Great Ideas, Innovations, and Alternative Solutions: The World Orphan Drug Congress 2014 Innovation Showcase

In Orphan Drug Congress by Hugh Blackstaffe

Great ideas don’t always get the headlines. Nor do they get the attention they so richly deserve. In fact, some of the best things to ever happen, particularly in the world of science, don’t get the attention that should be awarded to them. I’d put it down to the glamour, or lack thereof, of the science world. Newspapers are not often proudly declaring a breakthrough in developing a drug that could potentially treat a few thousand people who have a rare disease and let them live a semblance of a normal life. Mainstream television certainly doesn’t celebrate those at the forefront of the field, the men and women on the frontline and cutting edge in the war on misery, disease and premature death. If only there was something that was dedicated to giving a platform to those at the forefront of the sector, the spearhead of orphan drug development who want to and should present their outstanding and extraordinary work to the world…

Luckily, there is! The World Orphan Drug Congress 2014 is proud to present *insert drumroll* THE INNOVATION SHOWCASE!

The Innovation Showcase is designed to, unsurprisingly, showcase the most innovative, cutting edge, advanced work being done in the field of orphan drugs and rare diseases. It’s also meant to celebrate and recognise those who have achieved a mark of excellence, namely the coveted ‘Orphan Designation’ from the European Medicines Agency. This highly desired, rarely awarded (inherently, given the high fail rate of developing drugs) is something that should be displayed proudly as if it were a medal. The world needs to know of these exceptional people and their outstanding achievements…and the World Orphan Drug Congress is going to do exactly that. I want the event to move away from being something that places an emphasis on commercial partners and instead offers an agenda that gives equal voice to everyone. Drowning out the voice of the patients and ignoring the scientists in the push for profits isn’t going to get anyone anywhere…it’ll just broaden and deepen the divide more and then the trouble really starts.

With spaces still available and time getting shorter, this is an opportunity not to be missed for those operating in the field, though I must stress that the Innovation Showcase. Is. Not. A. Sales. Pitch. This is not the time or the place for someone focused on selling their company to the audience. It’s not interesting and it’s a huge turn off. That is not what the Congress is about. It is a celebration and discussion of the scientific achievements and unique work of invited patient orientated organisations…it’s not an excuse to whip out the investment powerpoint and start talking through just how wonderful your company is, with buzzwords flying left, right, and centre. If a Innovation Showcase presentation attracts potential investors, partners, and collaborators, that’s fantastic! Great for the presenter, talking about their work only to find someone who can help them reach the next level, that’s almost what we exactly want to happen! All the selling should be done in the networking. That’s what Terrapinn (the company I work for) is all about. Finding new ways to connect people, to promote business development through new and exciting routes in a world saturated with people trying to sell and make a profit, is at the core of what Terrapinn do…but as I say, I’m not here to sell you something, I’m here to promote the achievements of the best and brightest at the World Orphan Drug Congress (being held in Brussels from the 12th-14th of November).


So, do you know of anyone who has achieved something remarkable that is worthy of attention at the Congress? Do you know of a scientist or researcher who should get some highly deserved exposure? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’ll take it from there.

On top of that, do you know of people who have gone above and beyond in the field and are deserving of a shiny award? Then please do submit your nominations for the 2nd Annual ROAR Awards here!

It’s a short blog this week, as it’s all been a bit mad and frantic, and it’s Easter as well, which adds a whole new layer of complications…delicious, chocolatey complications, but still complications enough! Next week, I will be blogging from that nation know as the United States of America, from the very heart of the country, Washington DC…and I’m excited for it already! Taking my British charm and business schmoozing to an international level. If you’re at the World Orphan Drug Congress USA next week, please don’t hesitate to come and say hi…I”ll be the British guy in the blue three piece.


I hope you enjoyed the blog, for more information, please visit the World Orphan Drug Congress website. If you’d like to get in touch, feel free to drop me an email at or follow me on Twitter @HBlackstaffe.


This week, the blog was written listening to Justin Timberlake’s ’20/20′ and the soundtrack to ‘The Italian Job (Collinson, Peter, 1969)