A beautiful day in San Francisco and although many of the meetings at this year's H&Q conference seemed to spill into the streets surrounding the St. Francis Hotel, with men in suits or casual attire mingling in groups of two and three on the sidewalks, the lobby and hallways of the Hotel are still packed full of industry executives looking to make things happen. That's right, my first impression of this year's conference, and perhaps indicative of what's to come in 2006: people want to do deals. Many of the major pharmaceutical and big biotechnology companies seem interested in early stage therapeutic product opportunities ? even pre-proof of concept ? and are looking to grow either by corporate partnering or M&A, i.e. they are willing to bring products into their pipelines by any means necessary. The IPO market remains flat, which also suggests that the industry will see a higher...

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