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Top 4 takeaways from the 2024 BIO International Convention

Jun 20th, 2024

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It’s fair to say that innovation is the norm in healthcare, but few fields can claim more rapid transformation than biotechnology. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering, precision medicine, and microbiology continuously invigorate the industry and create opportunities in applications outside of healthcare, from manufacturing to food science to the energy sector and beyond.

For those of us interested in keeping up with the most cutting-edge advancements in biotechnology, the BIO International Convention remains the destination of the summer. This year, Definitive Healthcare joined industry leaders, policymakers, and biotech innovators in San Diego for BIO 2024.

Over four days, our team held wide-ranging conversations with more than 150 biotech executives, researchers, and legal experts. We also attended dozens of sessions covering just about every aspect of the industry you can imagine, led by some of the biggest names in biotech.

If you missed the event, you missed a lot—but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the recap. Keep reading to learn about the four biggest takeaways from the 2024 BIO International Convention.

1. Biotech is crossing new therapeutic frontiers

Advancements in gene therapy, precision medicine, and immunotherapy were focal points of our one-on-one conversations as well as key topics of several sessions. We learned that doctors are using patients’ antibodies to predict their potential reactions to diseases and immunotherapies, and heard about new technologies enabling neuroscientists to personalize the treatment of brain disorders.

With advancements like these, biotech is boldly crossing new frontiers—both scientifically and geographically.

For instance, a number of exciting new cell and gene therapies promise improved patient outcomes in oncology, neurology, and other medical fields, as well as business opportunities across the therapeutic landscape. But barriers to manufacturing and supply chain development have often limited the availability of advanced treatments to the western world, leaving Asia, Africa, and South America vastly underserved. Sessions like “Accelerating the Globalization of Cell and Gene Therapies” highlighted the industry’s dedication to improving access to these life-saving therapies worldwide.

National and continental borders aren’t the only barriers to the realization of biotech’s therapeutic potential. In “Lessons from the Oregon Trail: Pioneering Gene Therapy in the Real World,” healthcare leaders discussed the difficulty of transforming one-off successes in clinical trials into real-world, potentially lifelong treatments in commercial settings.

2. AI and digital health technologies are reshaping the industry

The integration of AI and digital technologies in healthcare continues to transform diagnostics, patient care, and data management. But AI and machine learning (ML) are also revolutionizing the pre-commercial aspects of the life sciences, especially research and development.

The sessions “New Tools, New Times: Chemical and Structural AI for Drug Discovery” and “AI-Generated Invention and the Future of Bio R&D” showed BIO 2024 attendees how innovative applications of AI could lead to the development of new therapeutic molecules while presenting new challenges to aging intellectual property laws and manufacturing standards.

If, for example, a generative AI system invents a new therapy without input from an identifiable human developer, who gets the patent? And how do researchers approach the development of an AI-generated molecule that seems to defy our modern understanding of chemistry?

Other sessions highlighted the potential of AI in automating biotech development from discovery through commercialization. As AI lowers the barriers to development, companies are increasingly finding competitive advantages in data and information as well as traditional sources like talent and capital.

3. Biotech companies need new strategies (and good investor relations) to survive the fickle financial climate

Data and information may be the new currency of biotech, but capital management remains a critical component of any successful company’s operational strategy. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that BIO 2024 was abuzz with conversations around where to get and how best to spend precious funding.

No company is immune to market turbulence, but startups tend to face the biggest hurdles. Several sessions focused on fundraising strategies specifically for these new market entrants. In “Surviving Turbulence: Extending Runway and Creating Value in Healthcare and Biotech”, venture investors offered advice for creative capital generation and operating more efficiently while spending less.

Sessions like “All Money is NOT Created Equal” and “Brick-by-Brick: Building a Biotech from Foundation Up with Venture Investor Company Formation” delivered a detailed look at the varying roles of angel investors, venture capital firms, and corporate strategic investors play in supporting biotech startups and reducing risk from foundation through financial independence. There was also plenty of discussion about how startups can maintain and incentivize these critical relationships.

Additionally, the “Investors’ Perspectives” panel gave some top-down insight into what investors are looking for in digital health investments, and how companies can re-align to maximize their investor appeal.

4. The regulatory and policy outlook is as hazy as ever

As healthcare technology evolves at breakneck pace, regulators and policymakers are doing their best to keep up. New rules in the U.S. and abroad present challenges as well as opportunities to the biotech industry.

We already mentioned the revolutionary impact of AI on biotech R&D, patient care, and the regulatory landscape itself.  Sessions like “AI and Regulatory Innovation in Healthcare: Shaping the Future” showcased the potential roadblocks presented by newly minted AI regulations, as well as some benefits, like improved compliance and accelerated approvals.

In other sessions and conversations, we heard plenty about frustrations over lack of clarity in public policy, and how unclear regulations are hindering investment and innovation. While directors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were in attendance and presented an informative townhall on agency priorities, staffing, and key initiatives, plenty of uncertainties remain—especially for organizations operating across national borders.

Get a little clarity with healthcare commercial intelligence

Even if you made it to BIO 2024, you probably left with just as many questions as answers—we certainly did. That’s part of the fun of working in a cutting-edge industry.

The right healthcare intelligence can help clear things up, especially at the level of the discrete markets in which you’re operating. The Definitive Healthcare platform combines data, analytics, and expertise to deliver powerful intelligence and real-time insights on the patients, providers, facilities, and therapies that matter most to your business.

Sign up for a demo today and see how our solutions can help your organization achieve its goals in the face of evolving technologies, complicated regulatory frameworks, and increasingly competitive markets.

Alex Card

About the Author

Alex Card

Alex Card is a senior content writer at Definitive Healthcare. His work has been cited in Becker's Hospital Review, Forrester Research, HealthTech, Insider Intelligence, and…

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