Recap of San Francisco Healthcare Conferences

With five or more conferences occurring just over a week ago in San Francisco, it seems nearly every Life Sciences company was represented by at least one senior executive. Also very impressive was the sheer volume of investors. Some of the notable conferences included: the Biotech Showcase, the JP Morgan Conference, and OneMedForum.

The event was the proverbial place ‘to see and be seen.’ The titans of Biotech and Pharma were out in full force. We were fortunate to attend the conference during the day and watch pitches from many exciting Life Sciences companies. The key takeaways from the event include:

1. While emerging markets are a focus, the largest focus is organic and inorganic growth in China
2. Leadership cultivation and networks is a new initiative in the biotechnology industry
3. Investors and “Big Pharma” alike are searching for investments; Big Pharma in particular has a keen interest in purchasing later stage companies to fill their pipeline with proven drugs, biologics, diagnostics and/or devices
4. The valley of death is more like a canyon for many early stage companies; we heard many stories of companies literally hanging on by a shoestring
5. Finally, everyone is looking for ways to transform R&D productivity – lower cycle times, lower costs, and fewer resources with high quality results. Biomarkers were one of the levers discussed extensively being that, in Research, they help with lead identification and lead optimization. In Development, they aid in accelerating trials and enabling Life Sciences companies to gather higher-quality data

A few companies to highlight due to their novel technology included:

* Cytori: Christopher J. Calhoun, Cytori’s Chief Executive Officer, did a wonderful job providing an overview of the company’s cell regenerative technology. He provided an example of how Cytori’s technology has been used for reconstructive surgery for breast cancer. Cells are harvested from the fat in one’s own body; therefore, this company circumvents key issues typically found that cover story of cell regeneration. In late 2010, Wired Magazine featured Cytori in their article “All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine”

* Echo: We also heard a great pitch from Patrick T. Mooney, MD, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. This gentleman had a company that has an exciting platform for glucose monitoring or dermal injection of drugs (without the dead cells). It’s nothing short of amazing. He dropped his device a few times, and it didn’t break! Very amusing, but, more important, the diagnostic is somewhat bulletproof! The ADDRESSABLE market size is ~$1B, so, possibly perceived as not so much given no one else is in the market, they have 100% share at present. They have already done two due diligences with very large companies

In the evening, we attended several social gatherings hosted by the industry Goliaths. Some notable social gatherings include:

* Burrill: Well, I must admit, because I personally like the Burrill analysis so much, I’m a bit partial to the networking event held at Burrill’s office in downtown San Francisco. It was simply awesome! There were probably more than 500 people there at the time my colleague and I were there, which speaks to the value that was being provided by this event

* Lazard: This gathering was simply amazing. I met so many of the best of the best that it’s difficult to begin naming names…but there are many

* Rodman & Renshaw: Another “WOW”; this was one of the first events at the beginning of the week. Much to say about this event, but this is a blog after all…

Other events of the week that we attended included:

* The Global Leader’s Forum where we had an opportunity to see Myrtle Potter and Dana Hee, Olympic Gold Medalist

* A panel on the future trends in healthcare; significant insights as it relates to the implication of “life diagnostics” on health

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