Summit brings like minds together

The capital hosted BioTechNZ’s Life Sciences Summit, attracting almost 400 attendees, 63 speakers, 26 exhibitors, and 30 sponsors. There were 42 sessions over two days.

It was all part of a multi-year partnership to host the conference in Wellington and grow the country’s promising biotech sector.

BioTechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says the successful event has meant dates are now 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 who attend, plus Government, and it’s 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.”

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 Tākina, Wellington’s new conference and exhibition centre, in 2024.

Delegates’ feedback from the summit has been nothing but positive about both the venue and Wellington as a destination. There’s already plenty of talk about the next 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!”

“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)

Support recognises importance of biotech industry

Behind the scenes, Zahra says Business Events Wellington and WellingtonNZ were instrumental in the 2023 summit’s success. WellingtonNZ provided funding through the Wellington Regional Events Fund.

“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.”