This summer ended with two conferences. My calendar year starts at September (once a student, always a student, I guess) and it was nice to meet people and get some fresh ideas for the start. This blog post consists of some thoughts I’d like to share with you. Feel free to comment, tweet or email me if you got some thoughts too!
Next Generation Dx Summit
First of the two conferences was held at Washington DC August 19-21. In the Next Generation Dx Summit the spotlight was at diagnostics. Hot topics were the next generation sequencing (NGS) and reimbursement. We got two examples how companies had been successful in clearing their NGS test for FDA. The reimbursement policy seemed to be that no NGS (or any other) test will be reimbursed if there is no convincing evidence of the clinical utility and the improvement in health outcomes. This will clearly increase the burden on getting new tests to the market, since the analytical evidence that is needed for FDA is not enough anymore. Also the studies of the clinical utility and improvements to the patient treatment and outcome must be shown.
Different kind of lateral flow chips and point-of-care instruments were also on display from both US and Europe. So it was good place to network with the compound and test manufacturers while listening the FDA officers and health insurance company leaders. Even though plate readers are not POC instruments, they are usually needed at the start of the lateral flow assay development, thanks to their automation capacity and larger amount of samples that can be run on the plate than in the chip. The optical detection principles among plate readers and those POCT instruments that use optical detection are the same. And as we know the laboratory instruments inside and out, we know what we can do to the size and costs to turn the plate reader performance into small and robust POCT device.
The second conference was annual HealthBIO summit August 27th and it was held 7 minutes from our office at the Mauno Koivisto Centre in Biocity, Turku. And going there felt like going to own office, so many familiar and friendly faces. I would definitely suggest this as #1 event in Finland, if one is looking for networking with Finnish companies from diagnostics, pharma or medical devices field. And why not foreign too, since Becton, Dickinson & Co was also present. Their examples of how to fund new technologies and what kind of different models they had for that really got everyone’s interest.
Tero Piispanen from Turku Science Park had gathered interesting financial figures about new companies (15 new since last meeting), financial markets (sad figures of Finland’s share compared “to other well know bioscience countries like Romania”) and the importance of biotechnology to Finland’s economy (large, Orion and Bayer being 6th and 2nd biggest corporate tax payers). And even speaker from the sponsor of the event (Kolster) caught my attention. European unitary patent and unified patent court are coming, if the agreement will survive the ratification process. In the future we need to reconsider our patenting strategy, especially if we want to opt out our patents from the unified patent court.
The program was full of interesting insights on biotechnology, both in Finland, Europe and US. But even though the great speakers and great topics, my vote for the best hours of the summit goes to get-together-evening and dinner. It was great to talk with others about their plans for the future and witness that the buzz around bio is real and companies are developing new and entering new markets.