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The city of San Francisco and its Golden Gates welcome a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a first time visitor or a long-time local, this city feels like home to every walk of life on the planet. With people from across the globe funneling into the city for its innovative industries and stunning scenery, San Francisco seems to evolve and transform with every single day. It’s a city held in perpetual confluence of times and cultures, from the many rows of beautiful Victorian homes, to the neighborhoods of the future in SoMa and Mid-Market, eccentric festivals parading through town, and salt-brined artist workshops all along the stunning coastline, makes it one of the most amazing times to visit the “City by the Bay.” It’s also home to one of the most frenzied conferences of the year for pharma, biotech, and healthcare industries, called J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference 2020.
On January 13th - 16th, thousands of pharmaceutical industry executives, investors, bankers, and financial analysts will pack into The Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Now in its 38th year, the conference has evolved from being a semi-private function with a few hundred people to a massive healthcare event attended by everyone from the world's most powerful drug and biotech companies to the smallest boutique start-ups. J.P. Morgan expects close to 500 companies to present at the show this year, yet interestingly enough, attendance is by invitation only. There’s also no trade show floor, and good luck tracking down information on speakers or even an agenda if you’re not invited, because this special conference is only for clients of the firm. A public website for the event shows very little information, so it’s safe to say, this is not your typical “run-of-the-mill” event. Yet almost 10,000 people attend the show, so it’s truly one of those diamonds in the rough, especially for the investment crowd!
For events such as the JPM 2020, it can quickly become so overwhelming for a team of company attendees, particularly if limited in size. With so much potential ground to cover, making the most of your time and investment is key, so we’ve put a few tips together for planning out your time in San Francisco:
Know the area and activities
The annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is, by far, the largest and most informative healthcare investment symposium in the industry, bringing together top-tier executives, innovative start-up companies, big pharma conglomerates, emerging technology creators, and all types of investors that are ready for action in 2020.
What is currently known as the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference began in 1983 and was hosted by Hambrecht & Quist (H&Q). H&Q was acquired by Chase in 2000 and a year later Chase was acquired by J.P. Morgan. At its infancy, the conference featured just 20 companies, had about 200 attendees and focused on the biotech industry. Today, while it is still at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference brings thousands of investors from around the world together. The hundreds of companies presenting run the gamut, from start-ups to those with more than $300 billion in market cap, and encompass the entire global healthcare landscape, including pharmaceutical firms, healthcare service providers, profit and not-for-profits, and medical device companies. 
Each year, tons of executives in healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology spaces attend the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, some to discuss their recent developments, and others just to bounce around from investor to investor in search of the best deal. With 9,000+ attendees and 450+ presenting companies expected this year, there’s going to be endless opportunities for gathering with members of the investment community to network, cut deals, and provide updates on product pipelines and business strategies.
Some of the big topics of last year’s event mainly focused on:
- Focus on Regulations: FDA’s plans to modernize its drug development review process
- Focus on M&A: Large scale deals with an overview of other M&A in the industries
- Focus on Digital Health: Recent acquisitions in the digital health space
- Focus on Biosimilars: Current financial landscape of biosimilars and their acquisitions
- Focus on Consumers: New healthcare payment models and care management programs
JPM Week, always during the first few weeks of the new year, is a super busy but crucial time for healthcare, pharma, and biotech industries to advance investment opportunities, seek out the financial landscape of the upcoming year, and to develop overall business development goals and strategies. This event is a prime location for companies to meet with investors and each other, and can be a great starting point for developing takeovers or other deals. 2019 saw a number of mega-deals, including the $63 billion AbbVie-Allergan merger and the $11.4 billion acquisition of Array BioPharma by Pfizer, and the healthcare industry is wondering who might be next to pair up.
Identify the right companies to meet
J.P. Morgan Healthcare 2020 conference caters to both the earliest stage startups, those seeking grants, seed and angel capital, as well as big pharma companies searching for the next monstrous acquisition deal. By networking at JPM2020 your company will gain unprecedented visibility into the current investment landscape and will leverage the event’s close-knit network of key decision makers to make promising connections with future clients and strategic partners. Decision-making CEOs are the only group that speak at JPM2020, so you’re getting a bird’s eye view and a top-level perspective of the various trends in the industry.
Most of the attendees and investors represent a huge pool of capital, and the event’s unique networking platform allows fundraising companies to find investors and strategic partners that are a best fit for their technology and stage of development. On the strategic partner side, you’ll find everyone from angel groups, philanthropy and endowments, venture capital and private equity, family offices, boutique and mid-size companies, and big pharma. As for start-ups, JPM2020 accommodates everything for your needs, including access to other pharma and biotech companies, medtech and diagnostics groups, healthcare, and IT/digital businesses.
Find out who’s going
Some business teams may wonder if the effort of planning the trip, navigating the crowds and trying to connect with potential partners is really worth all that time and money. Our answer is yes on this conference. It’s worth all of those things because so many of the people who matter to science and financial industries are there! Deals seem to happen unexpectedly and new business connections are bound to surface in the surrounding coffee shops, bars and diners of San Francisco. The conference may be a madhouse, but it’s completely worth the trip.
Even though the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is an invite-only event, tickets aren’t actually necessary in order to make the trip worth its weight in gold. Believe it or not, you can definitely fill your schedule with worthwhile meetings and networking parties without officially attending the conference. Even if you can’t make the trip to San Francisco this year, we highly recommend that you soak up the action from your internet connection through the many webcasts, online news feeds, and even Twitter updates by following the hashtag #JPM2020. But we also believe that nothing beats actually being there and immersed in all of the action. Throughout the week expect long days of speaker sessions, random side meetings, lively evenings of cocktail parties and endless networking events. Our advice is to be fully rested and with a large stack of business cards ready to give out for this one.
This conference has attracted large crowds mainly because of the amount of networking opportunities and for a few reasons. Firstly, only the CEOs will present at the conference, so investors can hear the story right from the top. Secondly, portfolio managers always need to rebalance their portfolios in the new year, and an early January conference gives them an opportunity to see all the major players in one place. Both venture capitalists and IPO investors love this conference because of that. Because of the overall growth in attendance, it’s now becoming easier than ever to network, scout opportunities and set up meetings later in the first quarter. Overall, we think this will be one of the best conferences of 2020.
Meet up with Zymewire
While we may not be attending the J.P. Morgan Healthcare 2020 Conference this year, we’d still like to hear from you! Let us know about your experiences, and how your company preps for events to maximize ROI. If you would like to learn more about how teams at service providers around the world are getting more face to face meetings with the right prospects, reach out for a demo today!