I have just returned to Sydney from Queenstown, New Zealand where the annual Bioshares meeting took place over the weekend. I call Bioshares 'JP Morgan South' because it is the premier Life Science investment conference for our part of the world. If you really want to know what is happening in biotech and medical devices in Australia and New Zealand - which I argue is the next big thing for the sector globally - then you really need to be at Bioshares. Plus, the venue is a refreshing place to be. Nothing like the sunrise over Lake Wakatipu on a brisk July morning to lift your spirits. I came back from Bioshares 2016 pretty bullish on the state of our sector. For one thing, attendance was at a record high. For another, so many companies have improved their story over the last twelve months, and there were many great companies that were new to me. Thank you to David Blake, Mark Pachacz and Paris Brooke for making it all happen.
A personal highlight for me at Bioshares is the traditional 'Peasants' Dinner', which is one of the events that opens the meeting. The Peasants' Dinner is for all of us who aren't CEOs of biotech companies (plus a few who are), and the venue for the gathering, Gantleys, is one of the best restaurants in a town renowned for its fine dining establishments. Thanks to co-owner and sommelier Brent Rands for hosting us, and to FB Rice for their generous sponsorship of the night. Peasants' gives our industry a chance to honour some of its quiet achievers through the Red Hat Awards. Here were the 2016 winners:
Best New Peasant – Rob Birrell, former CEO of Genetic Signatures. Rob worked with one of the founding fathers of biotech in Australia, the late Dr Geoff Grigg, to build Genetic Signatures over many years. This year's award recognises Rob's dogged and imaginative persistence with the Genetic Signatures project through thick and thin.
Best Re-Rating – Brian Leedman, ResApp Heath. ResApp (ASX: RAP) was 2.6 cents per share at the time of Bioshares 2015. It was 40 cents as we were sitting down to dinner in Queenstown last Thursday. This award also honours Brian's tireless labour over many years to promote the Life Sciences sector in Western Australia.
Financier of the Year - Daniel Moore, Armada Capital. Daniel worked for the best part of two years to get Race Oncology (ASX: RAC) on the ASX as a public company. His Red Hat Award recognises the successful outcome of that journey.
Hall of Fame. Eddie Grieve, ASX. Without the ASX we wouldn't have a Life Sciences sector in Australia and New Zealand, and the sector therefore owes a big debt of gratitude to Eddie Grieve. Eddie is ASX's Senior Manager, Listings Business Development. In that role he has taken a strong personal interest in the fortunes of the sector.
Cage-Rattler of the Year - Dr Christian Behrenbruch, Factor Therapeutics. Every industry needs a cage rattler to help keep people's thinking fresh. Chris Behrenbruch, through his oftentimes trenchant commentary on the Life Sciences sector in Australia in recent times, has been just such a cage rattler. Not everyone, mind you, has enjoyed the rattling. At Peasants we staged a ritual in absentia burning of Chris' Red Hat certificate.