There were several panels that focused on Life Sciences and the mood was different at each of these sessions. On day 1, a panel moderated by Mudit Jain focused on trends, challenges, and opportunities in this industry. Almost all of the speakers, Dana Mead, Investment Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Renee Compton Ryan, Vice President, Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, Tom Fogarty, Founder, FogartyinstituteofInnovationand Katie Szyman, President, Medtronic Diabetes, painted a very bleak picture for this industry, in the years ahead. The overarching tone was that the regulatory model is broken, regulatory hurdles are undefined and there is much higher unpredictability and risks in funding companies in the life sciences arena. Until this model is fixed, the panel members stressed there would be fewer VCs willing to make sizeable investment in this space. Various emerging markets seem to be more attractive and seem to be bigger growth sectors.
The panel on day 2, moderated by Halle Tecco, Co-Founder & CEO of RockHealth was more upbeat and discussed mobile health opportunities. Panelist Alex De Winter, Partner at Life Sciences, Mohr Davidow shared that there was a lot of excitement regarding their portfolio companies mobile apps, driven by increased interest in wellness and staggering statistics around diabetes and obesity. For instance, Aza Raskin’s company Massive Health is generating tremendous interest around its downloadable app that helps people eat healthier. Technology is also often geography agnostic. Mobile apps can originate anywhere and easily can be adapted for other geographies, said Winter. In the opinion of Michael Nichols, Chief Privacy Officer at HealthTap, the landscape is also changing around the core theme of greater access to information and efficiency in healthcare. Clive Smith founder of digital stethoscope, shared about the challenges posed by physicians in adopting new technologies on account of deeply entrenched old habits. Jack Young, Lead Investment Manager at Qualcomm Life Fund, Qualcomm Ventures talked about the opportunities that exist in gamification with incentives to get people to adopt healthier lifestyle, which the insurance companies would find very attractive from reimbursement perspective.