Industry All About Sustainability

The World Congress kicked off on Sunday in Chicago and sustainability was on everyone’s mind.

John Heissenbuttel of Heissenbuttel Natural Resource Consulting announced an initiative to make sure that advanced biofuels are produced in a sustainable manner. The groups involved will set voluntary standards to ensure cellulosic biomass – dedicated fuel crops, crop residues, purpose-grown wood, and forestry residues – for biofuels are grown and harvested in a sustainable manner. In setting the standards, the group is considering land use, water use, climate change, and socioeconomic impacts.

Jacques Beaudry-Losique of the U.S. Department of Energy Biomass and Biofuels Program, said that it’s important for the U.S. and other countries to stabilize energy prices as well as food and agriculture prices. Jay Keasling of the Joint Bioenergy Institute in California, one of the DOE Bioenergy Research Centers, discussed some of the expectations of industrial biotech to produce energy and advanced biofuels.


How Much Is Your Company Worth?

Putting a value on how much an early-stage biotech company is worth is no easy task. Raising money for an early-stage biotech is even harder. But the good news is that last year was a record year for financing in the industry, with a 66 percent increase in VC funding over 2006, according a recently released Ernst and Young report.

That set the stage for today’s luncheon educational session, “Funding and Valuation Models for Start-Up Biotech Companies. There were panelists on both sides of the fence – Peter Barrett from Atlas Ventures, Scott Rocklaye from 5AM Ventures, Ron Lennox from CHL Medical Partners and Alison de Bord from Alta Partners.

They talked about what they look for in early-stage companies and how they try to assess a company’s value. Noted Alison, “Things always take longer than expected and you build a cushion into your deals.” On the other side were two entrepreneurs, CEOs Paul Hastings from OncoMed Pharmaceuticals and Glenn Batchelder from BIND Biosciences, who talked about their personal experiences in raising money.

Glenn summed up the workshop by stating that as a CEO your goal is to “try to build a great company and maximize your degree of freedom.”

Opportunities Abound

Attendees awoke to the news this morning about GlaxoSmithKline’s announcement that it will pay millions — $720 million to be exact — for Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. This is the stuff biotech CEOs dream about. And it was the buzz at many breakfast tables at this morning’s workshop, “Antibiotics: Bad Bugs – Few Drugs.”

The BNVC meeting, of course, is all about making the right connections in the industry between investors and early-stage companies which, in turn, will hopefully lead to the next “blockbuster” or merger. According to this morning’s panelists, antibiotics represent a huge opportunity in the industry.

There is a growing unmet medical need for new drugs due to the rapidly increasing resistance to antibiotics, noted moderator Praveen Tipirneni, MD, vice president of business development for Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.From an investor’s standpoint, this means enormous market opportunity, which is why BIO holds conferences such as this.

Standing Room Only

More than 60 company presentations are scheduled to take place between today and tomorrow. Whether you sat in on Optherion, Colby Pharmaceutical, or another presentation, chances are the session was jammed pack. Each presenter was allotted 15 minutes to make the case for why his or her company is the company to invest in. – and there were some compelling cases. Resolvyx, also one of today’s presenting companies, had the added benefit of being profiled by Todd Wallack in today’s Boston Globe, “Bedford biotech gains steam and attention.” Read the full article at

BIO National Venture Conference Off to a Strong Start

While the economy may not be as robust as it has in recent years, there certainly was no sign of that at today’s Opening Luncheon. Jim Greenwood, our President & CEO welcomed attendees to the inaugural BIO National Venture Conference and cited these impressive stats:

  • 140 top-level (VP and higher) venture capitalists – including 4 international investors – representing 90 firms from 16 states
  •  61 companies from 13 states and 2 countries
  • 41 company presentations
  • 125 one-on-one meetings to date

The state with the most representation, not surprisingly, is Massachusetts. After all, we are in Boston. But coming in at a close number two: California (where we’ll be in a couple of months!)

All in all, not bad for a first time event! And when you factor in that spring is typically a busy time of the year in the industry with multiple events competing for people’s time and attention, it’s clear that many see the enormous value in this event.

Welcome to Boston!

The marathon may be over, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more activity going on here in Boston.    We’re here in Cambridge, one of biotechnology’s “hot-spots” for the inaugural BIO National Venture Conference meeting up with some of the newest early stage and seed stage companies seeking venture funding.  Stay tuned for more as the program gets underway…

The Newsroom: Staying “in the know”

We are excited to announce that we have launched our spiffy new BIO 2008 convention newsroom. Using a “social media” approach, we combined newsfeeds from our “BIO on the Road” blog, as well as convention press releases, a convention blogroll, and links to all of our community outlets:

Be sure to get connected and join these communities, and check out our newsroom today!