The first conference of the Biotechnology and Finance Forum took place in Brussels, Belgium, from 12 to 14 May 1998, following an initiative by Mrs. Edith Cresson, member of the European Commission responsible for science and research. The Forum, a joint initiative of the European Commission (DG XII) and the European Association of Securities Dealers (EASD), aims to develop interaction between the biotechnological research industry and potential investors. The Forum was established with the objective of ensuring that innovative companies have access to adequate resources to develop new technologies, to promote entrepreneurial initiative, and to exploit research results. It also hopes to help ensure, and accelerate, expansion in research in biotechnology, an aim underlined by Mrs. Cresson in her opening speech. This speech concluded on the need for strategic alliances between knowledge and capital. The conference represented the first occasion, at European level, for the stimulation of interactions between the various key players concerned with biotechnology, namely biotech start-ups, scientists, investors and policy-makers. It attracted a large number of participants representing a wide range of industries, universities and research institutes, mainly from Europe but also from the USA and Israel. Key features of the conference included presentations of success stories from European biotech companies and presentations from venture capitalists on investing in biotechnology. The Innovation and Technology Equity project (I-TEC), the European Commission's pilot project to encourage early stage investments in technologically innovative SMEs launched in 1997, was also presented. Methods for promoting entrepreneurial training through universities and other initiatives were considered on the second day. Other topics discussed included emerging technologies and research fields, in the context of opportunities for scientific and bio-industrial collaboration, and how to promote interaction between biotech and financial spheres. The first meeting of the Biotechnology Innovation Symposium took place on 14 May 1998 and complemented the preceding conference by comparing national approaches, for example BioRegio in Germany, in promoting biotech entrepreneurship and identifying possible strategies to encourage synergies and ensure efficient use of research funds.