Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Georgia Welcomes 2009 BIO International Convention to Atlanta

State’s bioscience assets on center stage at world’s largest biosciences gathering

Governor Sonny Perdue welcomed the 2009 BIO International Convention to Atlanta yesterday. 2009 BIO takes place May 18 through May 21 and is expected to draw up to 15,000 industry professionals in the biosciences, one of Georgia’s fastest-growing industries.

“Bioscience is one of Georgia’s strategic industries, and hosting the 2009 BIO International Convention is an unparalleled opportunity for the state and our many partners,” said Governor Perdue. “Georgia’s bioscience resources embody the convention theme, ‘Heal, Fuel, Feed the World,’ and the executives who come to Georgia will get a first-hand look at our state’s strong industry assets, including our global reach, vast reserves of talent and our commitment to collaboration.”

This year marks the first time a Southeastern U.S. city has hosted the BIO International Convention, one of the most significant business conferences in the world. About 70 percent of the attendees are C-level executives, and one-third of the registrants are international. Sixty countries and 48 states will be represented at the convention. In addition to a business forum, exhibition hall, and full schedule of educational programming, BIO activities include a diversity summit, career fair, entrepreneurship bootcamp, conference on biotechnology education, translational research forum and leadership summit.

The biosciences industry is one of the bright lights in Georgia’s economy. It had a significant economic impact in Georgia in 2007, according to the “Shaping Infinity” report released recently by the University of Georgia and Georgia BIO:

· 17,941 jobs in life sciences companies
· 62,033 jobs in all industries (including life sciences)
· $16 billion in output
· $6.2 billion in state GDP
· $3.6 billion in labor income
· $517 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.

In addition, life sciences research at the state’s colleges and universities generated $1.3 billion in output and nearly 15,000 jobs in fiscal year 2006.

“The bioscience industry is important to Georgia because it creates high-wage jobs and clean-tech economies and is a leading driver of innovation,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “As part of our long-running strategic drive to build our reputation as a major hub for the biosciences, we will take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase our great strengths to the most important audience in the industry.”

As host of the convention, Georgia has a tremendous opportunity to brand the state as a biotech hub and grants state leaders access to industry decision-makers. The state is hosting 32 Georgia universities, companies and agencies in a 5,400-square-foot in its exhibit hall booth (see list at end of release). Activities at the Georgia Pavilion will include business meetings, press conferences and demonstrations of iResearchGeorgia, a newly-launched online database of published papers, patents, faculty profiles and grants associated with Georgia’s universities. In addition, the pavilion will feature a Coca-Cola fountain, exhibitor give-aways and a drawing for a new KIA Soul on May 20 at 3 p.m.

The state has a strong presence elsewhere at the conference as well. Governor Perdue will receive the “BIO Governor of the Year” award from BIO president Jim Greenwood at the keynote luncheon, which features part-time Atlantan Sir Elton John of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. More than 30 bioscience business leaders and scientists from Georgia will participate in sessions and panels throughout the conference. These sessions will include the most pressing issues of the biotechnology industry, including workforce development, climate change and biofuels and healthcare access.

In addition, Johnny Fells, a senior from Northside High School in Warner Robins, is a finalist in the sanofi-aventis International BioGENEius Challenge, a competition for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development has led a multi-year marketing campaign to build awareness of and investment in Georgia’s bioscience industry, targeted for growth in 2004 by the Commission for a New Georgia. Governor Perdue attended the 2008 BIO convention in San Diego and the state has participated in numerous bioscience industry-related conferences and has hosted international business and media delegations focused on the life sciences. Hosting the conference in Atlanta opens the door for the city’s possible inclusion in the BIO conference’s regular rotation of host cities.
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