Event Archive

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. 

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
•    Stay involved in the discussion

VIP Forum with Novo Nordisk

December 5-6, 2013 | Agora Conference Center

Since opening a new research center in Seattle in 2009, Novo Nordisk continues to increase their profile and presence in Washington.  On December 5th, executives from the Danish headquarters and the local research center visited the WBBA for our last VIP Forum of 2013.  Over 70 attendees from across Washington and British Columbia attended a Plenary Session and Networking Reception during which Novo executives outlined the history of the Seattle Research Center, explained their partnering strategies and sourcing process with academic researchers and startup companies, and discussed a lesser known interest of Novo Nordisk: their expanding presence in inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

The following day, executives from Novo Nordisk’s Biopharmaceuticals and Diabetes and Obesity divisions met one-on-one with fourteen WBBA member companies and research groups to discuss future partnership opportunities. 

2014 will be another busy year for our VIP Forums, with Sofinnova Ventures scheduled for March and Eli Lilly scheduled for April.  Keep an eye out for announcements in 2014!

VIP Forums are generously supported by Cooley LLP, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Knobbe Martens.  If your organization is interested in sponsoring a VIP Forum, information can be found in the WBBA’s Sponsorship Prospectus.

November Pub Night – Von Trapp’s

November 20, 2013 | Von Trapp's, Seattle

On November 20, more than 80 bocce ball players & bier enthusiasts came out for WBBA’s final pub night of 2013.  The competition was fierce, the beers big (1 liter glasses!), and the food was made of Bavarian dreams. We’d like to thank everyone who attended. A special thank you to Wells Fargo Insurance Services for the tasty food; and to the Seattle Mariners and Von Trapp’s for the prizes, which included Seattle Mariner posters and t-shirts, a Felix Hernandez “perfect game” commemorative plaque, and a Von Trapp’s stein and t-shirt – made to look like Lederhosen!  Our next social event will be in February – watch for more information on next year’s installment of “Bio on the Vine!”

The Future of Your Medical Device Company

November 6, 2013 | University of Washington, Bothell


WBBA’s November event, “The Future of Your Medical Device Company” drew nearly 70 registrants from across the state to the University of Washington, Bothell campus to hear industry experts’ take on recent trends and rule changes in IP, financing, and regulatory affairs.

Attendees were welcomed to the event by UW Bothell’s new Chancellor, Bjong Wolf Yeigh, who described in detail the exciting growth coming to their campus in the next year. After his introduction, our presenters took the stage. During the first portion of the evening, attendees heard from Wende Hutton (General Partner at Canaan Partners), Eric Wengreen (Registered patent attorney), and Mike Willingham (VP of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs, Caradigm) about the state of the industry’s venture finance atmosphere, changing IP law and “first to file” rules, and updates to the FDA’s 510(k) and PMA application and approval process.  

Next, Charles Breen (former District Director, FDA) discussed the FDA’s new inspection strategy of giving companies more notice, and candidly spoke about  the FDA’s process to give attendees a bit of insider information.  Bruce Haggar (President, MedQ Systems) explained the FDA Medical Device Single Audit program opening in January 2014, allowing device companies to receive clearance in multiple countries with one inclusive submission.  

The engaging speakers took many questions from the audience and stayed after to field more questions and comments from those in attendance.

WBBA would like to thank our event sponsors for this event:  UW Bothell for hosting us in their event space, as well as Exponent, MedIntelliBase and MPI Research.

Funding for Startups from the NIH

October 31, 2013 Agora Conference Center

For Halloween this year, WBBA presented its members with a real treat! SBIR & STTR experts from the National Institutes of Health visited Seattle to explain the new rules governing SBIR/STTR funding, timelines, and granting mechanisms, as well as the secrets to creating successful applications. We had 30 one-on-one meetings between member companies and experts from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  

Presentation Slide Decks: Dr. Lawrence Prograis (NIAID) and Dr. Greg Evans (NCI)

Governor’s Life Science Summit & Annual Meeting

October 25, 2013 | Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue

Thank you to all who attended this annual event – 9 years in the running!  Dow Constantine and Thong Le kicked off the meeting, then Chris Rivera provided an industry update using Prezi – jazzing things up as images whizzed across the screen.  We then heard from industry leaders Lisa Brown, PhD (WSU- Spokane), David Poston (Allen Institute for Brain Science), and John DesRosier, PhD (Life Science Discovery Fund).  We introduced the concept of “middle earth” using this ten-year visioning video.  More to come on that very soon!  We heard from Jay Inslee – with some rejuvenating words and news about our industry.  Last (but not least) we were able to recognize those in our industry who have made a difference.  The Innovation Award was given to NanoString Technologies and accepted by Brad Gray (CEO); The WBBA Volunteer of the Year was giving to Andrew Serafini, PhD (Fenwick & West). Check out our photos from the event on Facebook

VIP Plenary with LongTech Medical Technologies

September 27-30, 2013 | Agora Conference Center

LongTech Medical Technology is an international business accelerator located in the Jiangsu Province (near Shanghai), China.  LongTech came to Seattle September 27-30 for a Plenary Session and one-on-one meetings with local companies, entrepreneurs and research groups.  While they were in town, they met with medical device entrepreneurs and researcher groups with early stage and/or validated technologies, and entrepreneurs with proven technologies being marketed in US and European markets. For more information about WBBA VIP Forums, visit the website

VIP Forums are generously supported by Cooley LLP, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Knobbe Martens.  If your organization is interested in sponsoring a VIP Forum, information can be found in the WBBA’s Sponsorship Prospectus.

The Future is Now:  P4 Medicine’s Healthcare Impact Today

September 18, 2013 | Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) and Northeastern University, Seattle

This was our fifth event featuring Dr. Leroy Hood, this time taking place at Northeastern University Seattle, which shares space with ISB.  This year, we wanted to cover more about how P4 is impacting current developments in medicine.  Dr. Hood kicked off the discussion with an overview of present-day P4 Medicine and what emerging applications will continue to advance the field over the next two years.  Next, Dr. Al Luder (Integrated Diagnostics) spoke about diagnostic applications in cancer: pre-sympomatic diagnosis and the role that personalized medicine plays.  Digging deeper and looking at genomic testing, we heard from Dr. Ken Thummel from the University of Washington on the role of pharmacogenomics: using genomics for identifying personalized choice for safe and effective drugs and optimal drug dosage for the individual.  Keeping with the academic research on this topic, Dr. Tony Blau (University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine) illustrated how emerging genomic and computational approaches are transforming cancer research; describing a patient-centered approach for the design and testing of drugs based on an “N of 1” that arises from a molecular understanding. To wrap it all up, Dr. Hood then invited the speakers, along with the PI for the Warferin Study, Dr. An Pang Chieng, MD (Iverson Genetic Diagnostics, Inc.), for a lively panel discussion and question and answers session with our entusiastic audience.

Thank you to our sponsors:  Fenwick & West, LLP; MPI Research; Northeastern University, Seattle; We Work for Health; and ZymoGenetics.

WBBA Golf Invitational

September 9, 2013 | Fairwood Gold and Country Club

This year's golf outing had something for everyone – chilly morning to warm afternoon; putting and driving contests; sunglass props and a Duck Dynasty-esque beard wig for photos.  Want to get in on the fun?  View our pictures on Facebook here. Please also join us in congratulating our prize winners: Winning FoursomeMacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions (Mike Byron, Peter Renner, Sam Robertson and Scott Sinclair); Woman’s Longest Drive:  Melanie Stewart; Men’s Longest Drive: Sam Robertson; Men’s Closest to Pin: Jesse Rawley.  The event was a resounding success, supporting the WBBA’s BIOPAC.  If you didn’t play golf but would like the opportunity to donate to the BIOPAC, please do so here.  

WBBA Summer Social

August 22, 2013 | WBBA Outdoor Deck

For the first time, the WBBA hosted our Annual Summer Social on the deck at our 1551 Office Building.  Over 250 people attended this yearly event filled with great food and merriment.  From bocce ball to golf, grilled salmon to portabellas, patio umbrellas to a big white tent, this event had it all!  Thanks to all of our amazing sponsors who made the day so much fun with their raffles, giveaways, and big smiles!  Sponsors included: Airgas, Alexandria, ERNWest, Equinox Business Law Group, Graphica, Inc., ISPE, Lilly, MedIntelliBase, MPI Research, ORCA, Praxair, Seed IP Law Group, PLLC, Wells Fargo Insurance Services and We Work for Health

Life Science Innovation Northwest

July 10-11, 2013 | Washington State Convention Center

The conference was so special, it has its own website.  Read all about the 13th Annual Conference here (including Woman to Watch Awardees, videos, photos, session recaps and more)!

Life Sciences Leadership Summit, Washington State University, Spokane

May 23, 2013 | Spokane

This year's Leadership Summit in Spokane was one for the record books.  We had a record number of attendees (nearly 120) and a record number of sponsors (8).  We were thrilled to again partner with WSU Spokane to bring together a program with speakers from the Greater Spokane area – including welcome from Mayor David Condon; a keynote address from  K. Michael Gibson, PhD from Washington State University; and updates from some of Spokane’s prolific and up-and-coming organizations.  The event didn’t stop there!  We had updates from LSDF, Washington State Department of Commerce, Western Washington organizations, and the SBA.  It was a half-day filled with great presentations and great discussion - capped off with lively town hall forum moderated by Chris Rivera.  The event ended with a networking reception – in true WBBA fashion.  Thanks again to our sponsors for helping us bring this very important meeting to our members and future members alike.  Sponsors included: INHS, Jubilant HollisterStier, Lee & Hayes, MPI Research, PAML, Washington State University, We Work for Health and ZymoGenetics

VIP Plenary with J&J Development Corp.

May 16-17, 2013 | Agora Conference Center

On May 16-17 we welcomed business development leadership from Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) to Seattle for our most recent VIP Forum.  Johnson & Johnson is a well-known global giant in the health sector.  Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, the venture capital subsidiary of J&J, invests in life science and technology businesses that focus on traditional healthcare sectors such as pharmaceuticals, companion diagnostics, and medical devices.  The JJDC executives also met with earlier stage research groups and companies on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which focuses on identifying early-stage innovation at academic institutions, start-up biotech companies and venture capital firms, and provide integrated capabilities to scout, evaluate, fund, guide, and onboard new science.

At the Plenary Session, Dr. Asish Xavier, Vice President of Venture Investments and Dr. Jeff Calcagno, Principal of Venture Investments spoke about both JJDC and Innovation, explaining the need for highly innovative and portfolio-relevant technologies, and explained the new Innovation Centers that Johnson & Johnson has established in California, Boston, London and China. J&J’s wide range of interests allowed for our largest VIP Forum yet; 35 member companies across a very diverse range of fields met with three J&J representatives over two days of meetings at Cooley LLP. 

We are also happy to announce our next VIP Forum with Eli Lilly and Company on September 3-4.  Lilly, a top-10 pharmaceutical company, is a global leader in oncology, diabetes, neuroscience, cardiovascular health and more. 

VIP Forums are generously supported by Cooley LLP, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Knobbe Martens.  If your organization is interested in sponsoring a VIP Forum, information can be found in the WBBA’s Sponsorship Prospectus.

Breakfast @ BIO with Washington State Department of Commerce

April 23, 2013 | BIO International Convention, Chicago

It was standing room only at the BIO breakfast hosted by the Washington State Department of Commerce at the Intercontinental Hotel on Chicago’s infamous Magnificent Mile.  Hovan Asdourian from Commerce gave a brief welcome to the crowd while Chris Rivera provided an overview of the Life Sciences landscape in Washington.  Guests networked before and after this event and enjoyed getting together at BIO.  Just goes to show, you never know where you can connect with the WBBA!

WBBA’s Pub Night, Bellevue Brewery

April 18, 2013 | Bellevue Brewing Company

It was a packed house at the tucked away beer mecca of Bellevue Brewery for our spring pub night!  Beer enthusiasts and wine lovers alike found this industrial and modern brewery a great place to meet and greet with Life Sciences executives, job seekers, members, and future members.  Business cards were dropped and prizes were given away at this fantastic quarterly event!  Stay tuned for our next twist on Pub Night – our showing of the film Extraordinary Measures featuring the story of LSINW keynote speaker, John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics.  Thanks to ZymoGenetics for sponsoring; more opportunities for sponsorship are available; please contact Dennis Kroft.

WBBA Training Symposium

April 17, 2013 | Agora Conference Center

The WBBA Hosted the first ever Training Symposium in April featuring six WBBA member organizations including:  The Leadership Edge, ETI Group, Ingenium, University of Washington Professional & Continuing Education, Northeastern University, Seattle, and Washington State University (Professional Science Master’s (PSM).  The goal of the event was to educate the WBBA HR professionals about the opportunities our members can offer.  The event delivered, and content from the event was captured by video!  Stay tuned for updates on what our training partners spoke about and can off YOUR organization. 

Mobile Health: In the Market, In the Lab and In Between

April 10, 2013 | Orin Smith Auditorium, SLU

Event Summary by Stephanie Miller

Leaders in global health gathered at South Lake Union to discuss current issues facing the process of developing technologies to improve the wellbeing of people and communities around the world. Paul Yager (Chair of the Bioengineering Department at UW) introduced the program, discussing the current state of health IT and highlighting the need for an integration of all health information to reconnect diagnostics and therapy.

Jigish Avalani (Appature) discussed big data and the struggle to find relevance within available medical records and information spread across multiple, fragmented platforms. Although access to information has shifted some power to the customer, this is not equivalent to access to healthcare. Bill Reid (Numera) supported this philosophy during his discussion regarding Numera’s attempt to connect treatment with individual data collection technology, as did Abraham Flaxman (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) in his description of his estimates of disease burden across the globe. Despite privacy issues and absent industry standards, these technologies have proven to be useful tools for discovery and innovation.

Yager and Gaetano Borreillo (Computer Science Department at UW) continued the dialogue about bridging the gap between diagnostics and treatment through the decentralization of medical diagnostics. In areas with a limited number of trained medical professionals, there is a need for simple diagnostics that are fast, cheap and portable. Through the combination of microfluidic technology and the computational power of smartphones, Yager and Borreillo are developing efficient diagnostic devices and data collection tools.

These innovators and their teams are pioneering new ways to connect data collection, data analysis and the clinical application of data to improve healthcare effectiveness and access to information (and subsequently treatments) around the world.

Our Mobile Health presenter slides are available at the links below. Thank you to our wonderful panelists for providing such a wealth of diverse and exciting information:

Washington as an Antibody Hub

April 10, 2013 | Washington State Convention Center

Event Summary by Renuka Ramanathan

The event opened with a keynote from Clay Siegall, chairman and CEO of Seattle Genetics. Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris drug received FDA approval in August 2011 for two cancer indications - relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. After a mere 18 months on the market, Adcetris has a high market penetration of 60-70%, making it a highly successful ADC therapy. Adcetris has been received in a positive reimbursement environment; no patient was denied medical coverage. One of the major factors in Adcetris’ success is the focus Seattle Genetics placed on developing a protease cleavable linker to conjugate the drug to the antibody. Specifically, the linker is only cleaved in the presence of an intracellular protease – Cathepsin D, ensuring that toxic drugs were only released inside of target cancer cells. Siegall ended the talk with an Adcetris timeline that highlighted the phases of the drug’s development as a successful ADC; Seattle Genetics began operations in 1998, licensed the anti-CD30 antibody from the University of Miami in 1999 and subsequently licensed the Auristatin drug from University of Arizona in 2000. The organization’s future goals include examining additional CD30 malignancies.

Following the first keynote, Jane Gross, VP of R&D at Emergent BioSolutions, spoke on Adaptir, an antibody-like protein technology currently in development. The company’s protein-based therapeutics include monospecifics and bispecifics, which are being developed for their use in redirected T-cell elimination of tumor cells. Emergent BioSolutions is also developing antibody-cytokine fusion proteins to neutralize cytokines, which can cause inflammation and propagate the spread of cancer. Ken Grabstein, CSO at Allozyne, spoke after Gross, highlighting his company’s focus on orthogonal chemistries to control the stereochemistry and stochiometry of drugs conjugated to bispecific antibodies. The move towards these homogenous mixtures of ADCs may have the potential to optimize therapeutic efficacy. Finally, Teri Foy of VLST described its efforts in target discovery to identify virulence factors and cell targets. These discoveries are then used to develop mAbs that can mimic viral proteins.

The second keynote was given by Kristine Swiderek, CSO at Theraclone Sciences. Theraclone Sciences is using the I-Star instrument to identify antibodies against IgG expressing memory B cells. These have the potential to be used in B cell-based therapeutics. Pat Gray, currently a scientific fellow at Omeros, then spoke at the beginning of the second round of panelists. Gray spoke about Omeros’ efforts in developing ex vivo, chicken-based cell lines for directed Ab evolution against pre-B cell lymphomas. Sarah Warren, Director of Research at Oncofactor Corporation, next described the discovery of oncofactors, which are expressed by tumors during immune evasion. Jonathan Drachman, CTO of Seattle Genetics, described the orgnaization’s development of antibodies containing S239C substitution, which introduces a free cysteine available for stereospecific conjugation of drugs. Seattle Genetics has found that the S239C substitution reduces aggregation with novel antibodies. The company is also working on developing self-stable linkers for conjugating drugs to antibodies.

Randall Shatzman, CSO at Alder Biopharmaceuticals, gave the final keynote of the day. The company is pioneering the use of P. pastoris to make antibodies. Some of the major gaps in current technologies include the failure of E.coli and yeast to deliver biologically relevant antibodies. While CHO cells deliver, they are expensive and have long development timelines. Unlike alternative systems, P. pastoris is relatively cheap, eukaryotic, has a rapid double time and are not reliant on human viruses. Leni Ramos next continued the discussion on Theraclone’s development of antibodies for infectious pathogens, followed by Rob Hershberg of VentiRx, who discussed enhancement of antibody therapy with TLR agonists. Similar to adjuvant enhancement of vaccines, VentiRx is developing TLR8 agonists that target myeloid dendritic cells, monocytes, and natural killer cells to enhance tumor killing. Using their TLR8 agonists, VentiRx has observed enhancement of ADCC activity of cetuximab, rituximab, and trastuzumab. The day concluded with Ken Mohler, CSO at ZetaRx Biosciences, Inc. Mohler described the organization’s efforts to develop adoptive T cell therapies using the chimeric antigen receptor. Their therapeutics are defined by apheresis of donor blood from oncology patients.

Non-Dilutive Funding: Finding It, Getting It, and Using It Strategically to Move Your Company Forward

Recap by Amanda Chung

For early stage life sciences companies, securing non-dilutive funding can provide working capital for crucial experimentation while allowing company founders to maintain control of the company, and provide external validation of an emerging technology and team.  The WBBA event Non-Dilutive Funding: Finding It, Getting It, and Using It Strategically to Move Your Company Forward focused on sources, challenges, strategies and support around the process of securing non-dilutive funding.  Presenter slides are all linked here. 

Stephanie Fertig from the National Institutes of Neurological Disease and Stroke at the NIH keynoted the event in two sessions: first to discuss new rules and funding guidelines that are being instituted in the SBIR/STTR reauthorization, and second to review some of the NIH’s commercialization support funds and services that companies can take advantage of.  Additionally, three panels of experts covered topics ranging from non-dilutive funding sources to programs that support life science product commercialization to stories from CEOs of successful companies. 

A panel composed of “Funders” discussed what they look for in applications:

  • Tell a story – detail a clear path in your application
  • Know what your product is/will be
  • Make sure to involve an expert in the field that your product is tied to
  • Consider the feasibility and relevance of the study
  • Have a measurable, hard-line goal to mark the end of your proposed project
  • Make sure to describe the business case for commercializing your product
  • Include a balance of commercialization and scientific details
  • Sometimes things do not go according to plan, so be sure to maintain an open line of communication with your funders from the beginning.  Have measurable milestones along the way to mark your progress and don’t be afraid to give updates with good and bad news.

Sources of non-dilutive funding represented on the panel included:

The second panel about commercialization programs described free and low-cost resources for life sciences companies statewide:

The last panel of CEOs from Impel NeuroPharma, Insilicos and Immusoft shared their funding success stories and gave suggestions based on their experiences:

  • Consider the funder to be your customer – think about why they would care about your product and why they will benefit from funding its development
  • Grants can line up a company for private funding by providing initial validation that you have a credible idea and a team that can execute research
  • Personal credibility and networking are extremely important
  • Expect that funding from a grant may not always arrive on time, so include a timing buffer in your plans
  • Other non-obvious sources of non-dilutive funding include: your own money, cost-cutting and revenue from customers who pay for your product or a companion service

All Presenter Slidedecks can be found at the links below:

Allison Formal- Leukemia Lymphoma

Bart Philips- Innovate Washington

Christiana DelloRusso- WBBA

Gary Spanner- PNNL

Jeanette Ennis- UW C4C

John DesRosier- LSDF

Stephanie Fertig- NIH

Susan Ashe- Health Sciences Services Authority (HSSA)

Be sure to attend part two of this series, Blood from a Stone: Who is Left in Life Science Venture Investing Today? This follow up panel will be held at Life Science Innovation Northwest on July 10 - 11 at the Washington State Convention Center.

Bio on the Vine

Our Bio on the Vine event is always a crowd pleaser and this year stayed true to tradition. With 2 very intriguing keynote speakers, the 90+ attendees were treated to a fun night with great wine and food – not to mention fabulous prizes!  The event kicked off with about 30 minutes of networking with some great wine selections. Steve Roberts (Wells Fargo Insurance Services VP by day and Wine Trails NW Author by night) emceed the event and introduced our first speaker: Wine World Sommelier Lenny Redé.  Lenny provided an interesting presentation about food and wine pairing. Lenny got into detail about what happens when you taste wine with the right food – it’s quite magical – not to mention very scientific.  After some more networking, our emcee introduced self-proclaimed “wine geek goddess” Rachael Horn from AniChe Cellars. Rachael talked about how to taste wine – 20 ML in your glass, give it a swirl, take 3 deeps sniffs, engage the limbic system, form a mouth bubble and prepare to taste wine in a new way!  We ended the event with raffle prizes:  wine donated by AniChe Winery, as well as a Wine Trials of Washington book, and a wine picnic basket donated by Steve Roberts!  Thanks to this year's Bio on the Vine sponsors: Premier sponsor Wells Fargo and Innovation sponsors PwC and ZymoGenetics.

Chemical Manufacturing Controls

Nearly 60 people packed the Agora room at WBBA Headquarters for this event sponsored by Premier sponsors MPI Research and Pahtheon, as well as Innovator sponsors

2013 Event Archives

August 22 : WBBA Summer Social, WBBA Outdoor Deck
July 10-11 : Life Science Innovation Northwest, Washington State Convention Center
May 23 : Life Sciences Leadership Summit, Washington State University, Spokane
May 16-17 : VIP Plenary with J&J Development Corp.
Apr 23 : Breakfast @ BIO with Washington State Department of Commerce
Apr 18 : WBBA’s Pub Night, Bellevue Brewery
Apr 17 : WBBA Training Symposium
Apr 10 : Mobile Health: In the Market, In the Lab and In Between
Mar 06 : Non-Dilutive Funding: Finding It, Getting It, and Using It Strategically to Move Your Company Forward
Feb 21: Bio on the Vine
Jan 16: Chemical Manufacturing Controls
Jan 15: Lab Supply Liquidation Event
Jan 10: VIP Forum with BMS 

2012 Archives

2011 Archives

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© 2012 Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association

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