Tag Archives: life science nation

In Mental & Behavioral Health, Investors Find Challenges and Opportunities

28 Jun

By James Huang, Research Analyst, LSN


Mental and Behavioral Health contains many highly prevalent but stigmatized health conditions, which can lead to a lack of interest from investors, therefore prolonging the development of treatments for these conditions. The Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Boston Summer Conference on June 4, 2018 included a panel devoted to “Investing in Mental and Behavioral Health” to shed light on the subject. Despite the stigma associated with mental and behavioral health, there are investors working in the space to identify and fund digital health solutions for these high-need conditions.

For the panel, five mental and behavioral health experts shared their insights on the advancement of digital health solutions for mental and behavioral health conditions. The panelists covered topics such as: the current progress, areas or technologies that may raise skepticism, what they hope to see in the future, and whether investors face a similar stigma for targeting these specialized companies.

The discussion between the panelists brought to light many issues, such as hesitancy to work with passive data collection in a space with sensitive information, and a reluctance to diagnose these disorders in primary care due to an inability to treat effectively. The discussion on passive data collection and the skepticism around it is particularly thought-provoking and discussed thoroughly in the second clip highlighted below. You can watch and learn from the panelists insights regarding each of the prompts listed.

Moderated by Julie Papanek Grant, Partner at Canaan Partners, the panel included:

  • Justin Baker, Scientific Director, The McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry
  • Ken Duckworth, Senior Medical Director for Behavioral Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
  • Robert Garber, Partner, 7wire Ventures
  • Eric Schaeffer, Senior Director, Neuroscience Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Where Do These Investors See Progress?

What Areas/Technologies Are These Investors Skeptical About?

What Types of Technologies Do They Want to See in This Space?

Is There a Stigma Towards Investing in Mental and Behavioral Health?

As Robert Garber from 7wire Ventures mentioned, digital health solutions for mental and behavioral conditions, was not thoroughly reviewed at all when he first explored investment opportunities in 1996 despite the prevalence of mental health being ignored. Since then the topic is more openly discussed, so investors have seen a floodgate open resulting in a substantial increase in startups focused on mental and behavioral health.

As Ken Duckworth from BCBS of Massachusetts states, given the long history of prejudice and injustice for those suffering from mental and behavioral disorders, there’s a hesitancy to provide data given privacy concerns. While there still aren’t any solutions to adequately protect privacy concerns, this panel hopes to bring an even wider audience to the discussion to advance further ideas and potential treatments.

This panel will continue to be part of the agenda during RESI Healthtech Week featuring new voices and expertise, so if you’re interested in watching the live discussion on this topic, please be sure to join us there on September 6, 2018 too.

RESI Healthtech Week Announces the First Coast Innovation Challenge on September 5th, And the RESI Global Innovation Challenge on September 6th

21 Jun

By Samuel Rubin, Business Development Manager, LSN

For the first time this fall, Life Science Nation (LSN) will have two days of competition as part of the RESI Healthtech Week (September 5-7, 2018). Day 1 will feature the First Coast Innovation Challenge, where the top 10 ranked companies of the First Coast tech hubs will present their technology as a 10-minute pitch to a panel of early-stage investors. Day 2 features the traditional RESI Innovation Challenge, where the top 30 companies who apply are chosen to showcase a poster on the RESI Global Partnering Conference Exhibit Hall.

LSN is proud to now include presentation opportunities for top technologies from the First Coast that have recently moved out of the lab and are ready to target grant, angel, and seed funding. The First Coast Innovation Challenge on Day 1 complements the RESI Global Innovation Challenge on Day 2, offering greater investor exposure to companies from the earliest stage to more established startups that are looking globally and seeking funding from institutional investors.

Applying for the Innovation Challenge at RESI Healthtech Week Will Boost Your Exposure with Investors

Those selected to be Innovation Challenge finalists will have the potential to dramatically increase the number of meaningful investor relationships they build. The objective of most early-stage companies and tech hubs attending RESI Healthtech Week is to have one-on-one meetings with investors who are a fit for them. The Innovation Challenge expands on the RESI Partnering Forum, providing an avenue to directly showcase to the whole investor audience, in addition to booking formal one-on-one meeting opportunities. Investors attending RESI Healthtech Week know that Innovation Challenge finalists are selected based on credentials for success and will be inclined to engage with these companies.

First Coast Innovation Challenge VS RESI Global Innovation Challenge

All registered attendees who qualify for Day 1 – First Coast Innovation Challenge are also eligible to apply for Day 2 – RESI Global Innovation Challenge. You must be a Qualifying First Coast Day 1 registrant to apply for the First Coast Innovation Challenge.

Qualifying Day 1 First Coast Innovation Challenge participants are the constituents of northeast corridor incubators, accelerators, tech transfer offices, university translation initiatives, hospitals, and research labs. Day 2 is open to all global attendees – scientist-entrepreneurs, fundraising CEOs, and the First Coast.

Selected finalists on Day 1 will pitch to global investors, while the selected Day 2 finalists will showcase their poster in the exhibit hall and will be eligible for the prizes awarded to the top Day 2 participants.

Innovation Challenge Application Open Now!

The online application for the Innovation Challenge officially opens today! We welcome applications both for Day 1 – First Coast Innovation Challenge, and Day 2 – RESI Global Innovation Challenge. The application deadline is Friday July 27, 2018 for both competitions.

If you are accepted as a finalist, we will notify you by Thursday August 9th, and you will have until Thursday August 16th to confirm your participation and register for RESI Healthtech Week.

The LSN Review Team and the 300+ investors attending RESI Healthtech Week look forward to learning more about your unique technologies!



MaRS Collaborates with Life Science Nation and Johnson & Johnson Innovation to Host RESI in Toronto

12 Apr

TORONTO – April 12, 2016 – MaRS Discovery District (MaRS) is collaborating with Life Science Nation (LSN) and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS (JLABS) to bring the Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference to Toronto on June 23, 2016.

The RESI Conference series brings together fundraising CEOs and early stage investors from around the globe, providing the opportunity for dialogue and relationship building, with the goal of eventual capital allocations.

“MaRS supports over 250 Canadian-grown early stage health technology startups,” said Dianne Carmichael, managing director, health innovation & venture services at MaRS. “Our goal is to provide these young emerging ventures with the best connections to investors and industry to help them scale internationally. The Redefining Early Stage Investment (RESI) conference series has a strong track record of attracting global early stage investors. We’re delighted to bring them to MaRS this summer to build on the success of our HealthKick conferences.”

RESI on MaRS will connect cutting-edge health technologies with a broad audience of investors and industry leaders, including: angel syndicates, private wealth firms, corporate venture capitalists, venture philanthropy groups, foundations and endowments, big pharma and virtual pharma companies, mid-level private equity firms, government organizations, and venture capital investors. The conference will also include 16 panel sessions with pharmaceutical, medical device, biotech, consumer health and healthcare IT investors.

The annual MaRS HealthKick Innovation Challenge will happen this year as part of RESI on MaRS. The Dragons’ Den-like Challenge sets 30 selected companies up to demonstrate their technology and business while competing for prizes in a full-day exhibition to investors and potential partners.

“The MaRS Centre in Toronto represents the 4th venue for our North American RESI Conference series. Now fundraising CEOs and scientist entrepreneurs can meet investors every 90 days — Boston took place in September (RESI Boston), San Francisco in January (RESI @ JPM), Houston is in April (RESI @ TMCx) and now Toronto in June (RESI on MaRS),” said Dennis Ford, CEO at LSN and creator of the RESI Conference Series.

Speakers and participating health ventures will be announced in April.

About MaRS Discovery District

MaRS Discovery District in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs, supporting a new generation of makers and innovators who aim to make the world a better place by creating solutions that address key societal challenges. It is a community that encourages entrepreneurial thinking through education programs and events, and helps startups launch, grow and scale. MaRS supports over 1,000 ventures.

About Life Science Nation

Life Science Nation (LSN) accelerates the funding of early stage life science firms through its Match.com-like sourcing platform for private investment and enables CEOs to be more efficient in their capital-raising efforts. LSN owns and operates the Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) conference series.

For more information, please contact the RESI Team at resi@lifesciencenation.com or 617-600-0668

A Word on Emerging Clusters

20 Nov

By Jack Fuller, Business Development, LSN

As a Boston-based company, Life Science Nation is by all accounts located in one of the greatest life science hubs in the world. An emerging company that can claim residence in Kendall Square somehow finds a certain level of implied acumen simply by virtue of being there. Investors also tend to gravitate toward the east and west coast “superclusters” when setting up offices. So how do companies outside of these geographic areas find and engage potential investors, given this apparent disadvantage?

Emerging Bioclusters such as St. Louis, Chicago, Colorado, and Florida – to name a few – have been growing through a combination of university, government, and private initiatives. Each cluster brings a unique dynamic of infrastructure and resources that have allowed the formation of innovative companies. I have spoken with several individuals at regional investment organizations who suggest that these are vibrant, growing communities of first class entrepreneurs and scientists.

As important as a regional network may be, an executive in an emerging cluster must maintain a global perspective. Any person looking to raise capital in today’s life science industry needs to think and act globally. Local investors and clusters are excellent at taking the first step, and have great experience in new company formation. Typically, good science and a solid management team are able to seed a company. However, in an emerging cluster, the funding gap between seed and a substantial series A tends to be larger than on the coasts.

Companies in emerging clusters have a few interesting value propositions they can distinctly take advantage of. First, many clusters are established around high-quality research institutions that provide a steady supply of qualified talent and innovation. Similarly, other clusters are home to major players in non-traditional “biotech” spaces such as AgBio and healthcare IT that can be taken advantage of when establishing local infrastructure and expertise.

One of the most important factors to an investor is the return per dollar invested.  There is a significant reduction in the cost of running a biotech company outside of Boston or the Bay area. When done correctly, a company can stretch $3-4M in the Midwest, to the equivalent of $6-7M on the coast. This decrease in operating costs means bigger returns for the investor. Investment in emerging clusters has been underfocused, and a savvy entrepreneur needs to leverage the regional momentum and resources available to become even more attractive than a similar company based in a major cluster.

When targeting global investors, the capital efficiency and strength of the management team become key factors in attracting significant interest. The question many investors will ask is: is this team going to be able to execute? The history of success stories, while present in emerging clusters, is still an area of concern to an investor.

All life science companies face the same challenges when raising capital. However, companies in an emerging cluster now have an opportunity to take the leap to the global stage. Take the question of execution out of the picture, and highlight the significant upside of investing in a company based in your region.

The Quest for the Perfect Investor Fit: How Much Does Life Science Expertise Matter?

2 Oct

By Danielle Silva, Business Development, LSN

Here at LSN, I speak with many life science entrepreneurs about investor fit. Typically, life science executives believe that fit is a one-way street, meaning that they need to do all they can to prove they are a fit for a prospective investor. While it is certainly true that an integral part of the fundraising process is proving that your company is a fit for the firm’s investment thesis, this is not a one-sided negotiation. It is just as important for life science companies to make sure a potential investor is a fit for what the firm is looking to attain, and therefore, finding a potential investor needs to be both a strategic and tactical play.

What many life science CEOs struggle with is whether they should favor investors that have expertise in a particular area versus investors that are experienced in a certain phase of development. The answer, by and large, depends on what the life science company is looking to achieve in the long run, but there is of course no easy answer to this dilemma. Many entrepreneurs consider the problem a simple one – why would you want an investor that doesn’t understand your technology, or one who does not have expertise in your particular indication area?

While it is certainly important for investors to have a basic understanding of your disease area, this is only truly important if you are seeking scientific advisors for your firm. If this is the case, then finding a partner that has expertise in your disease area may be favorable to finding an investor that has knowledge of your stage of development. But what if, conversely, the executive is seeking a quick exit or a recapitalization? In this case, it may be more attractive to find an investor with a laser focus on your particular area. These investors already have a great knowledge of the space and thus probably already have a solid network that will be willing to acquire the company once the firm hits certain milestones.

Most life science executives I speak with, however, are not seeking scientific advisors, and instead are seeking investors with the business acumen to help take their product from discovery to distribution. These companies would benefit from a relationship with an investor that has knowledge of their particular phase of development, and who can thereby help to scale their business. It is also very beneficial for companies to be partnered with investors who have a deep knowledge of their phase of the clinical development cycle. These investors will have the expertise to help life science firms partner with appropriate firms in the R&D services space (such as CROs and other service providers).

Again, there is no clear solution to this problem. If your company is seeking an investor with a deep network in the space, then choosing an investor with sector expertise may be the answer. These investors, however, may not be able to help you scale your business to the point where your firm is an attractive investment or acquisition target for a larger investor within their network. Simply put, the answer is convoluted, no investor is the same, and everyone brings something different to the table. Life science executives should clearly define their goals in terms of growth and exit before deciding on an investor based on sector fit versus development phase fit.

Creating a Dialogue with Life Science Investors

2 Oct

By Dennis Ford, CEO, LSN

I write about this subject often – I guess the main reason is that if I can get the message right, I can help educate life science fund-raisers that a current and accurate map does exist for raising capital. If you are in fundraising mode, please have an updated map. There, I said it!

The most interesting component of the fundraising dynamic is the concept of “introduction”. Scientist meets investor, buyer meets seller. One of the initial goals of any fundraising campaign is to get in front of potential investors, and this can be done in two general ways: the first being referral, and the second, fit. I will agree that a referral is often a good way to get a meeting, but many believe that it is the only way to get to a decent investor target.

Being a street-savy salesperson, I always get a bit riled when someone announces that referrals are the only way in. I mean, what if you get referred to an investor and he just simply doesn’t have a current mandate to invest, and if he did, it would be a medical device and you happen to be a therapeutic? My point here is that even though a referral may get you some preferential treatment in the form of a first meeting, there always needs to be a good fit. After all, it’s the final meeting that really counts. I am a big fan of the referral, but I am an even bigger fan of fit.

In my “sales guy mind,” the highest form of a qualified investor lead is a declared fit. A declared fit boils down to this: an investor actively declares a targeted and specific intent on investing in a certain part of the market. I think that is the highest form of investor target – self-declared mandate from the mouth of an potential investor. I mean, what else would a fundraiser want? OK, maybe I shouldn’t have asked that question… because I know the answer: a referred introduction, right?  No, wrong!

Of course, if you know someone who can provide an intro, that’s great. Sans that magical referral/intro, if you are a fit for the declared mandate, all you have to do is tell him via email or phone that you know what they are seeking and you are a fit. Honestly, that’s how it works. Spamming gets you a 1-2% hit rate, but reaching out based on fit gets you a 20-30% hit rate. Why? Because you match what the investor is looking for. Being armed with the knowledge of an investor’s current interest gives you the power to refer yourself.

Phase I of the JOBS Act: Are you ready for the general solicitation revolution?

2 Oct

By Lucy Parkinson, Research Analyst, LSN

Back in April 2012, the JOBS act was passed with the aim of (the clue is in the name) Jumping Our Business Startups. The SEC has moved slowly on implementing the JOBS Act and is saving the most innovative provisions for a second phase of changes, but as of Monday, September 23rd, the long-standing ban on making general solicitations to accredited investors has been rescinded. This will have a huge effect on the institutional landscape of investing, as companies can now use mass public advertising to look for investors, rather than being restricted to using funds from family, friends, and private networks of accredited investors.

So does your start-up’s fundraising campaign have to change? Not necessarily, but you may reap great benefits by using the new regulations to your advantage and seeking for investors with a wider net than was previously possible. However, obeying the restrictions surrounding general solicitation is not as straightforward as you might think. As such, any company looking to raise capital would be advised to spend some time with their lawyer before sending out a mass solicitation; similar to the domain of intellectual property, we could see an influx of law firms seeking to partner with emerging biotech companies to guide them through the regulatory quagmire and maximize their visibility with investors.

While many life science companies could benefit from following the new path laid out for general solicitations, some may wish to eschew the added regulatory burdens and stick with the old model that, in addition to accredited investors, allows them to ask up to 35 unaccredited friends and family to contribute to each funding round. This doesn’t mean foregoing all the benefits of the law; the investment groups themselves will have more room to advertise for contributions under the new law, and that may lead to investors having more dry powder to invest – particularly to under-the-radar angel firms, who have previously found it hard to advertise to prospective investors. Building partnerships with these lesser-known investors will remain as important than ever.

Will general solicitation be worth the added costs? It could be, and this is especially true for life science companies. One thing LSN has observed frequently about emerging types of investors in the life science space is that more so than investors in other industries, they often have personal motives. Essentially, what we’re seeing is funding provided by angels, family offices and venture philanthropy funds looking for more than just ROI – the founders of these investment vehicles often want to make an impact on the world by targeting a particular disease that has affected their life or runs in their family. So, when we start to see general solicitations blaring from every billboard, TV set or web search, life science pitches will have a unique draw that other startup prospects lack because in this industry, general and personal come together.

This distinction will only become more valuable when phase two of the JOBS Act rolls out equity crowdfunding. For that, we’ll have to wait until next year.

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