Biotech Showcase™ 2015 Day Three

January 14, 2015 Erin Righetti

Biotech Showcase™ 2015Biotech Showcase™ 2015 day three started off with the panel “Apps as drugs” moderated by Steve Dickman of CBT Advisors which gave insight into online and mobile apps and programs that augment disease platforms. There was interest in whether the apps would replace or work in conjunction with pharmaceutical diagnostics. There are wide variety of applications, from apps that help smokers change their habits to apps that help diagnose neurological symptoms. The big question on the minds of the audience: Who are the end buyers for these apps? Answer: Providers.bts15_packed_1-14-15

In the panel “Investing in the immuno-oncology revolution” moderated by Stephen M. Dunn of LifeTech Capital, discussion centered on the next generation of immunotherapies and differentiating PD-1 and PD-L1 biomarkers, and CAR T-cell therapies, and trying to get the speakers from AstraZeneca’s MedImmune, Merck Serono and Cellular Biomedicine Group Inc. to tell the audience which target they were banking on. Combination therapies, valuation, and pricing were covered, as well as the regulatory environment in China. “We’re in a completely new era in oncology,” said MedImmune’s Bahija Jallal. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”  With over 30 combination trials in more than 20 different tumor types, investors in the audience were eager to know where to put their money. Dunn asked the speakers: “The biology is complex; the investing environment is complex now, too. So how do we see through it?” Good question. Broaden your portfolio, manage safety and efficacy, and focus on cell preparation and assessment of your patient community.

Company presentations continued throughout the day with a break for the lunch plenary, “Are old funding models enough in a new era?” moderated by Luke Timmerman, Biotechnology Journalist and Author, formerly of Xconomy. In thinking about funding models, the focus is on new ways of funding innovation. 2014 saw the launch of many new venture funds, yet while late stage rounds have seen an influx of capital, there was a shortage of funding for early stage. The recession saw a culling of the herd of private venture, resulting in a set of very disciplined survivors. Companies faced pressure to perform, creating a solid group of disciplined companies ready to go public. This pressure affected both early and late stage companies, but early stage investment still lagged behind. In 2014, fundraising was overwhelmingly in favor of investing in existing funds. But those projects with real, meaningful potential still got funded. As well, there was investment in platform companies that take a lot longer to mature, which seemed to be an indicator that the environment is more gutsy. Summary: It’s easier now for good biotech companies and projects to get funded than any time in recent history.

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