Life Sciences Leadership Summit
May 22, 2014 | WSU Spokane
Over 100 people gathered at the Biomedical and Biopharmaceutical building on the beautiful WSU Spokane Campus on May 22 to bring together leaders from across the state to share knowledge about major life science activities and initiatives. As always, the event provided a great overview of what’s happening in our region in Life Sciences, and served as a great venue to make connections and network. Special thanks to our keynote speaker, Aaron Martin fromProvidence Health & Services and to WSU Spokane for providing us such a lovely space to convene! We’d like to thank our sponsors of this event: BioMed Realty Trust, HDR Architecture, Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA),Inland Northwest Heath Services, Lee and Hayes, MPI Research, PAML,Inc., We Work for Health, and WSOS STEM Support Services.
Pub Night – A Terrible Beauty
May 8, 2014 | A Terrible Beauty Irish Pub
It was a typical spring day in Seattle, the kind of day where you’d rather head indoors and enjoy a pint. Good news is, the view from indoors was quite nice, nestled on the shores of Lake Union at A Terrible Beauty. The group was merry despite the rain and were treated to a nice spread of Irish inspired goodies (yes, those were Irish Nachos!) Special thanks to our event sponsor, Delta Dental, who not only provided the sustenance, but also a travel SoniCare for raffle! Take a look at our fun pictures on Facebook – to relive the day or see what you missed!
Advances in Vaccine Development: Setting the Bar for Excellence
April 30, 2014 | Agora Conference Center, WBBA Headquarters
Event Recap by Stella Lee
Chris Rivera, President & CEO of Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA), opened up the event by briefing the audience on WBBA. The non-profit organization was founded in 1989 and its mission is to help grow life sciences innovation and IT within the state of Washington. WBBA has helped the commercialization of 250+ startup companies while helping Washington maintain its leadership position in vaccine innovation. Rivera then provided a warm welcome to the keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Hadley (PhD, CMC Vaccine Development for Global Health Vaccines Development | The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
The purpose of Dr. Steven Hadley’s presentation was to inform the audience of the Gates Foundation’s global investing strategy in vaccine development and innovation. Since the Gates Foundation’s direct involvement in funding vaccine research, there has been a decrease in prenatal deaths of children under 5 years from 20 million casualties in 1960 to just 6 million in 2012. The Gates Foundation was directly responsible for $3.4B of grants in 2012, which were primarily spent on funding new vaccine technology and commercialization ventures. Dr. Hadley also mentioned a couple successful equity investments that originated from the Gates fund. Liquidia Technologies is a nanoparticle manufacturing company that fostered from the University of North Carolina and was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2012. Another notable investment was the Xpert MTB/RIF, an automated TB diagnostic test. A revolutionary technology for TB endemic countries, it was first developed in the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The Gates Foundation first funded this company, which caused a series of “catalystic investments” from other firms.
Dr. Hadley then proceeded to acknowledge the foundation’s goals of eradicating polio and malaria as well as reducing HIV transmissions throughout the global population. But of course with big visions, come big challenges. Dr. Hadley mentioned several scientific challenges that must be overcome to achieve his objectives. Scientists and researchers will have to develop novel solutions for weakened immune systems, further progress on single-shot vaccines and longer-lasting antiretroviral drugs, and look at combining vaccines to target multiple diseases. Some infrastructure limitations that must be tackled are to make vaccines heat-resistant and develop more innovative packing strategies. The speaker also mentioned how the excess quality restrictions of novel vaccines slow their eventual accessibility and that they must be accelerated. Other goals mentioned are to reduce the cost of priority vaccines and receive better, more robust medical from third-world countries.
Currently, The Gates Foundation is looking at 70-80 vaccine candidates for further investment as the program expands. The pipeline for malaria vaccination is looking at about 30 candidates to test for the next 3-5 years. Candidates for HIV antibodies (bNAbs) are to be tested for the next 3-5 years and, as the interest in HIV vaccines continues to increase, The Gates Foundation is looking forward to another “catalytic investment” to get launch new companies. Dr. Haldey says that the foundation is lead by its networking efforts between private and public sectors, PDPs (Product Development Partnerships). He is optimistic of the organization’s big vision even if it will require “hard work, and will be challenging.”
A panel discussion and an interactive Q&A with the audience followed Dr. Hadley’s presentation.
The panelists included:
- Scott Boley, PhD, DABT, Senior Scientific Advisor, MPI Research
- Janet Englund, MD, Professor of Infectious Disease, Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Erik Iverson, JD, President of Business and Operations, IDRI
- Stephene Rose, Senior Study Director, MPI Research
Some conclusions from the panel discussion were that advanced development of vaccine research has been difficult because of its dependence on grants from the federal government. Panelist Janet Englund states that the government has been “very fickle and less reliable,” which has been proven to be an obstacle for innovations in the biotech industry. There also was unison agreement that the increase of phases in the regulatory process creates a pressure to quicken clinical trials and consequently reduces the global accessibility to new vaccines.
Transforming Healthcare through IT: Investment Opportunities in an Emerging Sector
April 29, 2014 | K & L Gates, Seattle
Event Recap by Jessica Dinsdale
For the first time WBBA and the Technology Alliance co-hosted a healthcare IT event. Approximately 130 innovators, investors, entrepreneurs and other leaders gathered to network and hear industry experts discuss the opportunities and obstacles of healthcare IT and Seattle’s role in this emerging sector. The group also met local entrepreneurs with solutions poised to transform healthcare.
To begin the meeting, Rob Arnold, Partner at VantagePoint Investments, introduced the healthcare IT as the latest investment opportunity for Washington (review his slides here). Arnold discussed consumers’ desires for healthcare (such as the return of “house calls” and personalized medicine), providers’ priorities (including cost reduction and improved patient engagement), as well as cultural and other barriers that limit implementation, and the mounting pressure of new entrants, (including retailers and technology companies). He identified focus areas of innovation and charged the Seattle community to harness its expertise to participate more actively in this space.
John Koster, Former CEO of Providence Health & Services, moderated the keynote conversation that further examined the landscape of healthcare IT and discussed how Washington can succeed. The keynote panelists included: Todd Cozzens, Partner at Sequoia Capital, Mark Gargett, VP Digital Integration at Providence Health & Services, and Ralph Sabin, Managing Director at Fortis Advisors. Discussion encompassed the realities of digitization, reform, transfer of risk, and scientific advancements. Gargett identified the need for a fundamental change in the healthcare sector, which will concurrently address numerous such factors. This achievement will require a conscious and thoughtful joint effort: Cozzens highlighted the important roles of powerful healthcare systems, and academic institutions like the University of Washington, while Sabin drew attention to the progress attainable through the efforts of many unique entrepreneurs.
Following the keynote, Mary Haggard of Point B Management Consultants, and Joe Piper of Point B Capital captured the audience’s attention with an interactive exercise identifying local companies in the healthcare IT landscape by their role in either creating cost efficiency, unlocking data, or improving the delivery of care.
Next began the Innovation Showcase Fast-Pitch, in which nine startup founders and executives identified a pain point in the current healthcare model, and introduced a solution. Several of the startups have begun or are preparing to raise capital, hire, or form strategic partnerships. Presenters included: Ryan Luce of Corengi, Sean Bell of Owl Outcomes, Rachel Lanham of Health123, Kelly Altom of MedaNext, Adina Mangubat of Spiral Genetics, Brandon Masterson of 2Morrow, Bonnie Cech of CadenceMD, Anne Weiler of Wellpepper, and David Stone of TransformativeMed.
Christiana DelloRusso wrapped up the meeting by spotlighting Innovate Health, an initiative recently transferred to WBBA by Cambia Health Solutions. As part of WBBA’s long-term vision to support Washington in becoming a global leader in life science innovation and healthcare delivery, the organization is embracing the health IT/health tech community. Specifically, Innovate Health will increase access to capital, partnerships with payers, providers and customers, and build community. As a last word, Dr. DelloRusso encouraged attendees to remain active and participate in upcoming health innovation programs and events around Seattle.
Show me the Money: New and Old Strategies for Raising Life Sciences Capital
March 25, 2014 | Agora Conference Center, WBBA Headquarters
Event Recap by Karen Eaton, SEBA VP of Relations
Keynote speaker, Carol Gallagher (PharmD, Frazier Healthcare), opened the event by stating, “these are the best of times, and the worst of times,” when regarding funding availability for life science startups in Seattle. The “best of times” are linked to the current success of the biotech IPO market, while the “worst of times” are associated with the current contraction of venture firms available to fund early innovation. After digging through all the numbers, Carol believes, that we will look back ten years from now and see this time as an opportunity for growth and innovation like we haven’t seen since the 1990’s. Currently, the biotech index is up 79% since 2013 and investors are making significant money in this sector. There were 36 biotech IPOs in 2013 that raised 2.7 billion dollars, which is more capital raised in this sector than the previous five years combined. More close to home, Seattle is ranked #6 for the amount of capital invested in biotech startups, with a substantial amount of biotech VC firms in the Northwest, such as Frazier Healthcare Ventures, Amgen Ventures, as well as others. In conclusion, Carol believes that these numbers are skewed more toward the “best of times” and suggested that we should all start to “party like it is 1999!”
For the capital raising discussion, panelists included:
The discussion was kicked off by posing the question: What does the timeline look like for grants and other non-dilutive funding mechanisms and how do companies manage during that timeline? Chuck opened by stating SBIR grants can take as long as 9 months from the start of the application process to the time that the money is available, if successful in the process. It is also a good idea to have strong academic collaborators that have experience in these funding mechanisms and know the application process. Ultimately, these grants are a great source of funding for early stage startups, but during later stages it becomes harder to wait for long periods of time for money to become available. When discussing other avenues of funding, such as Angel or VC funding, it was recognized by the whole panel that companies should be completely prepared when they decide to start raising capital. Venture capitalist have a tough job and often do not have much time to spare. If a company is not fully prepared during their first pitch to a VC or Angel, they might burn their bridges with that particular firm. It was also suggested that companies know how to tell their story and to find the right people to tell their story. In the end, companies are not just raising money; companies are trying to sell or market their idea to VCs and Angels. The discussion closed by posing the question, “What are some things that Seattle can do as a region or community to attract more life science investment firms?” It was agreed upon that there is no right answer to this question and we, as a city, need to try new things to attract more life science investors. One thing for sure, is that Seattle needs to produce successful life sciences companies and even more importantly, state regulations need to support a growing VC and Angel community.
For the funding discussion, panelists included:
Even though all the panelists represented different funding agencies, most of the panelists agreed that it was valuable to be organized and prepared when doing a pitch. It is a good idea to know the audience and make sure to answer questions directly. Funding agencies also look down upon startups that consist of only academics, as these companies rarely have much business experience. It is important that startups realize their own deficiencies and are able to bring members on board that have expertise in that specific subject area. When the panelists were asked if companies should seek advice before applying to a certain funding agency, Arthur stated that AngelMD did not have much time to answer every question and it was expected that the company leverage network contacts first. On the other hand, all other funding agencies on the panel said that they are happy to work with early stage startups and make sure that the company and the funding agency is a good fit for both sides. Each funding agency on the panel made it clear that they have different funding criteria for early stage startups, however, it was collectively agreed that startups should have a good story to tell with an idea that addresses an unmet need. Knowing the IP landscape and the direct and indirect competition in the respective space will also help when applying for funding. These all might seem like trivial points, but not all applicants have a good understanding of this information and being prepared could set apart one startup from other unprepared startups.
J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, San Francisco
For the third year in a row, WBBA hosted a member suite and reception during the J.P. Morgan conference in San Francisco. This year, we had our member suite at the Handlery Hotel – across the street from the main conference. We had nearly fifty 1:1 meetings scheduled by members in the 3.5 days, and were over-subscribed. We are looking into the possibility of having two more rooms next year! We also hosted a reception for about 70 people on Sunday night. Thank you to our generous sponsors of this member suite and reception: Adaptive and Point B.
Bio on the Vine
February 2014 | The Woodhouse Wine Estates
This year's Bio on the Vine took us to The Woodhouse Wine Estates in Woodinville, where we tasted some delightful wines and got to hear first-hand from French Winemaker, Jean Claude Beck about why Washington is such a great place to make wine. Jean Claude wowed the crowd when he told the story of meeting famed winemaker Robert Mondavi – and he didn’t know who he was (until later)! He talked about Eastern Washington’s rugged landscape and how that barren landscape (and the cold, constant rain) can lead to just enough suffering to create a great wine. Beyond our speaker, folks were invited to network and given a complimentary glass of wine if they wore their Seahawks gear! To check out pictures from this fun yearly event, see our full album on Facebook. We’d like to thank our sponsors for the event – PwC and ZymoGenetics.
The Disruption of Healthcare Delivery: Game Changing Opportunities
February 12th, 2014 | Agora Conference Center, WBBA Headquarters
Event Recap by Kassandra Thomson
The U.S. healthcare system is undergoing historic reforms, forcing seismic change. How do we, as an industry that drives innovation, adapt? Disruption is the key word, and new models of disruptive healthcare delivery are apparent both inside and outside our current health system. This interactive panel discussion centered on disruptive healthcare delivery models in Washington.
Our esteemed panelists included:
Rob Arnold, Executive in Residence, UW C4C; Former CEO, Geospiza (moderator)
Ralph Derrickson, President & CEO, Carena, Inc
David Flum, MD, MPH, Associate Chair for Research, Surgery; Professor, Surgery, Health Services, and Pharmacy, University of Washington
Eugene Kolker, PhD, Chief Data Officer, Seattle Children’s
John Koster, MD, CEO Emeritus, Providence Health and Services
To kick off the discussion, Arnold posed the question: Why do we care about disruptive innovation in healthcare? The overall health of our country is not on par with comparable countries, despite higher spending and availability of high-end treatments. Healthcare expenditures account for 20% of the U.S. economy, an amount equivalent to twice the annual revenue of Walmart. The change from our current system will affect where this money goes and how healthcare will be delivered.
Discussion points were introduced with short video clips. The first was of Malcolm Gladwell asking the question: Is healthcare innovation a "Pablo Picasso” problem or a "Paul Cézanne” problem? In this clip Gladwell says innovation comes in two forms: radical ("Picasso”) and experimental ("Cézanne”). Koster thinks it is more like a Cézanne problem, where the challenge is to penetrate and change the current system. He discussed the need to offload risk to drive innovation, increase productivity, and decrease the cost of healthcare. Derrickson agreed with Koster, but insisted our current "system” is not a system, with no well-defined canvas on which to paint radical change. He believes consumer use of technology and data will be the sector that changes the most. Flum argued the question should be stated as a choice between two solutions rather than two problems, and believes that radical change is necessary and inevitable. Kolker believes we need a combination of the two, and we will learn by looking at the data as we experiment with different solutions. It will be much more difficult to innovate in healthcare than in other industries.
The second clip was from Atul Gawande’s TED Talk asking: What are the current cultural challenges to health reform from inside the health system? Gawande states that it is the task of our generation to make our healthcare system work. Flum says in our current system, making quality improvements in patient care is "above and beyond” the fee-for-service model, and that this will change with a new system. Koster stated healthcare is intensely political, and any solutions must consider the wide range of cultural and belief systems across our country. Kolker believes we need to translate data into action, because data is apolitical. This will take time and will result in multiple diverse solutions. Derrickson agreed that solutions will be iterative, and the correct framework in which to collect this data will make it more valuable. He emphasized that physicians are a highly qualified group of people to drive change in the system. Flum concluded with saying we are collecting data on what we are asked to track (such as infection rates), but not on the one data point we should have been tracking all along – is the patient actually getting better?
The next video showed John Scully discussing the world of innovation from the consumer point of view. He asked the question: Are consumers, providers, and payers ready to fully welcome new health delivery models like this? Derrickson believes there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of changing consumer values based on convenience to drive systemic improvements. Consumers value healthcare based on how well their needs are met, and new care models offer more entry points for patients to receive care. Koster stated consumers are segmented, and healthcare innovations will need to be disruptive in defined segments. Arnold asked whether Seattle will be able to drive disruptive innovation, to which Derrickson replied there is no better place for this than the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is a collaborative community that embraces technology and innovation. Flum pointed out there are 55 hospitals in Washington that are all sharing data practically in real-time, a scenario unique to this state. This kind of collaborative environment promotes innovation.
The final video was of Larry Smarr asking: We also know that healthcare is going digital and consumers will have access to their personal health data. What will this mean for consumers and providers in the future? Koster says the three major trends in healthcare are 1) individualization of consumers, 2) digitization, and 3) continual disruption in technology. He believes we will find a way to use all of these to customize medicine. Flum stated current systems tend to think of patients as part of a population rather than as individuals, and that major disruption in this point of view is coming. Derrickson believes people will want to preserve their individuality in future systems. Kolker says we will need to learn how to deal with data on a per-patient basis, and doesn’t believe the system is ready for this yet. He reiterated that data translation will be a key part of this adjustment.
Arnold then opened things up to the audience by asking: What will the healthcare environment look like in 5-10 years? Responders believed we will see a continuum of emergence and disruption of systems, of the level of consumer understanding, and of the resulting behavioral changes. Derrickson says employers and insurance companies currently have conflicting business models, and believes if consumers understand the consequences and costs of their decisions then our situation will improve. Flum fears the need for cost-containment might have a negative effect on innovation, and Koster cautioned that political healthcare decisions are not necessarily aligned with what is best for patients.
The discussion concluded with Arnold stating a few key takeaways:
We are in a huge time of change and disruption, and this will continue in the future
- Physicians and patients will be key drivers of change, rather than the government
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