Life Sciences Innovation Hotspot

LSIHS_April2016

An event has been organized in Geneva (Campus Biotech) in order to give an overview of funding opportunities in R&D in Switzerland. European as well as Swiss opportunities were explained, each time with insightful success stories and business cases.

That event combined both useful information together with relevant stories of companies having experienced the process, sometimes time-consuming but clearly worth the efforts.

Horizon 2020 was an extremely important topic during the event as Switzerland is now in a partial association framework with EC (Fact Sheet on the Status of Switzerland in Horizon 2020).

Below I summarized the key points and “take home messages” from the event in a MindMap format (much better than taking notes and reading them afterwards).

The event was organized by Inartis and BioAlps.

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Alphabet (ex-Google) is the next big thing in Life sciences

A lot is currently written about the initiatives launched by Alphabet (Google) in the life sciences field.

I had the wonderful opportunity to have a look at the report written by the internet analyst, John Blackledge, from Cowen and I must say that he’s very smart at showing the huge potential of the life sciences at the core of Alphabet (Google).

This report is amazing as it allows you to have a better understanding of what’s happening now inside Alphabet (Google). I summarized the key points/quotes from the report below and I added other articles at the end of this blog post. Moreover, I will update it frequently as the news come in. This is a fascinating topic, I really hope Alphabet (Google) would be able to replicate the same success it has built with its search engine.

Key quotes & comments from the report:

  • Expansion into health care and related segments allows Google to leverage its core competencies in Internet communications technology, data structuring and analysis, and fundamental process reinvention.

 

  • Specific areas of focus in healthcare include:
    (1) the sequencing the human genome and the rise of precision medicine: despite the monumental significance of mapping the human genome and the implications for drug discovery, this was but one step in a long journey that continues to this day. Moreover, genes are but one factor in disease, and little is known about what role environment and lifestyle play.
    (2) the digitization of health data is exploding, with a virtually endless list of sources that can offer insight into clinical data, drug studies and more. As more data is digitized, there will be a profound impact on how patient care is administered, how therapies are researched, and how drugs are tested. EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are crucial but implementation is very challenging. Harmonization and data aggregation need to find their way. Wearables are another interesting topic in the digitization of health data. Social media and discussion boards as well as patients website are essential parts of the system that must be closely monitored as more and more patients use those communication channels in order to provide feedback and comments on treatments and daily struggles with healthcare providers.
    (3) the shift to value-based care, where payments are based on the value of care, is driving a change in how services are delivered and how much consumers engage in the process. From a provider perspective, doctors are incentivized to manage patients to the best possible health outcome at the lowest cost. From a patient perspective,
    consumers are being empowered to take a more active role in their own health care.
    These health care trends are being accommodated by technology advances in areas such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing, all areas of Google expertise.

 

  • Alphabet invests in health in five different ways:
    (1) Google Life Sciences originated in Google[x], a research lab within Google that was funded by the company’s board of directors in January 2010 to pursue “moonshots”—audacious new projects that have a low probability of succeeding, but could be truly revolutionary if they do. The company views moonshots as critical in driving the true innovation required to affect revolutionary change and avoid the “incrementalism” or evolutionary change that tends to lead to corporate irrelevance over time. The Life Sciences team is responsible for such innovations as glucose monitoring smart contact lenses. With an expanding list of intellectual property, Life Sciences has begun to accelerate its collaborative efforts with third parties. The company is aggressively partnering with leading players in the health care space on a growing number of programs.
    (2) Calico’s mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. Calico was originally conceived by Google Ventures President and General Partner, Bill Maris, who observed that most companies seek to find treatments for disease and associated symptoms, but that none address the root cause of disease and death. He wondered if studying the impact of aging on genetic material could lead to the discovery of drugs that could address many age-related diseases and significantly extend the human life span.
    (3) Google Ventures has provided seed, venture and growth stage funding to a host of companies in diverse fields, but its stated focus is machine learning and life science investing.
    (4) Google Capital was formed to invest in later-stage technology companies with a focus on emerging technology leaders and potential disruptors. Unlike the earlier stage companies in Google’s other investment vehicles, the later stage companies in Google Capital tend to be fairly common household names. Although the stated focus of Google Capital is on technology companies, the collision of technology and health care is blurring the lines of what a traditional “technology” company looks like.
    (5) Google Core: Over time, Google has invested in numerous health-related initiatives within its main corporate division. These have tended to be very closely linked to the company’s core businesses, such as Search. Earlier this year, the company announced that it will add health information that has been fact-checked by physicians directly to search results. The company is also talking to the FDA about using search query data to identify adverse drug reactions.

 

  • Google’s Health-Related Focus Areas: regardless of where they are housed within Google’s corporate structure, most of Google’s health-related endeavors share common characteristics.
    (1) Longevity
    (2) Genetics and Chronic Care
    (3) Diagnostics
    (4) Diabetes/Digital Health
    (5) Medical Devices
    (6) Telehealth/Digital Health
    (7) Wearables/Fitness

 

  • Google’s health endeavors fit with the company’s goals of “making the world’s information useful” and helping millions of people. Indeed, Google believes that many of the same principles, techniques and problem solving capabilities employed by its software developers can be applied to the massive inefficiencies that exist in health care to create transformational solutions and medical breakthroughs that help people live longer, healthier lives. Health care ambitions can be summarized as:
    (1) Analyze: Analytics to inform decision-making and provide business insight
    (2) Attract: Attract health care constituents to platforms and solutions that drive engagement
    (3) Aggregate: Aggregate data from disparate sources onto the Internet or GCP

 

Additional resources:

Alphabet to help researchers predict disease – Financial Times – April 2017

Google Life Sciences Exodus – STAT – March 2016

Verily, Google’s Health Gambit, Is Stacked With Scientists. Now It Needs to Build a Business – ReCode – December 2015

Google hires mental health expert to lead new life sciences unit – Financial Times – September 2015 (Subscription required)

Head of Mental Health Institute Leaving for Google Life Sciences – The New York Times – September 2015

Google Bets on Insurance Startup Oscar Health – WSJ – September 2015

Is Health Care Google’s Next Big Business After Search? This Investment Bank Thinks So – Re/Code – September 2015

Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes – NPR – September 2015

Google’s health startup, AbbVie team up on drug research – Chicago-Sun Times – September 2015

Google Life Sciences Company Has New Deal, Official Nemesis in Diabetes – Re/Code – August 2015

Alphabet Breathes New Life, Resources Into Google’s Health Care Projects – iHealthBeat – August 2015

Google Health – Easy as ABC. Alphabet, Calico and the Aging of Humanity – What on Earth are they doing? – Digital Intervention – August 2015

 

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Google Willingness to Help Life Sciences – Wired

Google, or Alphabet, wants biomedical research and life sciences to be more than just side projects.

Several years ago, its efforts under way in that field were probably not considered seriously by the industrial stakeholders like Big Pharma and biotech companies.

Today it is different after several investments commited lately.

Discover more in the Wired article

 

Additional Resources

4 of the biggest healthcare challenges Google is tackling – HealthcareDIVE – August 2015

Here’s why Google Ventures invests so much money in life-science companies – Business Insider – May 2015

Andrew Conrad – Google Life Sciences – The 25 most influential people in biopharma in 2015 – FierceBiotech – May 2015

Google Continues To Build Upon Its Life Sciences Ecosystem – Forbes – September 2014

Meet the Google X Life Sciences Team – WSJ – July 2014

 

 

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Therapeutic Financing Rounds in 2015: Gene Therapy Outpaces Antibodies in Early Stage Investment

Great stats and insights on financing rounds up to now

Next Phase Newsletter

By Michael Quigley, Director of Research, LSN

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It is no secret that 2015 has been a highly active year for deal-making in the life science space.  However, what is often overlooked is exactly where in the space those deals are taking place. Life Science Nation’s financing rounds database contains detailed information on over 250 of these rounds that have taken place since January 1 of 2015. We track this data from a variety of sources however as many companies and investors chose not to disclose this information this should be viewed as a sample of the entire data set of financings. With this article will highlight what our data tells us about the rounds that have taken place thus far in 2015 for therapeutics companies around the globe.

The first cut worth examining is the types of technologies that received funding.

f1 Figure 1 | Source: LSN Financing Rounds Dataset |…

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2015 Design of the Year – Human Organ on Microchip – Financial Times

Innovation

Accelerating the path to market for drugs is the dream of many scientists. Reality is closer than you think…

A Financial Times article (subscription required) highlights this breathtaking innovation that could revolutionize the life sciences world.

“These new organs on chips will enable scientists and researchers to mimic responses to drugs and treatments in human tissue without recourse to animal or human testing”.

It will enable researchers and pharmaceutical companies to spend less time and money in animal models as well as in human clinical trials. It will also accelerate the development and allow patients to be provided with the needed drugs sooner than ever before.

Human organ on a microchip has won the 2015 Design Museum’s Design of the Year contest. Thought and developed by a cross-disciplinary team of researchers led by D. Ingber and D. Dongeun Huh at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, this chip is able to mimick several different types of organs. By using it, it will also be possible to see whether a patient would respond or not to treatments. Personalized medicine will be more precise and more targeted. Additionally, multiple chips can be connected to play the role of the human body.

Have a overview of the technology in their 2-minute video presentation:

 

Go deeper into this amazing technology and its potential application with the TEDx Boston talk by Geraldine Hamilton:

 

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None Better than One? (A Brief Note on VC in Smaller Hubs)

The Next Element

Biotech venture funding metrics continue at historic highs, highlighting that the robust financing environment in the public markets continues to fuel the private markets as well.

 – Bruce Booth, partner Atlas Venture in Data Snapshot: Venture-Backed Biotech Financing Riding High, April 2015

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, you might not know that was true if you didn’t read the news. The equity funding environment in smaller hubs (e.g. Madison) is different that in major centers of biotech (e.g. Boston, San Francisco). There are both old and new dynamics that make building the next big thing (quickly) a significant challenge outside the coasts. Today I wanted to look at one of the old dynamics that remains true today.

When out looking for venture funding, one of the early questions a biotech company located in a smaller hub will get is about their local VC – are they in on the deal?…

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How Big Pharma GlaxoSmithKline is managing its R&D Collaborations – Xconomy

SanDiego

Being close to scientific innovators is key

Cambridge and San Diego are two main centers for innovation in life sciences, according to GlaxoSmithKline. Actually the big pharma established a “first-of-its-kind collaboration” with San Diego’s Avalon Ventures in 2013; lastly it has opened a small office in San Diego to manage its R&D partnerships and to prospect for more deals on the West Coast. GSK also set up a similar outpost in 2014 in Kendall Square, the Cambridge, MA, neighborhood that has become the pharmaceutical industry’s East Coast hub and is close to Harvard, MIT, and the Broad Institute.

Xconomy article

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Nature Biotech Honors Some Of 2014’s Best Academic Startups – LifeSciVC

The editors’ selections of the top startups – 11 companies to follow!

power_buttonThis year they picked 11 companies to highlight across cancer, gastrointestinal, fibrosis, pain, and rare disease areas.

By way of background, Nature Biotechnology is the most widely cited journal for biotech, ranked #1 by “impact factor”, and its editors drove the startup selection process. Their methodology involved evaluating the list of new startups that raised significant Series A rounds last year, as “substantial funding” was their view of “commercial excitement” or validation. Then they selected companies where the underlying science was derived from academic labs and was sufficiently innovative to be compelling – essentially their editors’ assessment of the most exciting science. Nature senior editor Laura DeFrancesco and her colleague Aaron Bouchie then wrote up narratives describing each of the companies.

Have a look at this wonderful blog on Lifesciences    Nature article (subscription required)

New York biotech hub is struggling – Fast Company

The Big Apple’s biotech dreams are stuck in the Petri dish

NYCThe nation’s bigger biotech hubs, like those in Boston and the Bay Area, beckon promising biotech startups with their well-bred gene pools of talent, real estate, and investors. Even as the biotech industry as a whole reaches new highs, this is an ecosystem that New York City—home base to so many other industries—has struggled to build. There’s a deep incongruity here. The city boasts nine of the country’s top medical centers, and the state ranks in the top three for National Institutes of Health awards. Read more