This past week I had the privilege of attending the Mass BIO Annual Meeting, a large gathering of life science professionals from around the world. Our conversations focused on the value of medical innovation, as well as the critical challenges facing the life science industry. Here are my three biggest takeaways from the meeting:

1. Cutting NIH funding will cripple our industry.

The big dark cloud hanging over the meeting was the proposed budget cuts to NIH funding. NIH invests $30 billion per year in medical research. Other states will survive the funding cuts because they have massive private sector research and development investment. In Kentucky, NIH funding makes up the majority of our research budget. Kentucky researchers receive over $100 million per year in NIH funding and cutting that funding will have devastating effects.

2. Travel bans would have a large impact on life science research.

There were noticeable absences at this year’s meeting due to fears of the travel ban. The immediate challenge with the travel ban revolves around intellectual property. Venture capital firms are reluctant to fund projects where critical team members could face travel restrictions and where intellectual property could end up on the other side of potential national security restrictions.

A director from one of the Harvard incubators put it well when he said, “Every research team at Harvard has an international component.”

3. This year’s buzzword was “convergence.”

The future of the life science industry will smear the lines of geography. The industry is discovering that cures know no boundaries or borders. This is a perfect setting for the Turnpike Partnership—the future of collaboration, mentorship and the virtual bio cluster.