It’s fair to say the last 12 months have been politically and economically tumultuous.
Events on both sides of the Atlantic have shaken up the perceived order of things and set the world on an uncertain course.
But whatever the future holds for our societies, we in the science community cannot afford to pull up our drawbridges and work in isolation.
If anything, the events of the past year have reinforced the need for us to continue and even strengthen our international collaboration efforts.
That’s why events like the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology are so important.
Last year’s event provided a unique opportunity for more than 900 attendees from 32 countries and 32 U.S. states to make invaluable connections and showcase the best of their industries.
This year’s event, in Montréal from July 23-26, promises to be even bigger, allowing global leaders form connections and partnerships that will drive growth in the sector for years to come.
Here at the Life Sciences Hub Wales, we have spent the last year consolidating our international collaborations and outreach work.
Based in Cardiff, the capital city, the Hub was established to foster collaboration in life sciences in Wales, bringing together academic, business, clinical, government, professional services and funding organisations to provide a commercially driven resource for the sector.
We work to showcase Welsh life sciences globally, and we are determined that will continue. We have a number of mechanisms in place to achieve that aim.
Last summer we signed an international partnership agreement with four other science parks and clusters – LifeTechValley in Belgium, Sherbrooke Innopole in Canada, Medicon Village in Sweden and Inartis Foundation/Health Valley in Switzerland.
The agreement, called Twins’ International MultiHelix, will benefit each organisation’s members by helping with investments and strengthening their work in an international setting.
The Hub is also a member of the Council of European BioRegions (CEBR), a network of life science clusters across Europe that has hundreds of cluster partners across the world.
CEBR exists to create a European platform for cluster-driven initiatives, to create a profile for European clusters on the world stage and to transform competitiveness into co-operation.
The Hub is also a proud supporter of BioWales, the Welsh Government’s flagship event for the life sciences sector. Up to 700 delegates from across the world are expected to attend this year’s event, being held at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre on 7 and 8 March.
The Health and Wealth theme focuses on the latest developments in cell therapy, regenerative medicine and medical technologies, in which Wales is particularly strong. Among the keynote speakers are leading figures from GSK, Pfizer, GE Healthcare and Microsoft.
This year’s event will be an important opportunity to confirm that Wales is still open to the world.
It is clear that our sector has a global future and requires a global outlook. We must continue to make new friends and forge new international partnerships and agreements at events like BioWales and the BIO World Congress, whatever the political circumstances.
Dr Penny Owen is the interim executive chair of the Life Sciences Hub Wales. She has more than 20 years’ experience of working in the life sciences sector, specifically in R&D, marketing and operations.