More than 100 business developers and other decision makers from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and investors gathered for two days in Dresden at the 8th European Business Development Conference organized by the German Biotechnology Industry Organization, BIO Deutschland. “Big deals, big data, better drugs” was the topic of this year’s conference that was also accompanied by an exhibition on IT-solutions for the Life Sciences industry’s Big Data and e-health projects. Nigel Sheail, Head of Global Business Development & Licensing (BD&L) at Bayer HealthCare in his opening keynote shed light on the corporation’s approach to tailored partnering solutions and the open innovation family of Bayer. He also forecasted a strong future for partnerships and specialists for BD&L in general.


The first conference day focused on how business development can adopt new strategies to adapt to changing markets. Representatives of Janssen, Sanofi-Aventis and SAP discussed the various challenges ranging from human resources to the efficient, accurate and safe handling of big data. Software solutions are already dominating biomarker development as well as clinical studies. E-health, though promising, will still take some time to really enter the market on a broader scale, the panelists agreed.


Representatives of various capital venture firms like Life Science Partners and Sofinnova Partners, analysts and Florian Fischer, chief financial officer of Affimed, a German biotech that just went public on NASDAQ, described ways out of the enduring financial funding crisis of the European and particularly the German biotech industry. Simon Harnest of the investor relations firm Trout Group emphasized that building a network in the US is key to get into the overseas market and to gain the trust of investors there. Disagreement among the panelist existed around the question whether enough money was available for the industry.


Joern-Peter Halle, member of the Pharmaceutical Executive Committee Merck Serono, presented in his keynote the corporation’s vision for 2018. He explained the various approaches to boost innovation beyond the drug such as introducing medical devices to improve the efficacy of well established blockbusters. “We have a strong portfolio through successful partnerships”, he also emphasized the value of cooperation with biotech and medtech enterprises.


The second day of the conference was dominated by scientific topics such as immune-intervention where leading experts of Bavarian-Nordic, Morphosys, Prima BioMed and Roche gave their view on how immune-intervention will change medicine. The final session of the conference focused on the hot topic of biologics and biosimilars. Major producers of biosimilars like Boehringer Ingelheim and Sandoz exchanged views with biologic developers like Merck and a regulatory expert of the association European Pharmaceutical Enterprises about the future of biosimilars and in which cases they can really replace original biologics.


The conference was supported by biosaxony and the city of Dresden. Merck Serono and SAP supported the event as gold sponsors, Bayer and Janssen as silver sponsors.