Oct. 18, 2017 – Hundreds of entrepreneurs, company executives, investors, scientists, researchers, and policymakers gathered at the 20th Annual BioFlorida Conference to celebrate two decades of advancing Florida’s life sciences. Leaders from the biopharmaceutical, medical technology, and health IT communities had the opportunity to showcase recent achievements, discuss the future of the industry, and explore high-impact public policy initiatives.
“In the two decades since this conference was founded, Florida has built a robust and diverse life sciences ecosystem that supports 83,000 direct jobs with an average salary of almost $78,000 across nearly 6,000 establishments,” said Nancy K. Bryan, President and CEO of BioFlorida. “The industry is a major economic driver in our state with continued innovation and growth on the horizon, and the conference unites leaders to celebrate achievements while providing invaluable opportunities to advance the scientific and business goals of our industry.”
The conference addressed distinct areas of strength for Florida’s life science industry such as medical technology, regenerative medicine, orphan drugs, oncology, diabetes, and marine biotechnology. Attendees also gained insights from industry experts on how to grow their businesses, with dedicated sessions on business development, funding, and commercialization.
Seed and early stage companies participated in the BioPitch competition, which provided opportunities for coaching, as well as presentations to investors for feedback and potential funding. The four semi-finalists included Alertgy(Daytona Beach), FloSpine (Boca Raton), Interpares Biomedicine (Land O’Lakes) and Jupiter Orphan Technologies(Jupiter)—with Interpares Biomedicine, an early-stage medical therapeutics company focused on providing personalized medicine solutions to inform cancer immunotherapy decisions, winning the top recognition.
The Spotlight on Innovation session featured four companies that have achieved major milestones: Intezyne Technologies (Tampa), Lakewood-Amedex (Sarasota), TapImmune (Jacksonville), and Altor BioScience (Miramar).
BioFlorida also recognized individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements across four distinct categories. This year’s award recipients include:
David J. Gury Company of the Year Award
The Company of the Year is designated for a company or organization that has had significant achievements leading to the advancement of the life sciences in Florida.
The 2017 David J. Gury Company of the Year Award was presented to Karen Zaderej, President and CEO of AxoGen, a recognized global leader in innovative surgical solutions for peripheral nerve injuries. AxoGen is the leading company focused specifically on the science, development, and commercialization of technologies for peripheral nerve regeneration and repair.
AxoGen’s Avance® Nerve Graft is based on technology developed at the University of Florida and has benefitted thousands of patients, including soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, AxoGen received approval to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Exchange and has experienced 26 consecutive quarters of year-over-year double-digit growth and reported a record $15.2 million in revenue in the second quarter of 2017—representing 46 percent growth over 2016.
Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has made extraordinary contributions to the growth of life sciences in the leadership of a company or institution.
The 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Hing C. Wong, Ph.D, Founder and CEO of Miramar-based Altor BioScience, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.
Wong founded Altor BioScience in 2002 as a spinoff of Sunol Molecular Corporation (Sunol). With more than 30 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, Wong held previous positions as Director at Baxter International Inc. and Cetus Corporation. The company recently announced that it has merged with a California-based biotechnology company, NantCell, in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. The company has initiated over 15 Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials for solid and hematologic malignancies and HIV from its lead candidate, an interleukin-15 (IL-15) complex (ALT-803). Among its many achievements is the company’s recent “Fast Track” designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its ALT-803 in combination with bacillus Calmette-Guérin for the treatment of patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.
BioFlorida Leadership Award
The BioFlorida Leadership Award is designated for a BioFlorida volunteer who has taken on a leadership role, dedicated significant time to the mission, and has served as a true ambassador for the organization.
The 2017 BioFlorida Leadership Award was presented this week at the BioFlorida Conference to Gina Alexis, President and Co-Founder of The Alexis Group Consultants, a Hallandale Beach-based full-service marketing communications company that specializes in the life sciences.
Alexis is a former Board Member and past Chair of BioFlorida, and currently serves as Chair of the Southeast Chapter. Alexis has been integral to BioFlorida since its formation and has led efforts on behalf of BioFlorida’s Southeast Chapter to spearhead innovative programming, including Life Science Career Connections and the South Florida Life Science Showcase.
BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award
The 2017 BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for recognizing an individuals’ outstanding leadership in the industry throughout their career that has significantly contributed to the growth of the industry.
The 2017 recipient of the BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to H. Lee Moffitt, the founder of Moffitt Cancer Center.
With a commitment and vision to build a best-in-class cancer treatment center in Florida, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute officially opened in October of 1986, three years after its groundbreaking. Thousands of individuals have been affected by Moffitt’s commitment as a leader in the life sciences community, and as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and later, Speaker of the House. Under Moffit’s leadership, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention, and cancer control.
Florida’s life sciences industry will unite again in Tallahassee at #BioFLDay2018, BioFlorida’s Legislative Day on January 16and 17 in Tallahassee. The 2018 BioFlorida Conference will be held October 14 to 16 at The Westin Fort Lauderdale. To find details or register for upcoming BioFlorida events please visit, www.BioFlorida.com.