BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Innovation needs investment, particularly in the early stages of development for many of Indiana’s life sciences companies. A conference being presented Feb. 21 in Indianapolis by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business will offer practical guidance on funding strategies and finding support from government, private equity firms and venture funds.
Kelley’s Center for the Business of Life Sciences will present the conference, “Capital Makes the (Life Sciences) World Go ‘Round,” from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at OneAmerica Tower, 202 N. Illinois St. in Indianapolis.
Participants will include managing directors and a CEO of several venture capital firms and executives in research and development at companies seeking cures for hepatitis and cancer and management of dental practices in humans and medical treatments for animals.
Keynote speakers will include David Roberts, chief innovation officer at the Indiana Economic Development Corp., and Nnamdi Alozie, director of corporate strategy/innovation at IU Health, pictured left.
Funding is crucial for early-stage and mid-stage companies prior to being able to issue stock and go public or merge with a larger firm. Funds are often used to pay for clinical trials and other research and development, including testing prototypes.
According to a recent report from BioCrossroads, 36 Indiana life science companies attracted a total of $74 million in venture funding last year. This was a double-digit drop from the year before, when 34 companies raised a record $115 million. On average, budding firms reached deals averaging $2.1 million year, which also was a sharp drop from 2018.
George Telthorst, director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences, said this decline in activity highlights a need for emergent companies in the state to better understand their investors and how to showcase their innovation.
“Given the competitive realities today, it’s more important than ever that early-stage life science companies in Indiana know how to attract venture capital and other support from those who see economic potential in their innovation,” Telthorst said.
“There are many sources of funding who aren’t content to be on the sidelines, but they want to be confident when making investment decisions,” he added. “We hope this conference will help young firms see what funders want and be more successful in attracting support.”
Before becoming chief innovation officer at the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Roberts previously served as president of the Battery Innovation Center at the WestGate @ Crane Technology Park. He oversees all innovation and entrepreneurship efforts at the IEDC.
aAlozie leads innovation for IU Health. He previously worked in management consulting, advising payers and providers on strategic issues, including population health strategy, payer-provider collaboration, and innovation.
The conference also will feature a panel discussion about “capital hunters and gatherers,” moderated by Minhthy Nguyen, vice president for innovation and scientific affairs at Mead Johnson Nutrition. Panel members will be Ernst Heinen, vice president for R&D integration at Elanco and former chief development officer at Aratana Therapeutics; Megan Lohman, co-founder and CEO of Plan Forward; Micah Mackison, senior vice president for corporate development and strategy at Assembly Biosciences, Inc.; and Katie Pawelczak, vice president of research at NERx Biosciences.
A second panel will focus on “what funders want.” It will be moderated by Scott Holmstrom, vice president for global product development at Elanco, and feature Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures; Rob Readnour, managing director of Mountain Group Partners; Oscar Moralez, managing partner of Boomerang Ventures; and Ginger Rothrock, senior director of HG Ventures.
The registration fee is $175 and includes lunch. Students at accredited Indiana institutions of higher education may qualify for a discounted rate. Registration and additional information are available on the conference webpage or by contacting Kelli Conder at the Kelley School at 812-856-0915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last event in the 2019-20 Indiana Life Sciences Collaboration Conference Series will be the conference, “Medicare for All and The Alternatives,” on May 1 at Cook Medical headquarters in Bloomington.