On April 4, 2018 Dr. Abigail Barrow, Founding Director, Mass Technology Transfer Center and Conference Co-Chair and Jeremy Halper, Partner at Nutter McClennen & Fish orchestrated a great afternoon showcase of local NewCo companies. Merck Research Labs generously hosted the event. Like a mini JP Morgan, founders/CEOs were invited to make a ~20 min pitch of their company. This included the financial investment (ask) for the audience members comprised of angels, strategic investors and local venture capitalists. There was also a poster session for those who did not present.
Before kicking off the pitches, Nutter gave a general life science/healthcare market snapshot that included information from PWC Moneytree Q42017 report. A major take away was that late stage deals especially in pharma have grown to be much bigger and volatile. There is a trend for strategic investors to buy earlier then hope the IPOs happen except in the case of diagnostic companies where Dx companies usually need to be commercial before acquisition. Other trends include Big Data combined with Health IT and companies such as Philips and Google getting into the mix. Technologies to watch were Gene Editing, the microbiome, organs on a chip, immunotherapy and nanotechnology.
There were a range of companies presenting from therapeutics to medical imaging to digital health cos. Because of assortment of technologies and diverse audience, the CEOs/founders who were able to present at a high level, stick to a venture financing story vs a technical dive into the weeds had the most impact. Investment pitches that included stories of personal experience or commitment to a cause were particularly strong as a passion CEO with experience and a direct connection tend to be more resilient on the startup journey. Extra credit to Jill Wittels, Advisor to Ras Labs for jumping into replace the CEO last minute due to a personal emergency. Jill did an admirable job taking us thru the company overview, technology, market & application, commercial opportunity, competitive advantages and future financial plans for their synthetic muscle platform.
This annual early stage conference is an excellent one for anyone exploring what life science investor pitches work and which ones don’t while seeing local companies that are under the radar.
Examples of some of the NewCos companies presented:
SpectraWave: Spectroscopy to image plaque in arteries using differential absorbance to determine variation in plaque type for treatment determination in cardiac patients.
AMProtection: Proprietary coating to prevent antibiotic resistance that can be utilized on a variety of surfaces including urinary catheters.
Cytosolix Inc: Reengineering chemotherapeutic agents to selectively increase drug permeability in acidic environments such as solid tumors.
Myelox Therapeutics: Targeting the bone marrow microenviroment with fibronectin modulation for the treatment of leukemia.
Myos: Gene therapy for muscular dystrophy to deliver muscle cells to muscle site.
Ras Labs: Makers of Synthetic muscle, an electroactive polymer for the prosthetic market.
Thanikanchalam from Tufts: First wearable blood pressure monitor to enable data-driven management of hypertension.
VirTech Bio: Developer of a blood replacement product to extend organ transportation allowable time for transplants.
Want to see more? Here is the link to the conference booklet.