07/06/2004

Northern Ireland group on global biotechnology mission

Northern Ireland is being represented by a group of technology companies and leading university researchers at what has been described as ‘the largest biotechnology gathering ever'.

The companies and delegates from NI are attending the BIO 2004 Annual International Convention, which runs from June 6 to 9 in San Francisco.

Four companies – Arragen, Craigavon; Fusion Antibodies and MDS Pharma, both Belfast-based; and Randox Laboratories, Crumlin – are exhibiting at the event with Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster on an Invest Northern Ireland stand.

A further two companies, Amtec Medical/Linkubator, Antrim, and Science Stream, Coleraine, are visiting the convention to take part in a range of workshops and networking events that are an integral part of the programme.

Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, is leading the Northern Ireland BIO 2004 group as part of an Invest NI trade mission to San Francisco and Denver - a mission supported by Invest NI’s Technology and Development Centre in Denver.

Ms Meharg said: "As biotechnology is now one of Northern Ireland’s fast developing business sectors it is essential that our companies and expertise should be presented at events such as BIO 2004 which will help companies to identify new business opportunities, including strategic alliances and partnerships, and also to keep abreast of changes in technology and techniques.

“In addition, our presentation will help to highlight the expertise that’s readily available, especially in Northern Ireland university centres, for US and other international companies seeking a supportive location for research projects.

“It is important for us to set out the stall for Northern Ireland in San Francisco because California is the centre of biotech research in the US."

California has 450 bio-tech companies, mostly grouped around San Francisco. Overall, the US biotech industry employs 200,000 people and this is projected to grow by 15% over the next 12 months.

BIO 2004 is expected to attract over 17,000 representatives from almost 60 countries. Attendees have access to a day-long programme of seminars, networking events and the international exhibition featuring 1,375 displays.

The workshops included examinations of the latest research on stem cells, anti-cancer projects and genomics.

The exhibition features 29 international pavilions and one-third of attendees are from countries outside the US, including China, Japan and the UK.

(SP)

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