BIO Delegation Gave These Maryland Companies Access to Investors, Customers & Collaborators

By Alex Keown
June 27, 2023

Bradley Cawthern and the Irazu Oncology team went to the 2023 BIO meeting in Boston with two primary goals of partnering and fundraising. Over the course of the annual conference, the Irazu team achieved its target priorities that provided added value to the company and its cancer vaccine platform.

Irazu Oncology was part of a delegation of 15 Maryland-based companies that attended BIO’s (Biotechnology Innovation Organization) annual meeting in partnership with the Maryland Department of Commerce. Each of the delegates shared similar goals with Irazu, hoping to make important connections that could provide opportunities to accelerate development of assets, scale their companies, or reinforce existing business relationships. 

“While some meetings went better than others, all of them added value to our company and gave us the opportunity to inform others about our cancer vaccine platform,” Cawthern, Irazu’s director of operations, told BioBuzz. “Maryland’s representation at BIO was strong and stood out to me as one of the best regional exhibitors in the conference. The booth was fantastic and acted as a base of operations for us during our busy meeting schedule.”

Neeraj Vij, chief executive officer of Precision Theranostics, said attending BIO came at the right time for the company because it is in the process of “initiating seed round fundraising, post un-diluted/NSF funded first-generation product development of our novel home-based/POC, early COPD diagnosis and monitoring tool.”  

Rachel Zayas, founder and chief executive officer of AGED Diagnostics, reported a similar experience and touted the partnership between her company and partners in Maryland, where she has recently relocated her startup. 

Going to BIO was “the most impactful way to get in front of investors.” The event provided opportunities for meetings that allowed AGED Diagnostics to communicate its goals and value proposition with potential partners.

“The conference has been really impactful by getting us in front of global investors that were not on our radar, both private and public groups, and I really think that this will push the needle forward for our next round and stage. In addition, I think we had some meetings that were surprisingly very important in regard to developing a strategy for dealing with payors, coverage, and finding consultants who can support those efforts,” Zayas told BioBuzz

Andrew Lees, founder of Fina Biosolutions, expressed excitement over BIO. Lees called it a stupendous meeting, in part because he was able to meet face to face with many people he had spoken with over video calls, including a “huge Korean contingent of previous and ongoing collaborators,” as well as partners based in Australia. 

Integrated Pharma Services President and Chief Scientific Officer Mina Izadjoo said the company conducted dozens of meetings during BIO. The approximately 30 meetings held during the week were made possible by the Department of Commerce with support from Montgomery County, Izadjoo said. 

“The conference was not only a great learning experience but also a platform for promoting small biotech companies,” Izadjoo said.

Nir Gamliel, chief business officer of genomics company OpenDNA, said participating in the BIO conference delegation provided the company with the platform to meet with potential partners and investors. Gamliel told BioBuzz he is confident those meetings will bear fruit in the near future.

“We’ll look forward to continuing to develop OpenDNA in the state of Maryland while enjoying the provided support for growth,” Gamliel said. 

Maen Farha, founder and CEO of Avident Health called the BIO conference an “incredible opportunity” that provided access to business leaders in multiple fields that can benefit small businesses such as Avident, a digital health start-up based in Baltimore. Farha, a breast surgeon, said the meetings held at BIO will allow Avident to grow and develop.

The growth and development of Maryland’s life sciences ecosystem is the goal of the Maryland Department of Commerce team that brought these companies together. By sponsoring the delegation, and welcoming hundreds of other conference participants to visit the Maryland pavilion, the team successfully showcased the many strengths of doing business in the region.