Bio-Europe Spring will be first test for virtual partnering

Large scale virtual partnering in the age of COVID-19 will get its initial test at the first big European partnering event of the year, Bio-Europe Spring.

The conference, which was to be held in Paris March 23-25 and host more than 2,000 attendants, is being shifted to a virtual meeting March 23-27 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The event will now feature prerecorded company presentations and panels, and live virtual one-to-one meetings.

The loss of face-to-face meetings -- the hallway introductions and long-term relationship-building that are the lifeblood of biopharma’s conferences -- could negatively affect small biotechs looking to partner or raise new money (see “Hidden Consequences of COVID-19: Why Small Biotechs Can’t Just Wait This One Out”).

It is not the first life sciences meeting to cancel or postpone due to the threat of COVID-19 and is unlikely to be the last. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) said Thursday that the organization is considering holding virtual presentations or postponing its annual meeting in light of the outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions imposed by participating academic groups and pharma companies. The meeting -- one of the more important cancer conferences on the calendar -- is scheduled for April 24-29 in San Diego.

BIO’s annual slate of conferences brings in 44% of the organization’s revenue, while AACR’s meetings and workshops account for about 25% of revenue.

Neither BIO nor the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) responded in time for publication to email requests to comment on whether they were considering virtual meetings for their annual conferences.

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