Alabama biotech leaders build ties on Europe trade mission

Alabama biotech leaders build ties on Europe trade mission
A 22-member Alabama business delegation last week visited the COBIS bioscience park in Copenhagen, Denmark, which stands in the heart of the Medicon bioscience cluster.(Contributed)

Leaders in Alabama’s life sciences industry arrived in Denmark late last week for the second leg of a trade mission aimed at seeking new markets in Europe for their products and encouraging new investment in the state sector.

The 22-member delegation, which included representatives from across Alabama, had just wrapped up a successful three-day stay in Germany, where they met with other bioscience businesses, medical organizations and trade experts.

“We look forward to encouraging even more partnerships with colleagues here in Europe,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This is a prime opportunity for Alabama’s life sciences industry to grow, not just in overseas markets but also in new investments back home.”

While in Denmark, the Alabama trade mission team, led by Canfield, participated in seminars, developed contacts through networking sessions and delivered presentations on the state’s thriving bioscience scene.

The group visited the Copenhagen Bioscience Park (COBIS), a facility in the heart of Denmark’s Medicon Valley bio-cluster that is home to numerous labs, startups and mid-sized companies.The team returned to Alabama on Saturday.

Fostering collaboration

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield speaks in Berlin during the first leg of an Alabama bio-focused trade mission to Germany and Denmark. (CS Germany)

Hilda Lockhart, director of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s International Trade Division, said the team had many discussions on future collaborative projects while in Europe. “As we found during the briefings and presentations by the various organizations such as Biocom AG and Charite Research, Germany is ‘booming’ and the life sciences sector is certainly in the top growth percentage.”

For instance, Germany is second in the world for the number of clinical trials performed, Lockhart said.

“The bottom line is there are many opportunities and we came at the right time to pursue these,” she said.

In addition to company meetings, members of the Alabama delegation toured biotech sites in the Berlin area, including the biotech park Berlin-Buch and the research incubator Bayer CoLaborator.

Insights in Europe

While the focus was on Berlin, delegation members also learned more about the German state of Baden-Württemberg, which is home to a thriving biotech industry sector and headquarters for a number of top companies, including Mercedes-Benz.

Southern Research infectious disease researcher Tim Sellati makes a presentation in Berlin during the Alabama trade mission to Europe. (CS Germany)

Peggy Sammon, CEO of Huntsville’s GeneCapture and a part of the delegation, said the trip provided valuable insight.

“We’ve been meeting with very senior people in different organizations and we’ve learned a lot of insights about the life sciences business in Germany,” she said.

GeneCapture is a medical device company, and officials are hoping to find partners in Europe to accelerate commercialization, Sammon said.“We are already in technical discussions with one of the biotech companies and we have received very good advice about the regulatory landscape,” she said. “Another great benefit of the trip is the time we have with each other, all of us from life sciences organizations in Alabama.”

Other companies and organizations represented in the delegation included Birmingham’s Southern Research and Blondin Bioscience; Huntsville’s Conversant Biologics, Envision Genomics and Serina Therapeutics; and SpectraCyte of Mobile.

They were joined by government leaders and business recruiters from Huntsville, Madison County, Opelika, Mobile and Tuscaloosa County, along with other representatives from the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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