With the Guinness World Record-qualifying 2018 BIO International Convention behind us, it is time to start planning for 2019. Here are some thoughts based on the recently completed confab:

Reach Trades with Innovation and Future Trends Messages: The annual gathering is an inside-biotech celebration and business development marvel, hence the world record achieved in Boston. Trade publications attend in force, seeking trends and access to industry leaders. Serving up top scientists and executives to those reporters on background, to build relationships as well as for news announcements made in association with the meeting, should be considered.

Embrace the Host Town: The convention is held in cities with vibrant biotech home teams. Next year: Philadelphia. If you are considering an investment in operations in the city and surrounding region, or building enthusiasm among your teams already working hard there, a tie into BIO is the right thing to do. Elected officials are often featured presenters, so get your government affairs team on board. One of the big announcements that received traction this year was the establishment of a nonprofit biotech in the city by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Made at one of the largest global annual biotech gatherings, it was a great launching strategy.

Solving Industry Challenges: The program tracks for the convention reflect the emerging issues, challenges and opportunities facing biotech. Watch for the annual call for submissions, usually issued in September, and propose a panel or speaker who brings expertise and unique perspectives to the table. (It helps if the participants are also BIO members!) If you are lucky enough to get a precious slot on the program, prep your speakers and plan an earned and social media strategy to extend it beyond the meeting.

Business and Advocacy Development: The cornerstone of the convention is business development meetings. Meeting, greeting, networking and dealing are a lot of the fun. At the same time, in addition to business partners, BIO embraces the patient community. Advocacy partnerships and consultations around everything from clinical trial designs to real world evidence to patient engagement can also begin and continue at the convention. Consider engaging with those inside the convention walls as well as those in the meeting host community.

Bring Your Walking Shoes: The massive size of the meeting ensures that all attendees can reach their daily step counts and physical activity goals. Just be sure to weigh vanity vs. comfort when packing for the 2019 meeting.

Lynn Hanessian is chief strategist, Health.

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