The Buzz is Building for BioBuzz
Stella Restaurant in Rockville has become the place to be for biotech professionals on the fourth Wednesday of every month thanks to BioBuzz happy hours.
The happy hours, which are planned and coordinated by Tech USA and the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus, have been drawing a steady crowd of 60+ people each month, with the most recent November happy hour drawing almost 100 attendees. Feedback for the relatively new series has been glowing.
“BioBuzz brings together a nice mix of biopharma professionals in a relaxed social setting,” said Scott Eldridge of Biotech Vendor Services. “These events are fun, interesting and a tremendous use of my time. I travel from Philadelphia to attend BioBuzz events and will continue to do so in 2012." (Eldridge is pictured above at the November happy hour.)
“I find BioBuzz a wonderful resource for bringing together the professionals working in bio industries,” said Dina Schneider of BioReliance. “It was tremendously instrumental in building my perspective on what the job market landscape is like in my geographic area, and who are the people populating this landscape. Exchanging experiences and suggestions with some of the people I met through the event clarified to me that we are facing similar challenges, and made me feel empowered. Needless to say, it is a great networking tool.”
“I really enjoy the BioBuzz events,” added Tracy Thor of Chesapeake PERL. “I've met so many people in companies I didn't know existed in our own back yard and identified many potential connections for partnering and/or collaboration. It’s also been great to meet the students and next generation of biotech.”
Not only the attendees, but also the sponsors, love BioBuzz.
“Sponsoring BioBuzz was a wonderful experience and we were able to meet and network with a wide variety of individuals associated with biotech services,” said Ellie Giles, Vice President of Business Development for Computer Technology Services (CTS), which sponsored the November happy hour. “The event organization was extremely well done and the venue was warm and welcoming. We enjoyed sponsoring BioBuzz and connecting with so many wonderful people on both a professional and personal level.”
"I have had the privilege to sponsor BioBuzz Rockville in late August to promote the 4th Annual Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium,” said Dan Gincel of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund. “I was very impressed by the event and the number of professional people it attracted from small and large life sciences companies all over Maryland. We had full turnout that led to record registration numbers to the Symposium we were promoting that day. The easy planning, organization, location, attendance and the Buzz made it worthwhile to sponsor again in future dates.”
Launched in February, the BioBuzz Montgomery County happy hours are modeled after BioBuzz Baltimore, a happy hour series created by Tech USA.
"We started BioBuzz [in Baltimore] in 2010 to fill a void for a truly workforce oriented, social and business networking group for the bioscience industry," said Chris Frew of Tech USA, pictured below (right) with Lily Qi from the Office of the Montgomery County Executive and Anil Srivistava from Open Health Systems Laboratory at the September happy hour. "This very basic opportunity to socially mingle with likeminded peers was something that both our candidates and our clients desired and for which we saw a real need."
The happy hours feature very little programming or no presentations. The only formal program is a 2-3 minute “welcome” and an introduction of the month’s featured sponsor. Sponsors have included Kymanox, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Open Health Systems Laboratory, Congressional Bank, and CTS.
"Especially in a time where jobs and budgets are slim, 'who you know' is more important than ever if you're looking for a job, a new hire, or a new partner," Frew said. "People realize that, and I think it's one reason we've been so successful."
In addition to monthly happy hours, in September, BioBuzz hosted a movie night with a special screening of the movie "Contagion" at the Kentlands Stadium 10 and at a theater in Baltimore. The JHU Center for Biotechnology Education and Emergent BioSolutions co-sponsored the movie night Montgomery County -- and Emergent BioSolutions also sponsored the Baltimore showing -- which meant attendees could see the movie for just $5.
“The Contagion movie event was a great idea,” Eldridge said. “I hope the BioBuzz team can come up with at least one or two events each year like that – something that’s happening in the community with relevance to our industry – to enhance the BioBuzz experience.”
"The ultimate impact that I hope BioBuzz will have is that by helping others to build stronger and more dynamic social relationships, a greater number of business and economic opportunities will emerge for all of us," Frew said. "We couldn't be happier with the growth of the group, the great partner we have with JHUMCC, and the tremendous feedback we've received from the many who attend each month."
BioBuzz will take a hiatus in December due to the holidays. The monthly happy hours will resume on January 25.