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Mar. 29, 2013 9:30 am

Why half of Philly conventions are in life sciences

Nearly half of all conventions that meet in Philadelphia are connected to life sciences and there's a reason for that, say the convention center's marketing group. It's because the region can tout a wealth of resources in the industry that help attract convention goers.

The Pittcon expo had 1,100 exhibitors. Photo courtesy of Pittcon.

This is a guest post from Sue Hamilton, a longtime Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau communications director now with Devine + Partners.

Nearly half of all conventions that meet in Philadelphia are connected to life sciences and there’s a reason for that, said Bonnie Grant, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. It’s because the region can tout a wealth of resources in the industry that help attract convention goers.

Philadelphia’s rich life sciences sector was just one of the things about which attendees learned at Pittcon, or the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. The annual conference and exposition, focused on laboratory science, took place on March 17-21 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and attracted more than 18,000 delegates and generated an economic impact of nearly $40 million, Grant said. Approximately 28 percent of the attendees were international visitors, arriving in Philadelphia from 90 countries.

This was Philadelphia’s first time hosting the conference. Attendees included lab managers, scientists, chemists, researchers and professors, from industrial, academic and government labs. They represented scientific disciplines including life science, food science, drug discovery, environmental, forensics, nanotechnology, water/wastewater, energy/fuel, agriculture and bioterrorism.

Pittcon featured speakers such as Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto and R. Barnett, who discussed his research and findings on the Large Hadron Collider and the experiments and nature of the Higgs Boson. Pittcon also presented Science Week, a science education outreach program that offered free demonstration workshops for students and teachers from the region.

Pittcon delegates took home a lot of knowledge about Philadelphia as a center for technology and the life sciences, said Grant. Here are three things attendees learned about Philadelphia and among the assets that helped attract this prestigious science conference to the region.

  • Philadelphia is not only the birthplace of American history, but of medical history. The city is home to the first hospital, first medical school, first children’s hospital, first medical library and first college of pharmacy.
  • The Philadelphia region, including parts of Delaware and New Jersey, has a huge network of health-focused schools. It has six medical schools, 22 nursing schools, two dental schools, two colleges of pharmacy, a veterinary school, a school of optometry, a podiatry school, allied health schools, almost 100 hospitals and more than 90 colleges and universities.
  • The tri-state region of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware represents 80 percent of the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry. Outstanding academic and research institutions work in collaboration with industry here. Many life-saving drugs and innovative diagnostic and medical devices are all found within a 50-mile radius of each other.
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