Showcasing Oxfordshire's rich seam of Life Sciences talent with Nigel Wild, head of Oxford-based consultancy Nigel Wild Associates The old adage of "it's not what you know, it's who you know," is a keystone of business, and networking the lifeblood of many an organisation.

But partnering is not a concept in everyday use. Except, that is, in the world of biotechnology, where collaborations and joint projects among small biotech companies offer an invaluable route to growing their businesses.

The keyword here is "small". Globally, there are but a handful of large biotechnology firms: the majority are small in terms of workforce and capitalisation. Available resources are concentrated on developing the technology; little if any is spent on marketing and advertising.

Biotechs know - or rapidly learn - that there are many others out there with similar or complementary technologies to their own, but in a global industry, finding who they are and which ones they should seek to partner can be a daunting task. is at the very heart of encouraging and facilitating these extremely fruitful partnerships.

Based at the Oxford Science Park, BioPartner was the brainchild of Ms Lin Bateson and Dr Alasdair Stamps. Ms Bateson had a strong background in networking organisations and a huge range of contacts worldwide; Dr Stamps worked in the county's biotech cluster on business development.

They had worked successfully with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the joint BERR and Foreign and Commonwealth Office organisation that helps UK businesses export and encourages inward investment. BioPartner acts as a contractual partner concentrating on organising and running UKTI partnering and similar events.

It runs the UK - Medicon Valley Bioscience Alliance, a strategic initiative between UK (via UKTI) and Medicon Valley, an alliance between Denmark and Sweden, whose science clusters are joined by the landmark bridge across the Oresund Strait.

BioPartner interacts with many networks at home and abroad and its principals serve on the steering committees of two such organisations.

To further assist UK firms to internationalise, BioPartner has just become an Accredited Trade Organisation (ATO) of UKTI to help deliver its Tradeshow Access Programme. As such, BioPartner may be asked to recruit companies and organise the distribution of grants for agreed events from 1 April 2009.

UKTI Life Sciences Team Leader Harriet Fear is delighted that BioPartner has been awarded ATO status.

"It is a reflection of all their hard work with and for my team and wider UK Trade & Investment in recent years" she said.

"But we see our remit as an ATO as much wider than just those funds" said Ms Bateson. "Right now, government support is regionalised, with each Regional Development Agency being the point of contact. But there's no single external point of enquiry or support for UKTI's marketing of life sciences. We're aiming to be that point, to have a national approach and to be at the forefront of welcoming inward trade missions looking to invest in UK."

"We want to be an important bridge between government and small and medium enterprises and complement the services offered by other players in this arena."

A key weapon in the BioPartner armoury is their partnering software. A joint venture with White October, a website and database developer, the software is called Meeting Mojo.

"The keystone to the whole thing is simplicity" explained Dr Stamps. "Ours offers a 3-step approach - register for the partnering meeting, search the database of which companies are attending, book meetings with those you want to see."

"We trialled Mojo at a recent event involving over 200 attendees. We issued no guide on how to use it, it worked like a charm and we didn't have a single query on its use."

"And", added White October's MD Dave Fletcher, "it's a base package that can be customised in whatever way the client wants. It gives automatic online event registration, a calendar of dates, times and meeting locations available and prints schedules of meetings. It's scalable, has multi-lingual capability and gives an audit trail to follow-up on the outcomes of the various partnering meetings. It can be used in other industry sectors, too."

"We add value to all the events because we know the industry and its movers and shakers" Dr Stamps said. "We help recruit suitable companies for each meeting and advise them by name of the best people to meet in other companies attending. The software makes it simple to follow our leads."

BioPartner also heads up a network of consultants across UK with specialist knowledge of the biotech sector. UK BiotechNet took over the name of the former Oxford bioincubator company because it was synonymous with quality. Now BioPartner, White October and Nigel Wild Associates on human resources and PR services are just three members of a seven strong and diverse team.

"As always, biotech will continue to change" commented Ms Bateson. "Traditional areas are finding it nigh-on impossible to get venture capital, either from UK or elsewhere. Medical devices, contract research and diagnostics - looking at ways of diagnosing illnesses and their signs and symptoms - are the ones attracting investment. But we're back to short term-ism, high returns over short time spans. We know that there will be ideas and moves out there that we couldn't even imagine right now and we'll be there to capture them."

FACT FILE Name: Established: 2005 Directors: Ms Lin Bateson, Dr Alasdair Stamps Number of staff: 6 Annual turnover: Confidential Contact: 01865 784737 Website: