Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Event Spotlight: VC in the OC

Record-breaking attendance of more than 600 VCs and entrepreneurs convened for OCTANe’s Annual VC in the OC event, May 24, in Irvine, Calif. OCTANe CEO Matthew Jenusaitis kicked off with highlights from the OC Innovation Report, demonstrating that by quantitative and qualitative measures on the state of innovation, overall environment and investment, Orange County is an epicenter for medical technology and high tech in the U.S.

Next up, the “Alliance Strategies for Growth in the Life Sciences Industry” panel (sponsored by CHI member Deloitte) featured perspectives from Steve Pal (Allergan), Sharon Stevenson (Okapi Venture Capital), John Kehl (Edwards Lifesciences), Glenn Snyder and Jacques Mulder (Deloitte).

“Don’t overlook alliance opportunities with middle-size companies and consider the advantages of these compared to larger companies to open up the range of potential partners,” Stevenson advises.

“As a company, alliances are critical to Allergan to keep our growth rate of 12-15 percent per year," said Pal. "We are looking at technologies in all stages of development, whether early-stage or late-stage commercialization."

Kehl weighed in on Edwards Lifesciences investment in R&D: “Edwards will be flexible in structuring the deal, but the technology must be centrally relevant to our business. In the current environment, it is taking more and more to get product to market, so the R&D line is sacred and will grow through alliances.” Check out Deloitte’s study: "Critical Factors for Alliance Formation."

Mark Stevens, Partner at Sequoia Capital gave the lunch keynote. He described he and his wife Mary’s vision in creating the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation with a $200 million donation to develop a university-wide resource for USC students and faculty to transition beyond concepts into real-world implementation and address untapped opportunities. As far as new sources of start-up capital, Stevens recommends entrepreneurs access microfunds. Microfunds are typically run by high-wealth individuals with industry-specific experience who are very hands-on, investing smaller amounts and combining that with their bandwidth and connections to shepherd the company through early-stage development.

Don Milder, partner with Versant Ventures, provided his perspective on healthcare investing on the OC VC panel. He sees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration improving but still in need of reform.

"Never underestimate the power of one transforming a bureaucracy," he said. "That one individual who is making strides to improve FDA for all of us in med tech is Josh Makower."

CHI-Advancing California biomedical research and innovation

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