The MCEDC Team Back from BIO


Make History was the theme for this year’s International BIO Convention, which took place in Boston in early June.  More than 17,000 people attended the 4-day event, representing more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, economic development organizations and industry groups from across the U.S. and around the world.

In addition to being the largest BioHealth industry convention, this year’s event also made history in a more offbeat way – by setting a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the Largest Business Partnering Event (look it up, it’s true!).

The 2018 BIO International Convention provided attendees with access to global biotech and pharma leaders via hundreds of education sessions and networking opportunities. Montgomery County is growing as a global innovation hub and the MCEDC team was out in force representing our County: David Petr, President & CEO; Lynne Stein Benzion, Director of Business Retention & Expansion; Spiro Balntas, Director of Business Recruitment; and Nadia Kahn, Business Development Specialist.

Connecting with Local, National and Global Companies: One of the most valuable outcomes was the chance to connect with companies around the corner and across the globe. Our team provided information to many businesses that were exploring opportunities for growth and expansion in our area. With unparalleled assets like the NIH, FDA and HHS, educational partnerships across the County, the smartest workforce and a large cluster of innovative companies, Montgomery County is a prime spot for BioHealth success. Our team also connected with a number of talented individuals seeking positions, whom we will connect to our local companies.

By the Numbers


Montgomery County company connections


Non-Montgomery County connections, including at least 20 that are based internationally


Connections with potential Economic Development partners*



* Including representatives from other countries wishing to partner with MCEDC for inbound and outbound companies establishing a first office in the respective countries.

Business Development Highlights at the BIO International Connection

A Regional Effort: MCEDC exhibited in the Maryland Pavilion along with Biohealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), the Maryland Department of Commerce, PIC-MC, Rockville Economic Development, Inc., Gaithersburg Economic Development, and other economic development agencies. This community effort effectively spread the message that Montgomery County and Maryland are part of a strong Bio Capital region for innovation and growth. In one pavilion location, companies could access multiple business champions.

Maryland Life Sciences Pavilion: The Maryland Tech Council enlarged the state’s presence by assembling a “Maryland Life Sciences” pavilion, where Montgomery County companies including MaxCyte, American Gene Technologies, Novavax, Viela Bio, Remedy Plan exhibited.  The Tech Council also featured its Venture Mentoring Service program, which offers expert team mentoring to technology entrepreneurs.

Local Bio Power: ABL, Inc., Intrexon, AstraZeneca/MedImmune, Kolon TissueGene, IDT Biologika, IQVIA, Technical Resources International, Inc., National Alliance for Caregiving, and Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance all exhibited in the other “zones” on the massive trade show floor. Visitors to the “Contract Services Zone,” the “Large Pharma Zone,” the Patient Advocacy Pavilion, and a number of international pavilions including Australia, Scotland, South Korea and China all found Maryland companies there.

Global Reach from Montgomery County: MCEDC met with many global companies interested in doing business in our region. It was particularly useful to co-exhibit with BHI’s Rich Bendis and Judy Costello, who explained BHI’s soft-landing program for international BioHealth companies.  One of the most interesting services they perform is to help international companies set up U.S. subsidiaries that will enable them to take advantage of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants/partnerships from U.S. federal agencies.  BHI guides companies through the process of setting those companies up correctly so that IP is protected as well. 

Strengthening Local Connections: MCEDC attended the investment pitches of current Montgomery County biotech companies including Tasly Pharmaceuticals, BioMarker Strategies, CASI Pharmaceuticals, Neuralstem, Synthetic Biologics, and Adaptive Phage Therapeutics. MCEDC also provided exhibit hall passes to help local companies such as Social and Scientific, Inc. and Silbiotech to attend the conference.

Investment Opportunities: Our team met with Venture Capitalists interested in the many innovative companies starting and growing in Montgomery County.

The Fast-Moving and Exciting Changes in Health and Science

Names of some of the breakout sessions tell the story of what a great time it is for the BioHealth field:

  • Engineered Living Medicines: The Next Wave of Novel Therapeutics
  • Turning Novel Biology into Investable Innovations
  • Harnessing the Body’s Regenerative Capabilities
  • Precision Medicine Coming of Age
  • Advances in Genome Editing
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Technology is truly changing the path forward in life sciences and health care. Sessions focused heavily on gene therapies, as the first ones have now been approved by the FDA.

One of Many Convention Highlights: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted that super computers are likely to revolutionize clinical trials in the foreseeable future, as we they are capable of screening out irrelevant data.  This will allow a much greater variety of people to participate in trials, which will shorten the patient recruitment time needed.  

Next Stop

From lobster rolls to Philly cheesesteaks – next year’s International Bio Convention will be held in Philadelphia, just a day trip from our prime spot in Montgomery County. We hope to see you there.

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