Delaware DNA

Delaware’s DNA life sciences conference returns after boffo debut

Betsy PriceBusiness, Headlines

Delaware DNA

About 300 people packed the inaugural Delaware’s DNA Life Science Conference last year, and it returns May 9 at UD’s Clayton Hall.

A wildly successful state biosciences conference returns this year when Delaware’s DNA returns May 9.

Sponsored by Delaware BIO, last year’s conference was notable for its energetic vibe, notable speakers and visible networking.

“That was the first time we’d ever put on a full day event like that, focused on really highlighting and showcasing the depth and breadth of the Delaware life sciences ecosystem,” said Michael Fleming, president of Delaware BIO.

It has a mission to act as a catalyst for innovation in the biosciences, a sector of the economy important to Delaware’s economic future for both jobs and manufacturing.

Delaware DNA is believed to be the region’s largest bioscience conference and about one-third of the attendees were from eight other states.

This year’s program, dubbed Delaware’s DNA: 2024 Life Science Conference, will take place May 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall in Newark.

Fleming says topics will range from the state of the industry, where the life sciences sector is from an investment standpoint, what kind of risks and challenges bio companies face, hot trends and what new technologies and science are transforming the sector and the development of new medicines and other products.

The 2023 version attracted 300 people, including local and regional life science executives, investors, new businesses, researchers and policymakers with sessions that included a mix of panels, breakout sessions and presentations.

One remarkable thing about the panels was that people didn’t shy away from topics, including dealing with younger workers who didn’t share the Baby Boomer view of what working meant, and speakers didn’t mind presenting differing opinions.

There was even some humor. After Gov. John Carney opened the conference last year, one panelist told the crowd that when he was in college he had dated a woman from Delaware. She had broken up with him to date a guy named Carney. That made him kind of nervous, he said.

Gluing it all together was a conference app that allowed attendees to contact each other directly to set up meetings.

“Ultimately, the conference will offer something valuable for everyone involved in the life sciences from across the region, be they entrepreneurs, investors, researchers or business people,” Fleming said. “One of our key goals is that we really want to do as much as we can in terms of nurturing the ecosystem to develop stronger relationships and visibility of capabilities between business and academic, nonprofit and university researchers.”

Organizers expect about the same number of people to attend the 2024 conference.

Delaware’s DNA addition

New this year will be an Innovation and Investor Showcase Powered by the Innovation Space featuring presentation from some of the region’s most innovative, fast-growing companies including Prelude Therapeutics, Nikang Therapeutics and Uvax Bio.

The Showcase will include reverse pitches from top life science investors including BioAdvance, Robin Hood Ventures, UD’s University Launch Fund and The Innovation Space’s First Fund.

“That’s going to be really different,” Fleming said.

 Innovation Space CEO Bill Provine said he was excited to collaborate with Delaware DNA. His company, which has more than 130,000 square feet of state-of-the-art multi-use lab space,  is designed to stimulate scientific entrepreneurship and tackle next-generation problems as well as foster scientific advances, economic development, and job creation. 

“This is an ideal opportunity to collaborate to showcase some of Delaware and the region’s most impressive early-stage life science businesses and make important connections with the investors who are so critical to their success,” Provine said.

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The conference is moving this year to Clayton Hall in Newark so it can take advantage of the number of rooms there for breakout and networking sessions.

“There will be ongoing parallel tracks of activity underway at the same time,” Fleming said, “so it’ll give attendees the opportunity to determine how they want to use their time.”

The extra space also enables Delaware DNA to create an exhibition hall where exhibitors, businesses, research institutions or sponsors will be able to set up tables about their work.

“During breaks folks will be able to kind of cruise through those rooms and meet the exhibitors, hear about their capabilities, their products, their services,” Fleming said. “We’re really excited about that. It’s a good opportunity to promote a lot of the businesses that we work with throughout the year that support and have expertise in serving the life science sector, as well as life science companies.”

Delaware DNA will kick off with an in-depth industry assessment from McKinsey Senior Partner Olivier Leclerc.

Other panelists and presenters will include IQVIA Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Andrew Ploszay, Aisling Capital Founder Dennis Purcell, National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) Director Kelvin Lee, Institute for Engineering Driven Health Director Jill Higginson, Maryland Tech Council CEO Kelly Schulz and Kathy Wu of the University of Delaware’s Data Science Institute.

A non-member ticket costs $595 and includes breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception with top shelf open bar. For agenda details, to purchase tickets or set up a sponsorship, go here.


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