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Blog Posting from Audrey Erbes about New Paradigms 2013

  • January 16, 2013

  • A blog posting regarding the recent New Paradigms to Fund Life Science Innovation conference. Jan 7-9th, 2013 in the Marines Memorial Club & Hotel, San Francisco. 

    Observations: JP Morgan Healthcare Week from Audrey Erbes

    JP Morgan’s Healthcare Conference is no longer the sole life science event of value in San Francisco as in earlier years. It used to be the main event with all the industry stakeholders present but now it serves high roller investors who meet the annual investment hurdle set by JP Morgan and presenting companies who have a potentially lucrative financial relationship with the bank.

    There were 337 presenting companies of which only 46 were private, leading to growing criticisms that new exciting innovation from startups was in short supply at the meeting.
    Good news for those “wall flowers” no longer invited to the “JP ball” was the improvement in quality of and number of alternative conferences and events.  The Third Annual Conference Forum meeting “New Paradigms to Fund Life Science Innovation” on Tuesday and Wednesday which I attended offered top speakers from the industry and companies and VC panelists in a program of topics of high interest that even attracted many attendees away from JP Morgan for selected parts of the program. A high quality pervaded the program for both days. The Biotech Idol program offering startups opportunity to present to seasoned venture capitalists who provided feedback on Wednesday afternoon had a great format which benefited the presenting and viewing companies as well as other interested observers attending the conference.

    The streets of the Union Square area of San Francisco were packed with industry stakeholders who shared concern over decreases in traditional new company funding but were actively in pursuit to learn about new funding experiments underway and the evolution of the larger pharmaceutical companies’ progress in giving up the blockbuster business model and its low ROI associated R&D process.

    o        There was acceptance that the traditional funding model of VCs followed by IPOs was no longer required to be successful. Corporate venture funds and mixed corporate private collaborations is growing and, especially, the role of universities in extending their work on innovation longer than in past.
    o        There was more maturity evident in understanding the potential value of entering emerging markets although there was still evidence that many are still drinking the KoolAid from the Chinese government that IP is safe in their country now, for example. The discerning are speaking with those with experience to learn about the pitfalls of corruption pervasive there, barriers to success for foreigners who don’t speak fluent Mandarin and the history of promises not kept to those Western companies that preceded our industry in entering emerging markets.