Hans across the water- Biotechnica 2010
In a world where a piece of chewing gum allegedly chewed by Britney Spears can fetch $514 on eBay or J. D. Salinger’s loo be posted for a cool $1M, what price an electronic Eppendorf Multipette signed by 1993 Nobel prize-winning chemist Professor Kary Mullis?*
Well, we are talking about the man who developed the polymerase chain reaction technique, and if science really is the new rock and roll, he is probably the discipline’s Brian Wilson – and not just because they both dig surfing. So I wouldn’t mind one of them autographed pieces of kit and it could sit quite happily next to my original SIMPSONS animation cels (well you have to have, don’t you?)
So where could I have found this limited edition gem?
At Biotechnica, of course. Biotechnica 2010 (Hanover, Germany Oct. 5th-7th) is the place where this sort of thing just seems to happen. I must admit I’m rather partial to conferences in Germany, they do them so well, and Biotechnica produces a popular, successful mix. To really integrate the different conference strands: papers, seminars, trade exhibition, job hunting and (inspired) partnership scheme into a coherent whole, where everybody feels equal is a tough call. To do it every year is particularly challenging, but in a field as rapidly moving as biotechnology it seems to be just what is required and Biotechnica delivers; a chance to chew the fat with the the people involved in all aspects of the field.
Incidentally I hate the qualifier ‘trade’ to ‘exhibition – it almost seems to degrade this most useful of events – and isn’t it about time we had exhibition stands from university groups as well, so you can sit down and have a proper discussion with them too?
Great German conferences prior to Biotechnica 2010
The very first international conference I attended was in Germany. I only received a grant for registration a week before leaving and it was all a bit rushed. The journey (a proper one) involved ferries and me ordering train tickets in my best schoolboy German: ‘Hamburg – there and back – hin and zuruck, bitter’. I arrived and found (just) the youth hostel where those of us at the bottom of the food chain were staying.
Actually, I’ll qualify that: those of us at the bottom of the food chain and rather self-effacing British professors. I’ll never forget the look on the Italian student’s face when he found out the most senior figure in his field was in the room next door while his professors were in 5 star hotels.
I didn’t mind that the (very comfortable) youth hostel was next to the airport, because the conference was so exciting. However, I was distressed to find that I could not with impunity (as I had been told) take cash out on my credit card in Germany. I spent the week living off the rolls and cheese concealed about my person at breakfast. To pass the time and control the rapidly increasing level of panic at being penniless in a foreign country, between lectures, I started to write what became my first script. Lacking paper in the conference pack I wrote it on the collected cardboard from the proceedings that people had thrown away. I’ve never stopped writing since. So in a strange way I have that very first German conference to thank for where am I am today (hmm). However I have several senior members of the Royal Microscopical Society to thank for bailing me out when I discovered my train ticket was actually just ‘hin’ (there) and was not going to get me ‘zuruch’ in any way.
And for all of you heading to Biotechnica (and those of you who aren’t), we’re offering a special no-prize (as invented by Marvel comic’s Stan Lee) to the writer of the best caption for our cheekily adapted Biotechnica logo -we’re sure those nice Biotechnica people won’t mind! Simply let me know what one balloon (or atom) is saying to the other above.
We will have a live report from Biotechnica to bring you more on-the-spot reaction to this top event – but please Andy do check your ticket before you set off.
*No signed Multipettes on eBay yet – but you can bid for Joan from Mad Men’s green dress – the one in the lawn mower episode. I’m going for a sit down.
Biotechnica 2010 (Hanover Germany Oct 5th-7th)
Undoubtedly one of the premier events of the biotechnology and life sciences calendar. This year the keynote topics are ‘Bio/Pharmaceutical IT’ ‘Regenerative/Preventative Medicine’ and ‘Molecular Diagnostics’. Over 25 of the world’s top biotechnology companies will be exhibiting.