From the Editor: May 2020

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In this way-too-interesting time we’re living through, we are seeing the worst and best of humanity as we do what we can to protect ourselves and our families. When we can congregate again, some of us will be relieved to abandon home offices and get back to familiar work surroundings, social interactions, dependable Internet access, and company-provided toilet tissue. Others will have learned that working from home is the greatest thing next to sliced bread and lobby with their management to maintain what they have learned about new levels of productivity.

Although our parent company, Informa, sustains many publications (most of them Taylor & Francis academic journals), it is above all an events company. We often ask authors to expand on key elements of their conference presentations. So we are delighted with the transparent approach of our corporate officers toward communicating with employees and stockholders regarding the health and continuation of our group’s events. Postponing an event is a major undertaking, and the results of widespread conference postponement and cancellation on our industry alone will prove to be mindboggling.

In March, BPI West was one of our first events to be postponed — only days before it would have convened in Santa Clara, CA. It is rescheduled for August. BPI Europe, an April event, also was postponed. And of course, we already are thinking about Biotech Week Boston and the main BPI Conference in late September. But we do have cause to celebrate: Bio Europe Spring, a large annual offering from our EBD group, converted to a digital event with astonishing success (in very little time). And our BPI Theater, normally part of the BIO Convention’s exhibit hall, will be conducted digitally (and summarized as usual in a July featured report).

We editors continue to invite you to write, partly to help readers maintain a connection with their peers in lieu of familiar face-to-face networking. However, the human component — that energy generated by in-person interaction — provides something that cannot be reproduced digitally. We need to keep in mind that video is wonderful but still no replacement for physical exchange between human beings.

To that end, we’d like you to weigh in informally on a few questions. Send your thoughts to me at anne.montgomery@ informa.com. Your insights can help us plan to emerge from this admittedly frightening time with enhanced opportunities for adding digital participation options to physical events and thereby bring vital information to a broader global audience.

Question 1: How confident do you feel about returning to large-scale events in July? Does your answer differ if you distinguish between consumer events (e.g., concerts) and business conferences? (1 = low, 5 = high)

Question 2: Beyond heeding government restrictions, what would be the main barriers to your attendance at a conference in the second half of this year?

Question 3: On that same 1–5 scale, what confidence do you have in the future of your
company’s business in a post-COVID-19 world?

S. Anne Montgomery, Editor in Chief

 

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