The Philadelphia Convention Center is awash with devices, large and small molecules, bio-generators and an endless stream of technologies I can’t hope to explain. Over 17,000 people are here to hear about the latest innovations, inventions, discoveries and ideas, but mostly they hope to make deals. Most American states and industrialized countries are here touting their technology strengths. Even some small island nations have booths declaring that they are “the new biotech hub.” BIO 2015 is essentially a trade show, but instead of cars or computers, the commodity is whatever can be commercialized from last year’s scientific discovery or engineering feat. Some outfits are toddlers in the business of science - start up companies with a handful of people, recently capitalized and looking for larger partners or clients. Others are high tech service organizations seeking contracts. Then there are the giant tech and pharma firms, benevolently offering coffee or snacks in their yard-sized pavilions.
Minnesota is here, too, anchored by Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, along with a dozen or so companies from agri-genomics to intellectual property firms. A video display shows research labs and key statistics on one screen and on another, flashes futuristic images of Rochester’s Destination Medical Center or DMC. Also on display are Mayo Clinic's key translational centers: Individualized Medicine, Regenerative Medicine and the Science of Health Care Delivery. The goal is similar to everyone else’s goal – to raise awareness, meet and greet, and make contacts that may help down the road. Someone said it simply yesterday, that this is what happens to science after the lab. One more thing that’s underscored here – that’s how small the world has become. The short distance that separates Minnesota from the European Community on this exhibit floor is symbolic of how close things really are thanks to technology, communications and relatively fast transportation. We are all competitive, all growing and looking over each other’s shoulders at the same time. The only difference is that the EU is giving out free espresso.