Summit brings like minds together
Aotearoa’s life sciences and biotech communities have united for the very first time at Life Sciences Summit in Wellington
The capital recently hosted BioTechNZ’s Life Sciences Summit, which attracted almost 400 attendees, 63 speakers, 26 exhibitors, 30 sponsors and 42 sessions held over two days.
It’s all part of a multi-year partnership to host the conference in Wellington and grow the country’s promising biotech sector – and BioTechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says the successful event has meant dates have now been locked in for 2024 in New Zealand’s innovative capital.
“Wellington is perfect as a conference destination – the city has all the ingredients, from the diverse groups of people to attend, plus Government, and it’s just an easy place to move around,” says Zahra.
“With Government based in Wellington, alongside other sectors of strength, it was also easy to bring speakers in – Callaghan Innovation and Victoria University of Wellington were fantastic to work with, and Malaghan Institute of Medical Research helped create content, pulling a number of their speakers together which added integrity to the content.”
We are excited about coming back – Wellington is not only easy to get to, but everything is in walking distance. There are fantastic places to eat and drink, and it’s just a beautiful city!
Zahra Champion (Executive Director of BioTechNZ)
Summit addresses challenges
Held at Shed 6 on Wellington’s waterfront, the summit provided a platform for discussion of the challenges New Zealand and the world are facing — from climate emissions, gene editing, scaling New Zealand technology for the world, venture capital funding trends, talent attraction and Aotearoa’s competitive advantages.
It’s a new conference that Zahra says united Aotearoa New Zealand’s life sciences and biotechnology communities across all sectors, including agriculture, environment, industrial, as well as human and animal health. It is likely to result in changes to Government policy and regulations in the future.
Though Shed 6 proved an ideal venue in a “nice, central location”, Zahra says the summit has outgrown that space and she’s looking forward to moving to another great location in Wellington’s new conference and exhibition centre, Tākina, in 2024.
Delegates’ feedback from this year’s summit has been nothing but positive about both the venue and Wellington as a destination, and she says there’s already plenty of talk about the 2024 event.
“We are excited about coming back – Wellington is not only easy to get to, but everything is in walking distance, there are fantastic places to eat and drink, and it’s just a beautiful city!”
Support recognises importance of biotech industry
Behind the scenes, Zahra says Business Events Wellington and WellingtonNZ, which provided funding through the Wellington Regional Events Fund, were instrumental in the 2023 summit’s success.
“Irette (Business Events Wellington manager) and her team believed in us from the start and never doubted our dream to make this happen – if we didn’t get the seed funding, we would not have held this event at all, so we are very grateful.”
Biotech is an increasingly important industry in New Zealand for addressing pressing environmental, health, climate and food challenges, says Irette.
“So supporting an event like this meets our objective of retaining and growing conferences and business events in sectors that leave a positive impact for the Wellington region and the rest of New Zealand."