of the organization and support of the state's new-economy entrepreneurs. Doss will retire from CED at the end of May. Under her leadership, CED became the largest entrepreneurial support organization in the United States, with more than 5,000 members representing 1,100 member companies.
The award was presented by its namesake, Charles Hamner, former director of the N.C. Biotechnology Center. During his tenure, the Center invested more than $50 million in the state's universities, seed-funded 62 startup companies, created a $26-million venture capital fund and helped recruit more than a dozen biotechnology companies to North Carolina. Hamner is now the chairman of the Research Triangle Park-based Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, an independent, nonprofit coalition of universities, foundations, government agencies, and private sector businesses engaged in environmental risk assessment and biomedical sciences research and development.
About Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)
The Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1984 to identify, enable and promote high-growth, high-impact companies and accelerate the regionís entrepreneurial culture.
Headquartered in the Research Triangle Park, CED is the oldest and largest entrepreneurial support organization in the nation with more than 5,000 active members representing over 1,100 companies. CED provides know-how, networking, mentoring and capital formation resources to new and existing high-growth entrepreneurs through more than 150 annual conferences, forums, workshops, programs and through publications and web-based resources.
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