Greetings from sunny San Diego, site of this year’s annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. I will try to post a few dispatches from the conference because I find that it hosts a truly unique intersection of multiple industries (drugs, agriculture, and energy), academia, and government. It’s also something of a circus. Every state wants to attract that next big biotech firm to boost its economic development and is hoping to promote the biotech “cluster” that already exists in its area. As such, the conference is flush with cocktail parties, giveaways, and myriad forms of reverie as state representatives try to woo attendees. This translates into the best swag I’ve seen at any conference around, not to mention an abundance of spending that makes me wonder how taxpayers in, say, Iowa, would feel about the excess.
The exhibit floor opened at 3 PM today, and as I walked to a meeting at a company’s booth at 3:30 PM, people were already walking around with armfuls of goodies. We’re not talking pens and buttons or raffles for an iPod shuffle. We’re talking basketballs and Crocs and the chance to win mountain bikes and trips to Europe. It’s pretty insane. If you’ve been to a meeting with better “prizes,” let us know in the comments!