San Diego Snags Annual Conference on All Things Medical and Healthcare-Related

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego, which ranks among the premier regions in the country for innovations in the life sciences, has landed a conference to match. After a five-year hiatus, TEDMED is making a comeback, and the exclusive three-day conference on big ideas in healthcare and medicine, may be settling here permanently.

The revived TEDMED conference will be held at The Hotel Del Coronado from Oct. 27-30, 2009, jubliant San Diego officials said last week. The last TEDMED event was held in Charleston, S.C. in 2004. Organizers had been considering establishing the conference anew in Newport, R.I., home of the event’s founder, Richard Saul Wurman.

“Newport is great, but we could not find a venue as grand as San Diego and the Hotel Del,” said TEDMED president Marc Hodosh, a Boston entrepreneur (and Xconomist) who acquired rights to TEDMED earlier this year. He is organizing the event with Wurman, who is serving as chairman emeritus. “Ultimately, it was the support we were getting from San Diego and especially Qualcomm,” Hodosh said.

The fifth annual TEDMED event is intended to serve as the same sort of forum for mesmerizing, rapid-fire presentations about medicine, health care and life sciences that Wurman created with the original TED event in 1984. TED refers to the conferences’ focus on big ideas in Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and features brief presentations by such luminaries as Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, former president Bill Clinton and U2 vocalist Bono.

Wurman sold rights to the TED business in 2001 to Chris Anderson, who is organizing TED’s 25th anniversary conference in Long Beach, beginning Feb. 3.

“We are a completely separate organization now from TED, but we do share the same brand and founder,” Hodosh says. “We operate with the same philosophy and style. Every speaker gives a talk that is typically 15 to 20 minutes.”

Medical products goliath Johnson & Johnson is TEDMED’s lead sponsor, Hodosh said, and Qualcomm is serving as an underwriter. With a registration fee of $4,000 per person, the resurrected TEDMED continues to target the well-heeled corporate elite. If all goes well, Hodosh said he hopes to make San Diego TEDMED’s permanent home.

“It’s just such a beautiful environment,” Hodosh says. “Everybody loves the lectures, but it’s really the networking events, the mingling on the beach around the firepits that make it special.”

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