NZBio Conference 2009: 9th-11th March

This year’s NZBio conference is approaching fast. The programme has been set and the nominations are rolling in for the various awards.

Looking at the programme there are three sessions of particular interest to me are:

  1. Strategies for commercialisation in a changing world Tuesday 10th 11.30am
  2. Fund Raising in a Capital Constrained Economy Tuesday 10th 2pm
  3. Can NZ be a Real Competitor in the Global Bioeconomy Wednesday 11th 8.30am.
  • To add to this, the On the Couch session ‘ The Future of the Bioeconomy’ on Wednesday 11th 1.45pm will no doubt provide some heated discussion and interesting perspectives.

While I am at the conference I hope to generate some content for my blog. Whether it will be session notes, written perspectives or video interviews (or a mixture) is yet to be decided.

Speaker List – Great for getting to know a lot about NZ’s key industry players (people and organisations).

NZBio Awards – Nominations closing this Friday

  • The Ross Clark Distinguished Biotechnologist of the Year Award
  • 2009 NZBIO Young Biotechnologist of the Year Award (Replacing Emerging Biotechnologist of the Year)
  • NZBIO 2009 Emerging Company of the Year (Replacing Deal of the Year)

Student Poster Competition – Abstract/ Application Deadline 20th Feb

  • Note the new selection criteria for this competition. Only the top 5 from each region will go forward to present their poster at the conference. In previous years the finalists have been chosen from one pool irrespective of geographical location. I understand that this is an attempt to penetrate other regions (other than Auckland) more thoroughly to obtain greater national representation, but considering the University of Auckland alone consistently represents over 50% of the displayed 25+ posters at the conference this might impose certain consequences. 1- it is an anti-competitive structure which might possibly effect the quality of posters displayed at the conference, 2- insufficient numbers in some regions, 3 – increased costs for NZBio as they provide two nights accommodation for all presenters outside the Auckland region. Whatever happens hopefully UoA, more specifically Chiasma members, can maintain its/their winning streak.

Chiasma will be out in force during the conference so be sure to have a chat with one of us at least. We will be assisting the NZBio conference organisers with conference logistics etc so you’ll no doubt spot us at the registration desk or at our own booth (#21). In addition to our committee members (the ones helping out ),  a collection of our student members will also be attending through Chiasma’s conference sponsorship programme. This year I will personally be seeking to encourage the start-up of other ‘Chiasmas’ at other universities.

A speed bump

Last year, on the opening of conference registration I was shocked to see that the registration rates for students had increased to $295 for earlybird registration after which it increased to $450. In previous years it had been a flat rate of $150. Doubling or tripling this seemed a bit extreme and counterproductive.

In comparison to other similarly sized events in the same field such as AusBiotech 2008 these new rates were comparable. However were these organisations actually sufficiently engaging students at these higher rates?

Conducting a quick piece of research I found that out of the 1327 delegates to attend AusBiotech 2008 less than 1% were student. To add salt to the wound a third of these were actually sponsored Bioscience Enterprise students from the University of Auckland in Australia undertaking their Masters internship. The NZBio 2008 Conference on the other hand achieved a student engagement of >10%. Yes that’s right we are doing something better than the Aussies. Increasing the price seems like a very efficient method for what I think is a competitive advantage for the organisation and NZ’s bioeconomy in general.

After taking this matter further a sufficient compromised was reached permitting a bulk registration discounted price of $225.

____________________________

Graeme @ graemefielder.com

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