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Attendance Up, Hopes High at Chips to Hits

This article has been updated from a previous version. The initial version reported provisional attendance figures, which were down slightly from the previous year's number.


BOSTON, Oct. 30 (GenomeWeb News) - Final attendance numbers at the Chips to Hits

tradeshow here, an annual gathering of the microarray industry, was up to 1,600 this year, compared to last year's record of 1,400 show-goers, according to officials at IBC, the conference's organizer.


As the show began to wind down today, many exhibitors in the conference, from Scandanavian biochip fabricators to giants like Applied Biosystems, said it had been a worthwhile event for them.


Like last year's event, held in Philadelphia, the weather during the first two days has been overcast and rainy. But a rainbow over the Boston harbor at sunset Wednesday matched the optimistic note voiced by some of the 92 vendors, who come from as far as Taiwan and Europe, paying $5,000 for each 10-foot by 10-foot booth occupying 10,000 square feet of exhibition space in the lower level of Boston's World Trade Center.


"There have been a number of people here who have expressed a serious interest in buying equipment in a relatively short time frame," said Ron Gulka, vice president, North America sales and service, for Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., a Harvard Bioscience subsidiary that sells genomic and proteomic instrumentation, software and consumables. "If I had to gauge the success of something, that's how I would gauge it."


The show space is divided between the exhibition space, and conference sessions in a nearby hotel, and show-goers have to walk outside, across a street at a distance approximately equivalent to the length of a football field to traverse the distance between knowledge and commerce.


Many do. Sessions on protein microarrays on the first day of the event, and emerging technologies on the second filled a hotel ballroom of 400 seats. The coffee shop, the lobby, and the eating establishments of the hotel are full of attendees, with white show badges brimming with business cards, some hovering over lap top computers, or cell phones cradled neck to shoulder.


Approaching the halfway mark of the four-day event, one vendor says the show is a success for many reasons after the economic downturn of the past few years.


"This show is really as much about business to business [commerce], as it is about proving that you are still in business," said Paul Haje, president of TeleChem/, perhaps the most noticeable presences at the show, with its representatives dressed in customary trademark snow white garments and two booths, located across from each other on the main aisle of the exhibition floor.


For others, like Applied Biosystems, this show is the place to take the wraps off its entry into the gene-expression profiling arena, allowing showgoers to view the company's new Expression Array benchtop instrumentation system, look at the images of this one-color system, and touch and feel its 2-inch by 3-inch nylon-membrane gasketed cartridges - as well as interact with sales reps radiating confidence in their product.


"We are going to come in with high content, high annotation value, high sensitivity, low starting material - things that customers value -- and not just coming out with just another array system that we can sneak into the marketplace," said Mike Irwin, pharmaceutical sales representative, North America field operations for Applied Biosystems.



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