MidWest Drug Development Conference hits mark

by Charlie Litton, UNeMed | November 27, 2019

Image with caption: Matt Boehm, Ph.D. (left), UNeMed's director of licensing,   meets with industry representatives during the MidWest Drug Development Conference last month in Omaha.

Matt Boehm, Ph.D. (left), UNeMed's director of licensing, meets with industry representatives during the MidWest Drug Development Conference last month in Omaha.

The second MidWest Drug Development Conference (MDDC) held last month was another resounding success.

Hosted by UNeMed, UNMC's technology transfer office, the conference featured 42 technology presentations from 18 midwestern universities and 30 different companies and investor groups. An estimated 240 one-on-one partnering meetings were held during the two-day event, opening the door to additional opportunities for each participating university.

"We got a lot of value out of the conference, and I've had nothing but positive feedback from just about everyone I talked to," said Matt Boehm, Ph.D., the event coordinator and UNeMed's director of licensing.

Dr. Boehm conducted 17 one-on-one partnering meetings, resulting in ongoing conversations that may yet lead to further development for UNMC innovations.

"That's exactly what we want this conference to do," UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., said. "New therapies, treatments and cures are the kind of things that can grow out of those deeper conversations. And, honestly, there's a huge blind spot for the innovation that happens in the Midwest, and we really want this conference to help change that. Not just for us in Nebraska, but for all our friends in the region."

An estimated 111 people attended the conference. About half were researchers, inventors and other university representatives. The remainder were largely representatives of pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies or venture capital groups.

Among the represented pharmaceutical companies were Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim and Otsuka. Among the represented venture capital firms were Atlas Ventures, Abbvie Ventures, Rivervest Ventures and 5AM Ventures.

The mix of attendees created an ideal environment for university innovators to meet and build new relationships with industry, according to comments provided by conference goers who participated in a post-event survey.

"This is the single most important partnering event to cover academic institutions across the Midwest," said an industry representative who attended the event.

Attendees from the university side were equally positive about the event.

"We have entered into early licensing negotiations with nearly all of the connections made at the MDDC," said one university representative. "The opportunity to share portfolios and initiate conversations has been valuable, leading to ongoing discussions on a number of technologies."

Another university representative added: "To a person, the industry people I talked with -- both in one-on-one meetings and in casual conversations -- stated that they valued the chance to meet in one place, engage with a number of tech transfer offices; and see the number, variety and breadth of technologies."

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