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Get to Know RESI Sponsor BE Health Ventures

26 Jan
Arthur Chen
Arthur Chen
Interview with Arthur Chen, Managing Partner, BE Health Ventures

By Caitlin Dolegowski, Marketing Manager, LSN

Caiti
Caitlin Dolegowski

BE Health Ventures is the largest institution in Taiwan with a venture fund and accelerator dedicated to HealthTech, MedTech and digital health startups. Based in Taipei, they leverage the unique strengths of Taiwan’s thriving ecosystem to position themselves as the gateway to Asia for both local and international startups. BE Health was a valued sponsor this past RESI JPM San Francisco in January. In the following interview, BE Health’s Managing Partner, Arthur Chen, gives us insight into BE Health and how they are serving both local and international startups.

Caitlin Dolegowski (CD): Please introduce us to BE Health Ventures.

Arthur Chen (AC): BE Health Ventures is the FIRST and ONLY hospital-backed VC in Taiwan. We launched the accelerator program in 2018 and have helped accelerate about 100 different startups since then, backed by the support of two of the largest hospital networks in Taiwan. The total fund raised by the alumni has surpassed $150M USD.

In addition to helping secure funding, our accelerator program provides non-financial resources to help our startups to validate their solutions and business ideas with our hospital partners. And through our venture capital fund, we invest in companies with exciting potential and help them expand across Asia.

CD: What are some traits of the Asian markets that are different from the USA or Europe markets?

AC: Asia contains 60% of the world’s population and continues to grow. It is estimated that by 2030, the region will also have 60% of the world’s population aged 65 or older. According to a recent report I studied, the total estimated healthcare spending in Asia alone is estimated to exceed $4 trillion by next year, with hospitals, home care, telemedicine, medical device, and drug development expected to lead the way. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region has far surpassed the United States and Europe in terms of the demand for healthcare. Currently, the market growth in Asia Pacific is 19.9%, much higher than the 10% growth rate in the U.S. and Europe. However, unlike the US or Europe, Asia is not a single market. We have China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia… and so on. Different countries have different regulatory paths, such as NMPA in China, PMDA in Japan, and each country also has its own reimbursement policies and payer structure; not to mention that cultural differences add to the threshold for overseas startups to enter the Asian market. Therefore, we have launched the accelerator program to help.

CD: What should we as investors be looking for from startups that want to enter the Asian markets? How do you evaluate whether they made the most of it or not, and is that a good indicator for future success?

AC: Given the diversity of country profiles in Asia, it would not be easy to successfully penetrate different countries’ markets to achieve scale. Each market takes time to operate because of the differences in culture and government health policies. We find that the successful MedTech companies would be those that can offer differentiated technologies that are superior to the competitors but partner locally to provide a customized solution to attract customers in different markets. The companies that can provide end-to-end medical solutions that meet the full range of each customer’s needs will likely gain more market share.

CD: On the topic of American or international startups entering the APAC region, what makes Taiwan an attractive launchpad? Why did you choose Taiwan, and what is your plan for the Asian market hereafter?

AC: There are many reasons why Taiwan is a viable choice to start your business in Asia. Here are some.

1) Taiwan is in the center of Asia: The average flight is 2h55m to six major cities in the western Pacific- Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. 2) Medical Resources: The NHI (National Health Insurance) in Taiwan has collected over 20 years of digitized, single-payer medical data. 3) Supply Chain: Strength in creating proprietary technology, R&D & manufacturing. 4) Convenient Entry for Foreign Talents: Foreign entrepreneurs can apply for the Entrepreneur Visa or the Employment Gold Card, both of which are routes for international talents to reach Taiwan. To sum up, Taiwan serves as an important bridge connecting the West to emerging Asia-Pacific markets. The geographical location of Taiwan makes it the perfect place to start your business in Asia, and then leverage Taiwan as a launchpad to expand your business presence to the rest of Asia.

CD: How would you characterize the current startup investment scene in Taiwan? What kind of opportunities should we be aware of?

AC: Startup investment in the health and medical sector in Taiwan has been heating up year by year. In 2021, the number of early-stage investments in this sector nearly tripled, with over 430 deals funded, reaching a record high. Cell therapy, CDMO, medical AI, and advanced medical devices are some of the hottest topics in Taiwan’s early-stage funding market, serving as the main drivers of this wave of healthcare investment boom. With new medical treatment and new technological breakthroughs, more ICT companies and cross-sector startups are expected to join the industry.

Due to the size and growth rate of the Asian healthcare market and the power of technology to transform the industry in recent years, more technology giants have chosen Taiwan as their base in Asia to form partnerships with the healthcare industry. For example, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have all set up offices and formed R&D teams in Taiwan. This trend of Taiwan becoming a medical technology cluster in Asia Pacific is already taking shape.

CD: What can BE provides for the international startups?

AC: BE supports both local and international startups to start, scale and grow within the challenging healthcare ecosystem in Asia. One thing that sets us apart as a VC is our unparalleled access to hospital facilities. In Taiwan, we partner with two of the largest hospital groups, namely Show Chwan Memorial Hospital and Taipei Medical University. And with these two partnerships combined, we can access about 15 hospitals across the Asia-Pacific region as well as IRCAD Taiwan, the largest non-invasive surgical training center in all of Asia. We offer an acceleration program called PoC (Proof of Clinical Evidence) for every stage of startups to use Taiwan as their launchpad into the Asian market, to verify product feasibility and market demand. The program recruits 1 batch per year and it follows a 20-24-week curriculum.

The BE PoC Accelerator Program provides the ideal opportunity for international startups to explore business opportunities in Asia. With our network of hospitals, startups can explore unmet clinical needs through needs validation, establishing a hospital pilot site, and access to medical resources. Startups interested in clinical trial, manufacturing, data access and fundraising resources will also benefit from our network across Taiwan and Asia.

We are now in the process of recruiting startups for a new batch. Startups interested in Asian market are welcome to apply! https://www.behealthpoc.com/

CD: We were thrilled to have BE Health Ventures as a sponsor and exhibitor at RESI JPM San Francisco! What were some of your takeaways from RESI? 

AC: The RESI conference connects startups with early-stage investors and strategic business partners. This year, we led 10 Taiwanese startup teams in the Pitch Challenge, many of which were highly rated by investors, and CytoAurora won second place. This is a proof to Taiwan’s innovative strength. As a startup accelerator and venture builder, BE Health continues to look forward to more cross-border collaborations, connecting the West and the East.

RESI March 2023 Digital Copy (FULL Banner Size)

Watershed Informatics Exhibit at RESI JPM San Francisco

15 Dec
Madeline-Kelly
Madeline Kelly
Interview with Madeline Kelly, Head of Sales, Watershed Informatics

By Caitlin Dolegowski, Marketing Manager, LSN

Caiti
Caitlin Dolegowski

Watershed Informatics’ intuitive Data Lab platform empowers our clients to design, execute, and iterate their own sequencing analyses, shortening time between iterations and enabling more efficient and effective experimentation. They expedite and multiply the development of targeted, breakthrough therapies and diagnostics. Watershed returns to RESI this January as an exhibitor. In the following interview, Watershed’s Head of Sales, Madeline Kelly, provides insight on how Watershed came to be, their technology, team, and target customer.

Caiti Dolegowski (CD): Please introduce us to Watershed. Tell us about your technology and platform.

Madeline Kelly (MK): Watershed Informatics is the first fully verticalized bio-IT platform. Our Cloud Data Lab enables life sciences organizations of any size to perform mission-critical bioinformatics analyses (such as bulk, single-cell, and spatial transcriptomics; WGS, proteomics, protein folding, AI/ML etc.) at an order of magnitude less cost and complexity than existing solutions. With purpose-built infrastructure specifically optimized for catalyzing the life sciences development pipeline, our product enables biologists to analyze their own data and bioinformaticians to rapidly prototype and deploy bespoke analytic workflows across an organization.

CD: Tell us about Watershed’s team?

MK: We are a team of expert bioinformaticians, software engineers, and biologists inspired by one mission: to enable all scientists – regardless of their programming capabilities – to leverage multi-modal data for building better drugs faster.

CD: Watershed’s Cloud Data lab can be traced to a conversation between co-founders, Jonathan Wang and Mark Kalinich. What was the conversation and how do they complement each other?

MK: Jonathan and Mark have been friends since their first day of MIT – they were actually next-door neighbors freshman year! As a software engineer, Jonathan has always been fascinated by high-performance computational infrastructure. He co-founded an algorithmic trading firm while still a student at MIT. While there, he perfected the tech stack required to democratize access to petabyte-scale ML infrastructure for software engineers and financial researchers alike. Mark is a Harvard-trained physician-scientist with nearly 15 years of translational research experience across diagnostics and therapeutics development. His mission is to improve the lives of patients by developing and deploying the enabling technologies required to bring therapeutics out of the laboratory and into the clinic. Their expertise and passions directly intersect at the problem Watershed solves: uncorking the bottleneck for biotech and pharma’s data-intensive research efforts.

CD: Who is your target customer? And what are the different offerings you provide your clients?

MK: Our target customers want to successfully and efficiently analyze their big biology data (most often -omics, but also protein folding and high content imaging) without the massive overhead currently required. (To learn more about what we mean by overhead, download our white paper). With our no-code / low-code / high-code interoperability, our platform is useful to biologists and bioinformaticians alike.

CD: Do you have a process for assessing your clients’ needs? How does that work?

MK: Watershed employs a highly consultative sales and onboarding process. We thoroughly assess the needs of our customers by learning about their workflow, analysis, and visualization needs. Our team of bioinformaticians are ready to assist our clients from day 1.

CD: Could you give us examples of current Watershed clients and how they’ve utilized your informatics?

MK: Some of our clients include SalioGen, Cellino, SynDevRx, Rejuvenate Bio, Rarebase, Revitope, and a few stealth biotech startups. Our customers’ most common request is processing next-generation sequencing data across a variety of workflows (bulk, single-cell, and spatial RNAseq; whole genome and whole exome sequencing, bulk and single-cell ATACseq, immune repertoire sequencing, CRISPR-based analyses, custom sequencing libraries, etc) and technologies (Illumina, ONT, PacBio). In addition to other data-intensive workflows (metabolomics, proteomics, high-content imaging, protein-folding) and publicly available datasets (TCGA, CCLE, GTex, UKBB), our platform has been purpose-built to overlay advanced AI/ML techniques on these data, including deep learning, generative AI, structure-based learning models, and NLP, among others.

CD: We’re thrilled to Watershed back as an exhibitor at RESI JPM San Francisco! What would you like our RESI attendees to know about Watershed

MK: We are excited to join RESI JPM San Francisco as first-time attendees! We want to meet as many of you as possible, so swing by our booth to check out our platform and enter for a chance to win 1 free month of Watershed’s Cloud Data Lab (details available at the conference). See you there!

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Vessl Prosthetics at RESI

1 Dec

By Rikki Piccirillo, Marketing Manager, LSN

RikkiCo-Founders, Sydney Robinson and Oleksiy Zaika of Vessl Prosthetics joined us at RESI Boston in September. With an understanding of the value of building relationships early in their fundraising journey, attending RESI made perfect sense. This team made the most of their time at RESI, researching attending investors, strategizing panel attendance, and capitalizing on every learning and networking opportunity that presented itself. As thorough and prepared as they were for their time at RESI, the same zest can be said for how Vessl Prosthetics came to be. In this interview with Sydney, you can learn more about their company, the product their developing and their strategy at RESI:

Registration is open for RESI JPM San Francisco, January 10 In Person at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel & January 11-12 online Virtual Partnering.

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RESI Returns this Month

1 Sep

By Rory McCann, Director of Marketing & Conference Producer, LSN

After a more-than-two-year hiatus, RESI Boston returns to an in-person format September 21-22 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel with an additional day for virtual partnering, September 23. In a recent conversation with Life Science Nation CEO, Dennis Ford, we discussed how RESI has evolved over the past few years, and also the features that make RESI unique and consistently powerful in early-stage life science and healthcare partnering, regardless of event format. We also discussed some new faces at RESI Boston and how we are celebrating our return to RESI’s hometown of Boston, MA. Check out our interview below and sign up to start booking meetings today!

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Building a Recession-Proof Company

25 Aug

By Rory McCann, Director of Marketing & Conference Producer, LSN

Fundraising in 2022 looks different than it has over the past decade in life science and healthcare. Navid Alipour, JD/MBA, is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Analytics Ventures and CEO of CureMetrix and CureMatch. We spoke recently about how local governments and organizations can set up startups to successfully navigate an economic downturn while fundraising. We also discuss, from an investor- and founder-perspective, how entrepreneurs can build and maintain a “recession-proof” team and fundraising process. Listen to our conversation and register for the upcoming RESI Boston partnering event, September 21-23.

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Preparing to Pitch with the End in Mind

14 Apr

By Rory McCann, Marketing Manager & Conference Producer, LSN

Bold Therapeutics is a clinical-stage pharma startup developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to combat drug resistance in cancer and infectious disease. At Digital RESI March, Bold Therapeutics founder Russell McAllister met success at the Innovator’s Pitch Challenge (IPC) and is sharing his perspectives from preparation to pitch to follow-up conversations. If you’re actively fundraising or considering pitching at RESI, check out our conversation and learn how Russell leveraged, not only his company, but his own unique experience to stand out at RESI.

IPC applications are still live until Friday, April 29. Get your application in by Friday, April 15 to save on super early bird rates!

Ascending the Steep Slope of Preclinical Fundraising with Prolifagen

24 Feb

By Rory McCann, Marketing Manager & Conference Producer, LSN

The Innovator’s Pitch Challenge provides early-stage founders with a stage to pitch to a panel of investors who are a fit for their product and stage of development. Votes had been collected throughout the week of Digital RESI JPM for best pitch and marketing collateral. Coming in a close third place, Prolifagen stood out among pitching startups.  In the following interview, Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. Claudine Bruck introduces Prolifagen, its early days and lessons learned throughout their early-stage fundraising – some of which should ring true for many preclinical therapeutic startups.


Rory McCann (RM): Tell us a little about yourself and how you started your company.

Dr. Claudine Bruck (CB): A native of France, I grew up in Luxembourg and obtained my PhD in Biochemistry at University of Brussels in Belgium. After a postdoc in Immunology at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University in Boston, I joined the vaccine group of GlaxoSmithKline located in Belgium, where I was involved in HIV, Human Papillomavirus, and therapeutic cancer vaccine research. I then moved to join the therapeutics part of GSK in the Philadelphia area where I held various roles across therapeutic areas. For the last five years at GSK, I built and led a department developing medicines for ophthalmic diseases.

When I left GSK in 2015, I was determined to use my expertise in drug development to build a company developing an important medicine. I scoured the technology offices of East Coast academic centers for opportunities that were fitting my selection criteria:

  • Medicine should address an important public health problem.
  • Medicine should be based on a novel technology.
  • Candidate medicine should be supported by very solid scientific evidence.
  • Development path should allow early risk discharge points.

This led to the creation of Prolifagen in 2016, based on the collaboration of Professors Ed Morrisey and Jason Burdick at the University of Pennsylvania. The great collaborative spirit of those two researchers and their passion for their project were further determining (and energizing) factors.

RM: What have the early years been like? How did you approach early-stage fundraising and growth?

CB: My initial thoughts were that fundraising should be easy for a company developing such an innovative and important medicine. I used my network to contact prominent VC investors and did many pitches. I learned that in 2016-2017, VC investors were still wary of RNA-based technologies (until recent successes by Alnylam, the Medicines Company, and of course COVID RNA vaccines), of regenerative medicine (many stem cell-based approaches had failed, due to poor implantation of exogenous cells) and of cardiology (investment in cardiology companies was minimal over many years, leading to the current scarcity of companies in this area). The sweet spot for VC investment is also mostly after preclinical data are complete, and we needed to generate data in a costly pig model before a decision to move towards clinical trials. We were unable to convince VC investors to invest. Overall, it has been a steep learning curve.

RM: What were some tools and strategies that have helped you? What are some that you’ve learned from?

CB: We found that our best option was to obtain an SBIR grant from NHLBI, which we did, and which allowed us to reach a first milestone of showing cardiomyocyte proliferation in pigs. We learned what investors are interested in – this can evolve over time – and are in a much better position now. I have also benefited from my interaction with Springboard Enterprises, a group that helps women entrepreneurs by funneling them through a bootcamp where they have access to extremely knowledgeable advisors. My recommendation after this learning experience is that it is extremely important for CEOs to build and maintain a network of people who are willing to provide advice and information.

RM: Where is the company now and what is some advice you’d give to another founder who’s looking to get to where you are?

CB: We are currently raising funds for a costly pig cardiac infarct model functional study. My advice to other founders is to actively surround themselves with a network of people who are willing to provide advice in the areas where the CEO is not so knowledgeable. If the founder has a drug development expertise, they will need advice on the business side. If the CEO is from the business world, a lot of input on the technical side will be required.

RM: What’s on the horizon? What are you working on and where is the company headed?

CB: We are now actively engaged in fundraising. The timing is right for this for several reasons:

  1. There is renewed investor interest in RNA technologies and regenerative approaches, as well as in CV projects.
  2. We recently reached a major milestone confirming that the cardiomyocyte proliferation at the basis of cardiac regeneration in mice also translates into pigs.

This will allow us to now embark on functional studies in pigs which we expect to support a clinical development decision. Beyond establishing efficacy in pigs, the extent of benefit observed will greatly inform our clinical trial plan. The minimum seed funding for that step will be $1.8M. A total of $5M will required to bring us to IND.


Are you looking to get your startup and technology in front of investors who are a fit for your product and stage of development? Start these important conversations at Digital RESI March’s Innovator’s Pitch Challenge. The application deadline is tomorrow, Friday, February 25. Get yours in today!

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