San Diego biotechnology leaders are planning to host the world’s largest biotech convention in June, drawing some 16,000 people from 65 countries and featuring a keynote address by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Bio International Convention will be held June 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center. It is the third time San Diego has hosted the convention, which was last here in 2008.

“Since Bio’s last visit, San Diego has really matured tremendously as a life sciences innovator,” said Joe Panetta, president and CEO of the local industry trade group Biocom. “We call this an ecosystem of innovation.”

Panetta and other industry and city officials spoke at the offices of Janssen Labs to preview the conference for media community leaders.

Since the last Bio conference here, Panetta said, San Diego has led the industry in innovations in personalized genetic medicine, the collection and storage of genetic data, the convergence of telecommunications and health care, bio renewables,  and the creation first synthetic life form.

He also cited the growth of area scientific institutions such as Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

The convention is expected to generate $56 million for the local economy. “It may not be a big as Comic-Con, or with as colorfly dressed attendees, but those going to the Bio conference spend twice as much per person as Comic-Con visitors,” noted Francis Barraza , Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s director of boards and commissions.

In addition to Clinton, the convention will hear from Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.