Financing for the life sciences and healthcare industry is poised to remain robust in the years ahead. Where will the money flow? In this panel discussion, we bring together leading experts from venture capital, private equity and healthcare consulting. Join us for a lively discussion on which areas of innovation are attracting the most funding and what’s coming next.
Biotech Connection Singapore (BCS) hosted a panel discussion featuring “Emerging Trends in Biotech, Medtech and Healthcare Investments” on May 25th, 6:30 – 8:30pm at Breakthrough Theatre, Matrix, Biopolis. Over 250 professionals from the local biotech ecosystem attended the event and engaged in lively discussions with the panelists.
We invited a panel of distinguished speakers from a spectrum of investment stages to share with us their insights and to highlight some of the upcoming investment trends in the biotech, medtech and healthcare sectors. Among them, Dr. Kenneth Noonan from Lightstone Ventures (also the moderator) and and Dr. Lincoln Chee from Vertex Healthcare Ventures both mainly focus on early-stage/mid-stage development companies. While Ms. Anne Kim (IMC group), who comes from a hybrid private equity/family foundation institution, holds more interest in companies that are already in late-stage/growth stage. Last but not least, Mr. Fabio La Mola from IMS Health shed some light on this topic from the Multinational Corporation (MNC) perspective.
To start with, the panelists commented on the funding landscape and how it has influenced investment approaches. Financing for healthcare and life sciences have remained strong for the past 3-5 years. Dr Chee mentioned that in addition to traditional venture capital firms which have built substantial “dry powder”, new sources of funding from corporate venture and cross-over investors have added to this huge capital pool. Mr Fabio La Mola stated that big pharma corporate companies have indeed turned to acquisitions of late-stage companies to expand their product portfolio as it is more capital efficient than R&D. Besides assets in drugs, simple medical device products with short regulatory approval time seem to be a sweetspot for these large biopharma companies looking to rapidly boost revenue and growth. Dr. Chee and Dr. Noonan both added that with the recent downturn in the biotech & medtech public markets, valuations of companies are back to realistic levels and recent deal sizes have stagnated. The lackluster public markets in turn, has prompted VCs who invest in private companies, to take a more cautious stance. This has seen a flight of capital towards a select few companies with extremely novel technologies or strategies.
The panel then went on to discuss which sectors and therapeutic areas have garnered the most investment interest. Both Dr Noonan and Dr Chee emphasized that innovative biology that address a high unmet need are the main considerations in making their investment decisions. Dr Chee and Dr Noonan see a shift in investment towards platform technologies as it is capable of generating different targets in various areas. Over the past 2-5 years, platform technology has become one of the fastest growing subsectors in the biotech space. With regards to indications, oncology, specifically, immuno-oncology, has received the most investment activity. Infectious disease and diabetes, areas with huge unmet medical needs yet lack innovative strategies, also receive significant support. Similarly, MNCs also place huge amounts of interest in oncology. They are also largely interested in respiratory, neurological and orphan diseases which have small but untapped markets. In addition, these corporate companies have also invested resources in developing innovative healthcare delivery systems, particularly in Asia, for the cheap distribution of drugs. From a growth capital side, Ms Kim highlighted that her firm is interested in investing in services, patient care, ancillary health and healthcare delivery systems. When asked which areas present the most opportunity, Dr Chee indicated he sees promise in products that different kinds of technologies converge on, such as wearables in healthcare, Internet of things (IoT) in healthcare and data in healthcare etc. However, he mentioned that regulatory framework might become a potential hurdle along the way.
Lastly, the panel discussed briefly on the progress made in Singapore’s life science ecosystem and potential areas for development. They mentioned that Singapore has gone through significant changes over the past 5 years. The Singapore Government has played a critical role in transforming the landscape, putting in place the infrastructure for research and entrepreneurial activities and support for scientific manpower development. However, there are still hurdles and challenges that remain to be addressed. Both Ms Kim and Dr Chee emphasized the importance of attracting and developing human capital experienced in business and product development who can work synergistically with scientists towards the successful translation and commercialization of science.
The panel discussion was followed by a networking session whereby the attendees enjoyed food and wine generously sponsored by SMI Pte Ltd and Rachelle the Rabbit.
6.30 – 7.00pm: Registration
7.00 – 7.05pm: Introduction to BCS and Partners
7.05 – 8.05pm: Speaker Introduction & Panel discussion
8.05 – 9.00pm: Networking reception with light refreshments
Dr. Kenneth D. Noonan, Ph.D.
Ken is currently CEO of Lightstone Singapore Pte. Ltd., an early stage venture fund focused on life science technologies originating in Singapore. He has over 35 years of experience in global life science markets, including pharmaceuticals, devices, diagnostics and research products. Since 2000 Ken was a Venture Partner at Advanced Technology Ventures, a predecessor fund to Lightstone.
Previously, Ken was a senior partner and head of the European Life Sciences practice at L.E.K. Consulting LLP. In his life science consulting career, he has served as Head of European Life Sciences Practice at The Wilkerson Group, as well as Head of European Biopharmaceuticals Practice at Booz Allen & Hamilton.
Ken has been a member of the Board of Directors of public and private life science companies in both the U.S. and Europe, including Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc., Kailos Genetics and Orchid Biosciences.
Ken holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Princeton University and a Biology degree from St. Joseph’s University.
Dr. Lincoln Chee
Lincoln has over 25 years of experience in healthcare as a surgeon, executive and investor. Lincoln is currently on the Board of Holaira, Visterra and Sensimed. Notable past investments include Twelve (acquired by Medtronic), Arana Therapeutics (acquired by Cephalon), Biosensors International (IPO) and Phoenix Hospital Group (IPO).
Prior to joining Vertex, Lincoln served as CEO and Board Member of Quality Healthcare, Hong Kong’s first publicly listed healthcare company. He led the growth and eventual buyout by Fortis Group in 2010. In 2009, Lincoln was selected as Outstanding Entrepreneur of HK. He also held committee positions with Hong Kong Government Food and Health Bureau on e-health Records and Primary Care Delivery Models and an advisory member of Hong Kong Trade and Development Council. Since 2013, Lincoln has been an operating partner advisor for Advent International in healthcare.
Lincoln holds a MBBS from the National University of Singapore. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and a Fellow Academy of Medicine Singapore in Otorhinolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery.
Ms. Anne Kim So Min
Anne Kim is an Investment Director of Heritas Helios Investments (an investment management fund of IMC Pan Asia Alliance), focusing on the healthcare sector across Asia. Anne has more than 10 years of experience in investments, capital markets transactions and mergers & acquisitions in the global and Asian healthcare sector.
Anne started her career with J.P. Morgan Healthcare Investment Banking and UBS Healthcare Investment Research in New York and San Francisco. She was also a venture capital investor in biotechnology and medical devices with Investor Growth Capital in New York and Hong Kong. Anne was a founding member of Quadria Capital, a pan-Asian healthcare private equity fund focused on South and Southeast Asia.
Anne is currently a Board Member of the Limited Partner Advisory Committee of Quadria Capital and a Board Member of Tsao Foundation, a non-profit focused on eldercare.
Anne has dual degrees in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Economics (Finance) from the Wharton School. Anne is also an alumna of the Harvard Business School.
Mr. Fabio La Mola
Fabio’s current role is Senior Principal, and he leads the Strategy Portfolio Assessment Center of Excellence (CoE) at IMS Health. In this role, he is driving client engagements in market entry, growth strategy, M&A screening, private equity diligence and operating model optimization.
Fabio has extensive experience in consulting and life sciences, totaling 16 years. Prior to joining IMS Health, he worked as Principal at L.E.K Consulting and Manager at ZS Associates. Fabio successfully led projects serving both multinational companies (MNCs) and local companies alike on private equity and their portfolio companies within pharma, medical devices and other sectors across Asia Pacific, EMEA, US and China.
Fabio’s expert capabilities include, but are not limited to growth strategies in emerging markets, new products launches, competitive positioning, portfolio complexity reduction, supply chain, process and organizational excellence, especially for medical devices, diagnostics and healthcare services.
Fabio holds a MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Bocconi University, Italy.