A two-day summit is underway for Iowans involved in biotechnology. Rachel Hurley, executive director of the Iowa Biotech Association, says the “Partnering for Growth” forum is working to pair up established leaders in the biotech industry with newcomers and students who are eager to learn.
“We have a lot of industry participants and biotech companies within the state who are interested in agricultural research and a lot of university students and associates as well,” Hurley says. “The intent of the program is to partner with the U.S.D.A. Ag Research Service group in developing and commercializing biotech within the state of Iowa.”
She says the forum at the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny features many of the big names in biotech, like Pioneer, Monsanto, Cargill and Kemin, but it’s also a launching pad for many smaller companies and start-ups. “Really, biotech does encompass a lot of areas from industrial and environmental biotech to animal health, pharmaceutical and the general grain and seed stuff,” she says.
The forum offers large group presentations, smaller panel discussions and one-on-one networking opportunities. Hurley says, “The intention is to create more of a partnering mentality here so it’s not just small companies who are trying to make it on their own but they’re partnering with universities, with governmental agencies to further their research faster and more efficiently so technologies can get commercialized and everyone can benefit.”
The forum runs through Tuesday. Speakers include Governor Branstad, officials from the U.S.D.A., and Debi Durham, head of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.