Choose New Jersey
Michele Brown, CEO
201 Princeton Forrestal Village
Princeton, NJ 08560
From June 15 to June 18, New Jersey’s life sciences prowess will be on display at the Bio International Convention in Philadelphia, the international industry event that will feature more than 1,700 exhibitors, 4,000-plus participating companies, c-level executives from 65 countries and more than 300 academic institutions, including major research labs, and government agencies. Including ancillary professionals such as lawyers, accountants and venture capitalists, the three-day event is expected to attract more than 16,000 attendees.
The event is New Jersey’s moment to shine, as it is home to the country’s third largest biotech industry cluster with 3,100 biotech institutions here, plus leading institutions of higher education that are working hand-in-hand with the industry on drug development.
It will be hard to miss the state’s presence at Bio International with its two-story, 30’ x 50’ NJ Pavilion (booth #4217) located near the entrances of the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s main exhibit floor. It is the largest presence the state has ever had at a BIO conference (last year’s event was held in San Diego). On hand will be Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and the members of the New Jersey Partnership or Action (PFA), the four-pronged entity that is in charge of economic development in the state, plus representatives of the state’s life sciences trade associations and institutions of higher education.
Michele Brown and her staff at Choose New Jersey (part of the PFA team) are currently in the midst planning event happenings. The recently named CEO of the state’s economic development marketing arm, and former head of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, says the main message to the slew of global biotech companies at the event is, “If you are a company looking to establish a business in the US, New Jersey is the logical place to be.
“First and foremost, the state has the best talent pool in the country, with more than 100,000 people (direct and indirect jobs) employed in the life sciences sector,” Brown says. “You have the right brains to run your business right here in New Jersey. Not only do we have one of the most highly ranked K-12 educational systems in the country, we have the No. 1 ranked University in the world (Princeton) and a full series of higher education institutions that are outstanding.
“Besides that, the state has the ancillary businesses that biotechs need, such as the right law, accounting and marketing firms … all of which understand the growing biotech sector in the state.”
Brown doesn’t stop there in discussing New Jersey’s positive business aspects for high-tech companies. She mentions proximity to Manhattan and Philadelphia and mass transportation systems.
“I was speaking with a senior executive from a pharmaceutical company recently, and he said one of the best things about being in New Jersey is that he is just 20 minutes away from Newark Liberty International Airport, so he can quickly get to anywhere he needs to go in the world.”
At BIO International, up to a dozen larger New Jersey-based companies will have their own booths. Smaller companies will be using amenities at the NJ Pavilion, such as pods or stations to set up meetings and display their products and services. The BIO Innovation Theater, located on the first floor of the two-story pavilion, will house a stage and screen and feature a series of panels and presentations by some of the life sciences industry’s top New Jersey executives such as: John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics; Robert K. Prud’homme, professesor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton University; Dr. Kenneth Blank, senior vice president of health sciences at Rowan University; and Dr. Fred Russell Kramer, associate director, business development at the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers University. The second floor will offer an area where executives can hold media interviews.
On the weekend prior to the event, as visitors arrive, Choose New Jersey will be hosting tours into the Garden State. Southern New Jersey destinations will include the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University, with its showpiece Virtual Reality Lab. In Central New Jersey, tours will be taken of Rutgers University (New Brunswick), and its RUCDR Infinite Biologics, the world’s largest university-based biorepository.
Lt. Governor Guadagno will be present not only at the NJ Pavilion, but she will be the host at an evening Prospect Dinner on Tuesday night, June 16.
“If we have particular targets of opportunities at the convention, the Lt. Governor will be pitching New Jersey as a place for those prospective companies to call home,” Brown says.
The state already has leads on the many national and international companies attending the event that it wants to target and attract to New Jersey. “We are sending them invitations asking them to attend our events,” Brown says.
Through connections made during a past trade mission to England, the state is reaching out to One Nucleus, a Cambridge, UK-based international life science and healthcare organization. “Anyone who is coming through One Nucleus will be invited to one of our events. We will also be working with Debbie Hart of BioNJ, who has a long list of people who belong to her organization, to make sure they stop by the pavilion. This is important because besides attracting new businesses, we want to maintain and grow the existing businesses we have in New Jersey.”
Besides the members of the Partnership for Action, the NJ Pavilion will also have representatives from lead New Jersey sponsors, BioNJ and the Healthcare Institute of NJ (HINJ). This means that there will always be staff available to make proper introductions, set up meetings and talk about the benefits of doing business in New Jersey. After the event, there will be an “after-action report” to discuss lead follow up.
Leaders of HINJ and BioNJ are anxiously awaiting the conference.
According to BioNJ’s Hart, “Having the BIO convention right in our backyard is a prodigious opportunity. The NJ Pavilion will be located front and center and will feature many of our industry leaders and innovative academic institutions showcasing New Jersey in meaningful ways.”
Dean Paranicas, HINJ president and CEO, comments, “BIO 2015 presents New Jersey’s life sciences community with a unique opportunity – so close to New Jersey – to showcase our industry and the many assets our home state has to offer. HINJ looks forward to being a member of the state’s team in our pavilion promoting New Jersey as a prime venue for life sciences investment.”
According to Brown, “We have these wonderful organizations dedicated to growing the business community in the state, and part of my mission is to make sure that, even if we are not all precisely singing the same note, we are all singing the same song in terms of promoting the life sciences industry in New Jersey.”