Conference could spark Italians' move into Florida
By Claudio Mendonça
The University of Miami and the Italian government are collaborating on the Italy-Americas Medical Congress, which could trigger business expansions here.
The first sessions of the conference, with more than 100 speakers scheduled, will be May 11-14 at the university's Miller School of Medicine.
The conference could spark Italian pharmaceutical firms to settle in Coral Gables and throughout Florida to reach North American and Latin American markets, according to Raul Suarez, head of Miami's International Affairs Coordinating Council.
Supporting the medical congress are US companies that have operations in Italy such as Stiefel Laboratories, Genentech and Amgen as well as Italian laboratories.
"What we are trying to do is help Italian pharmaceuticals reach the US and also penetrate Latin American markets using Coral Gables as their base," Mr. Suarez said.
The move of Italy's consulate from downtown Miami to 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables five years ago has been a catalyst to lure Italian companies to the city. With the binational initiative, pharmaceuticals could follow.
The Italian Embassy proposed the initiative in January 2004 when Sergio Vento, Italian ambassador in Washington, visited Miami for three days and expressed interest in developing study projects to promote scientific research.
The Italian government will work with the US government on the projects at an estimated cost of $25 million to promote scientific research.
"Last year, the ambassador said Miami is an important scientific community," said Paolo Romanelli, assistant professor of dermatology at the School of Medicine. "This is a great opportunity to showcase the school's medical campus."
At the time, Italy's consul general in Miami, Gianfranco Colognato, suggested a South Florida meeting with Italian physicians and politicians interested in a joint effort.
The aim is to bring together the Italian, North American and Latin American medical communities to tackle such health issues as bioterrorism, oncology and rare diseases. The project is to involve Italian and North and South American physicians and researchers. Objectives include exchanging medical and scientific experiences and information, planning projects to be based on agreements between Italy and the US and identifying new sectors in medicine.
A trade officer with the Italian consulate here, Roberto Tagliero, said the chairman of the University of Miami's department of neurology, Walter Bradley, was instrumental in exchanging information and technology with Italian government officials and physicians.
"We are bringing some of the top names in the various fields of medicine," Mr. Tagliero said. "But most importantly, it is a great situation for pharmaceutical companies to come to the meeting, participate and be part of a cutting-edge research and economic ratification."