It all started with beer.
In the late 19th century, beer and steel production were among the top industries in Germany. Efforts were put into developing industrial fermentation with the goal of increasing the food (including beer) supply. The field of study was named zymotechnology. A Hungarian agricultural engineer, Karoly Ereky, later coined the term biotechnology to identify his process for the industrial farming of pigs. Over time, biotechnology moved from a focus on fermentation to today’s focus on genetic engineering.
None of this could have happened without investors willing to risk fortunes to develop new products to improve life. And none could have occurred without lawyers working with scientists and investors to build businesses, protect research through patents and enforcement, and design laws that protect the research and prevent abuse.
But, nationally and internationally, the conversation has lacked an opportunity to bring these three key communities together to understand their connections, learn from one another the challenges and opportunities each faces, and build the relationships necessary to advance more rapidly.
Until now. In May 2016, the first Biotech and the Law Global Conference and Expo, sponsored by State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE®, will take place in Madison at the Monona Terrace Conference Center and other sites. Presenters from across the United States and numerous other countries, including the Netherlands, Australia, and England, will offer perspectives on biotechnology. Moderated discussions with key actors in the health care, environmental, and agriculture sectors will focus on the challenges and opportunities of doing business globally, and there will be hands-on experiences and excursions to nearby biotech laboratories.
Participants will … understand the opportunities and challenges scientists face as research begins, how business people work to turn the research results into a business, and how the law and lawyers interact with all of it at each stage.
In other words, this conference is not just talking heads. Participants will spend time with each other to truly understand the opportunities and challenges scientists face as research begins, how business people turn the research results into a business, and the role of the law and lawyers at each stage. As Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) notes, “This conference will address the challenges, and the people attending the conference will share the solutions that work for them.”
Zymotechnology remains a field of study within biotechnology. Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, founded in 1872, is the oldest research and teaching institution for brewing in the United States. Thus, it is entirely appropriate that the Biotechnology and the Law Global Conference occurs during Craft Beer Week in Madison. One destination for conference participants, besides biomarkers, genetic cloning, and DNA sequencing tabs, is a local brewery.
Wisconsin is a major site for biotechnology. Some Wisconsinites fear that the only things people outside our state know about us is beer and cheese and that this short sightedness prevents people from understanding the dramatic roles that biotechnology plays in the Wisconsin economy and that Wisconsin plays in the national and international biotechnology community. But all three, Wisconsin, beer, and biotechnology, are linked through time just as this conference will link science, business, and the law.
Join us in this important dialog. Learn more at www.biotechandthelaw.org.