Companies to Watch 2023

29 Dec

By Dennis Ford, Founder and CEO of Life Science Nation, Creator of the RESI Conference Series

DF-News-09142022

For the past ten years, Life Science Nation (LSN) has built a global partnering platform that matches scientist-entrepreneurs and fundraising CEOs with capital, licensing and product collaboration partners. In that time, LSN has learned so much about what makes a compelling fit for our buyside partners. I have had discussions with hundreds of investors, and I always want to understand how their investment theme of seeking early-stage technology assets is balanced with the risk of going early. Unsurprisingly, it’s complicated, but it typically revolves around focusing on key attributes of the company, the science, the management team, key milestones already achieved, and the all-important data that supports that the technology is heading in the right direction.

Similarly, I have developed my own set of attributes that I personally look for when I meet the companies that are referred to me through LSN’s relationship with regional tech hubs, incubators, and accelerators or national government and state life science agencies. These are what I look for:

  • The Founding Scientist – Is there a scientist with a long lineage with the key science and the technology assets inside the company? A lot of the “new” technologies are actually the latest iteration of technologies that have been worked on for decades. When the scientist that is associated with that technology is still involved either as CTO, advisory or board compacity, that helps de-risk the opportunity. Having the world-renowned expert onboard and that thread of historical continuity provides not only perspective, but credence to the validation and the translating of the technology. Even if the assets are not that old, a thorough comprehension of the history, context, and potential to show future partners that the technology is in the hands of leadership with an appropriate understanding and appreciation of what it is capable of.
  • The CEO – There are a few categories of CEO that I see in many of these startups. Experience matters and which side of the house the startup CEO has been on in the past matters and will affect how the company addresses the challenges that will surface along the startup journey. Personally, I have an affinity for the CEOs who were mid-level executives in big drug or device companies, and who were responsible for managing and getting successful products out the door in the past. It is even better when one or more of those products was a blockbuster. This type of CEO that has been-there-done-that in a corporate play and now wants to take all that knowledge, expertise, and leverage it in a new startup. I then ask myself, “Can this CEO listen? Is he/she coachable with an ability to learn quickly and discern, accept, and apply sound feedback?”
  • Management Team – I like a diverse management team with similar experience as described above that augments and complements the CEO. A CEO should not surround themselves with a team that closely resembles their own strength and skillset. A savvy CEO will build a team with relevant experience and together possess expertise in how the game is played. They understand from past corporate experience when to hold them, when to fold them, and when to pivot. A diverse professional team that has seen success in the past and now wants to take their startup to the big leagues will generate traction and get their exit.
  • Milestones and Data – Show a cogent well-thought-out plan based on hitting realistic achievable milestones that will produce compelling, validating data to show that the product is on the right path and going in the right direction. CEOs and their teams gain credibility when they present this aspect honestly and correctly, and when they are not coordinated, they lose credibility, and thus a chance for partnerships. Having realistic milestones that will produce compelling validating data is crucial to partnering.
  • Entrepreneurial Agency – I have been talking about entrepreneurial agency for a while now. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. It’s the vibe you get, the confidence that is exuded, the passion, the professionalism, the unbridled desire, and determination. Entrepreneurial agency gives a company mojo which, in turn, creates positive propulsion forward. I mentioned that I like to see seasoned CEOs with experience in large enterprises that are now leading startups and taking their shot. However, there remain many seats at the table for the young, dynamic CEO that has followed their passion and their love for finding a scientific solution for an unmet medical need and wants to impact the healthcare arena. There are plenty of both types of CEOs in the early-stage arena, and that is driving this golden age of life science that we are all living in.

Keeping in mind the outline above, I would like to name my list of “Companies to Watch in 2023.”  I have been exposed to all these companies and have watched them as they have progressed and grown. I like where they are at and where they are headed. I have not done any scientific diligence or evaluated them for any other third-party entities. I have compiled this list to showcase these companies as potential up-and-comers in the life science arena for Next Phase newsletter readers and RESI Conference attendees. Companies to Watch in 2023… Drum roll please…

AVM Biotechnology is a clinical stage company advancing its small molecule, AVM0703, in a Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) no-option Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma/Leukemia (NHL). Led by a strong executive leadership team and global scientific advisory board, the company is planning for accelerated FDA approval in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a patient subset of NHL, and a commercial launch in mid-2024. Additionally, preclinical data suggests potential applications in solid tumors and autoimmune diseases. AVM has been awarded three Phase I NIH Small Business Innovation Research grants by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) as well as two Phase II grants from the same agencies. The company holds eight worldwide patent families directed to AVM0703 and has developed a robust and proprietary patenting strategy resulting in granted claims and patent protection that should extend to 2040. In a single, one-hour outpatient infusion, AVM0703 rapidly induces, expands, and mobilizes endogenous bispecific gamma delta TCR+ invariant TCR+ Natural Killer T-like cells by a glucocorticoid-receptor-independent mechanism. Durable Clinical Response has been achieved in R/R NHL/Leukemia including T-cell Lymphoma to at least 9 months with favorable safety results. AVM0703 also potentiates chemotherapy and CAR-T response in pre-clinical models.


BaeRyeo Innovation is a Jeju company specializing in Nitric Oxide based ingredients. Incorporated in 2018, we have developed a unique technology where we created a revolutionary new substance which could protect, prevent and even restore stiff and hard blood vessels, the cause of cardiovascular diseases.

Nitric Oxide Synthase weakens as we age so the ability to produce Nitric Oxide in our body decreases. Nitric Oxide has been termed the “miracle molecule” because of the long list of benefits it brings to our body. This is why it has been widely studied by scientists worldwide, hoping to use it as a form of treatment.

Our product, the NODT (Nitric Oxide Donor Transporter) increases Nitric Oxide in the body. Pre-clinical tests have proven that blood vessels of hypertensive rats do not burst even under 100% pressure and this discovery can definitely help people suffering from atherosclerosis which leads to coronary heart diseases, the No. 1 killer in America.

We have several other pre-clinical tests that show outstanding improvements from hypertension, diabetes, enteritis and enhanced immunity – all these being possible when we have sufficient Nitric Oxide in the body.

Our joint research with America’s Nitric Oxide specialist Dr. Joseph Bauer from Walsh Univeristy will commence this September to proceed our studies further in proving the vast capabilities of Nitric Oxide can bring to the human race.


Based on the research results of Professor Sang Sun Yoon’s laboratory at Yonsei University College of Medicine, BioMe Inc. was established as a faculty start-up with the aim of developing Live Biotherapeutic Products derived from human microbiome.

Through research over the past 10 years, we have secured a number of “Active Human Beneficial Bacteria” whose therapeutic efficacy has been verified. We conducted research on the intestinal microbiome as well as the respiratory microbiome, and derived development pipelines for various indications including but not limited to inflammatory bowel disease, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and dyslipidemia. In addition, we have secured a number of isolates with new functions among the strains designated safe by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and are developing jointly with domestic and foreign pharmaceutical and food companies.

Establishment of symBioMecollectionTM: Possessing a symbiotic microbiome library according to various lifestyles and health conditions (Over 400 people’s stool and saliva). Source material for identification of new beneficial bacteria. Joint research and development with lead pharmaceutical companies in progress.


De Motu Cordis is a clinical stage company based in Australia. We have developed a needle-free drug device combination for the immediate treatment of anaphylaxis. We successfully completed our First in Human trial in 2022. Our dry powder inhaler has performed 8 times faster than EpiPen™ in the clinic, it is needle free, it does not have restrictive storage conditions, it will have a long shelf life and is about one third the size of an EpiPen™. We are on track to lodge our NDA in Q4 2024. This is the first product from our platform technology for rapid administration of drugs in emergency situations, when every second counts. We will open a Series A round of US $20m in mid-2023 to take our product through an efficacy trial and pivotal study. We are in RESI to engage with investors and strategic partners to accelerate our path to market.


glyPAQ is a workflow for simultaneous preparation of biological samples for structure-based glycan and proteomics analysis

Key Features:

  • glyPAQ enables quantitative MS-based glycan structure studies without requiring pre-purification of specific proteins or specialized expertise for sample preparation.

  • glyPAQ utilizes multiple internal standards for quality control of all sample handling steps and to normalize LC retention times and aid glycan structure assignment.

  • glyPAQ can be applied for routine glycomic profiling starting with just 1 μl serum or plasma, providing an innovative strategy to develop non-invasive biomarkers for precision medicine.

  • glyPAQ can be used to simultaneously prepare biological samples for structure-based glycomics and proteomics analysis.


Hemex Health has launched “Gazelle” — a new generation of point-of-care diagnostics. Gazelle platforms combine proprietary technology with mHealth advantages to reach new levels of test accuracy and economic value. Gazelle”s market success is demonstrated in its adoption by small labs, clinics, community hospitals and NGOs in 26 countries. Hemex tests are easy to use, robust for challenging environmental settings, and digitally connected. Gazelle includes: 1) the only miniaturized, automated electrophoresis test for hemoglobinopathy testing in 8 minutes and 2) an advanced fluorescent immunoassay (FIA) technology with superior detection over other leading platforms. These powerful technologies can support a large menu of tests. Gazelle is also being miniaturized further into a palm-sized device”targeted for the US home market and exploding mHealth market worldwide.


Moremmé is a female & black-owned, development stage therapeutics company dedicated to providing products that are hormone-free, scientifically designed, natural solutions to Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). GSM is a term coined to comprehensively describe the changes that occur in women’s vaginal and urogenital tract due to loss of estrogen. These include vaginal atrophy with symptoms of vaginal dryness, irritation, pain during sexual intercourse, lower urinary tract symptoms of urinary frequency, urgency and recurrent urinary tract infections.

Moremmé is the result of a labor of love of 3 passionate female scientists. We are dedicated to empowering women with body-positive suite of products that preserve and restore vaginal health.


NeuroAge Therapeutics is a longevity techbio company that creates FDA-approved drugs to rejuvenate the brain and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease ($25B/yr global market). We will have earlier sources of revenue through first targeting rare neuro disorders through FDA fast track and a direct-to-consumer NeuroAge test. My team has more than 25 years of combined experience in this field from top institutions (MIT, U. Cambridge, UC Berkeley) and pharma companies (Sanofi). Here is a recent article in the Guardian that sets up the type of company that we are and the public appeal.


Suma is an online management system that simplifies and streamlines the licensing and renewal process for medical professionals. Initially, our product will target workers that have an increased labor market dropout risk yet are in high demand, highly diverse and have high care impact. Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA) and Home Health Aides (HHA) provide basic direct patient care, measure vitals and help patients with activities of daily living (ADL) such as feeding, grooming, bathing, etc. They work predominantly in nursing homes, home health agencies, hospitals, and other long-term care settings caring for the elderly, sick and/or disabled. These positions are held mostly by people of color, women, immigrants, low income and at-risk populations, and are considered entry-level nursing positions. There is an overwhelming need for these healthcare workers nationwide and creating an easy way to maintain their employment will provide resources for our economy and save businesses thousands of dollars every year.Suma is an online management system that simplifies and streamlines the licensing and renewal process for medical professionals. Initially, our product will target workers that have an increased labor market dropout risk yet are in high demand, highly diverse and have high care impact. Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA) and Home Health Aides (HHA) provide basic direct patient care, measure vitals and help patients with activities of daily living (ADL) such as feeding, grooming, bathing, etc. They work predominantly in nursing homes, home health agencies, hospitals, and other long-term care settings caring for the elderly, sick and/or disabled. These positions are held mostly by people of color, women, immigrants, low income and at-risk populations, and are considered entry-level nursing positions. There is an overwhelming need for these healthcare workers nationwide and creating an easy way to maintain their employment will provide resources for our economy and save businesses thousands of dollars every year.


High blood pressure is related to three of the leading causes of death in America: heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. As of 2017, almost half of the American population (roughly 108 million) had high blood pressure. There is a lack of technology available to individuals for monitoring their blood pressure continously in a noninvasive and affordable way, and prevent the development of diseases related to high blood pressure. Our team hopes to address the issues with current blood pressure monitoring technologies and save millions of lives by integrating the Vena Vitals blood pressure sensor with a single-lead wrist based ECG device to calculate pulse transit time and provide continuous blood pressure data in real time.

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