Networking, exposure key to Oklahoma presence at BIO convention

Oklahomans return to annual life sciences trade show to make connections, renew relationships and tout the state's bioscience sector.
BY JIM STAFFORD Published: April 23, 2013
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— Among the first Oklahomans on the 2013 BIO Convention exhibition floor Monday morning was Brien Thorstenberg, director of business with the Muskogee City-County Port Authority.

He's been here before.

Thorstenberg has worked the Oklahoma BIO booth each year since the 2004 show in San Francisco. He's greeted visitors and scanned badges on behalf of the OKBio effort while working for economic development organizations in both Muskogee and Ardmore.

Before he greeted his first visitor to the Oklahoma booth at the opening of the 2013 BIO show, Thorstenberg pondered a question that often arises for the group that invests money, time and passion into an annual four-day life sciences trade show.

What is your payoff from this effort?

“You create contacts here,” Thorstenberg said. “If you just send someone an email or phone them, you are going to get blown off. But if you get in a position — be it at our reception or at the trade booth of one of the partnering sessions and talk one on one — they may not have an opportunity now to do business with you, but in three or five years they may.”

There are few overnight returns from meeting potential business partners or investors at a trade show or working to lure a potential employer to Oklahoma, he said.

“This a long-term effort,” he said. “Relationships and credibility cannot be established overnight. We have to come to where they are. They are not in Muskogee. If I wait for them to come see me, I'll be waiting all my life.”

There is also another oft-repeated theme shared by many in the Oklahoma contingent here of about 70 people: contributing to the state's BIO effort is for the greater good.

“I am here to support Oklahoma,” said Clayton Duncan, CEO of Oklahoma City's Accele Biopharma Inc., a venture that invests in and manages life science-based startups. “We're a small community and we work together, and I think that's one of our strengths.”

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At a glance

Oklahoma makes presence felt

These Oklahoma organizations and companies have representatives at the 2013 BIO show.

Accele Biopharma

Altheus Therapeutics

Ardmore Development Authority

ARL Biopharma Inc.

Caisson Biotech

COARE Biotechnology

Chisholm Advisors

Cytovance Biologics

DormaTarg

Emergent Technologies

EpimedX LLC.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

i2E Inc.

McAfee & Taft

Moleculera Labs

Muskogee City-County Port Authority

Norman Economic Development Coalition

OG&E

Oklahoma Bioscience Association

Oklahoma Career and Technology Education

Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology

Oklahoma Department of Commerce

Oklahoma Health Center Foundation

Oklahoma Life Science Fund

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Oklahoma State University

OneNet

Ponca City Development Authority

Pure Protein, LLC

Samuel Rogers Noble Foundation

Sensulin LLC

Stillwater Chamber of Commerce

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

University of Oklahoma Office of Technology

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