Edit: Great post on this same conference over on The Soul of Biotech blog.
As part of a continuing effort to rebrand myself as a healthcare acolyte, I went to the club-led Healthcare Conference this past weekend. While I haven’t mentioned them much here, conferences are a continual part of the HBS experience. There are probably conferences on at least 80% of the weekends here (examples: the VC/PE conference, the Middle East conference, the Entrepreneurship conference, the Women’s Association conference — they’re everywhere!) They’re usually pretty amazing, too — HBS can leverage the name & student body to bring in some major heavy-hitters.
I’ve found that I’m usually exhausted of business stuff by the weekend, so I rarely take advantage of these events. I mean, seriously, who wants to spend all day Saturday in a conference when they’re in class / reading cases for 9+/hr day every weekday? Alas, job searches require sacrifice, so I stayed most of the day:
- Keynote with the CEO of Intuitive Surgical
- Personalized Medicine with a Pres. of Genzyme & a VP of Medco
- Biotech/Pharma with Directors of Genentech & Merck
- … among others.
Of course, the real point of conferences is networking. I think this is lost on many people. Sure, the panels will be interesting and all, but it’s really about meeting the people next to you, walking around during the breaks, and talking over lunch / cocktails. I didn’t pursue it all that aggressively (I was mainly there to have something to chat about during interviews), but it’s surprising to me how many people just sit there and take copious notes. It’s not like the panelists are going to say anything that you can’t find on-line! That said, here are a few of my informational takeaways:
- Robotic-assisted surgery is an amazing technology! There was a short video clip of a doctor peeling a grape with precision robotics… very cool. The market thinks so, too: Intuitive already has a 70% share of complex prostate surgery and has seens almost 300% CAGR! I wish I had invested in this…
- More $ were spent last year on diagnostics than on the last 20yrs combined. Most of the Personalized Medicine panelists see diagnostics (coupled with pharma-solutions) to be the new key to the marketplace.
- The pharma panel was particularly interesting. Three huge questions: Why is pharma still vertically integrated when almost every other industry has disaggregated? (answer: 20yr product life cycle… or maybe they’re finally experimenting with specialization…?)
- What’s big pharma going to do when all drugs fall off patent by 2012? (answer: acquire biotechs with full pipeline…?)
- What’s going to happen in the face of an even more difficult pricing environment: excess sales & manufacturing capacity, int’l price caps? (answer: consolidation…?)