Posted by: Audrey Erbes | January 3, 2012

Take a Deep Breath and Let Us Resolve to Solve Problems in the New Year!

Happy New Year!

Although news summaries from 2011 weren’t inspiring in general, we also had more bad news from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) reporting on medical sector venture capital investment trends in their report entitled Vital Signs: The Crisis in Investment in U.S. Medical Innovation and the Imperative of FDA Reform. There are no surprises in their 2011 survey results “that U.S. venture capitalists have been and will continue to:

  • Decrease their investment in biotechnology and medical device start-ups
  • Reduce their concentration in critical therapeutic areas, and
  • Shift focus away from the United States towards Europe and Asia”

We shouldn’t be surprised as the investment action moves more heavily to foundations, government and corporate venture funding. This isn’t the first time that VC investments have made a major shift in their focus toward other sectors. This time it’s social media and related high tech companies in the limelight. In the late 1990s there was a movement away from biotech and medical innovation in big way as dot com plays became the darlings of investors. The dotcom crash of 2001 resulted in a return to the life sciences as a less risky focus. Funds have become too large and related factors have crowded out interest in smaller life science start ups. Although regulation is getting the highest level of blame for this withdrawal, there are a lot of other factors at work.

Looking into the lineup of conferences and meetings coming up in the new year, I see many addressing the issues confronting our industry and providing suggested solutions for making up the gaps. It shouldn’t be overlooked that investments are moving toward Europe and Asia but also toward the East Coast as European companies look to the Boston area for investments—it’s a lot closer to home and not as difficult a time shift as the West Coast. The Bay Area Cluster has real concerns about losing its preeminence but on positive side also has linkages to Asia that Boston doesn’t.

Companies continue to search for innovative products to commercialize and the need for such products isn’t going away, so I’m optimistic that Americans will figure outa soluntion to the financing dilemma. Also investment just isn’t growing at rate it did in the past but still remains at substantial levels.

Also the larger environment of uncertainty plays a major role in this and a lot of this angst may be resolved after the elections in 2012. The political arena is loaded with fear mongering and this often leads to paralysis and inaction rather than atmosphere appropriate for finding solutions. We figuratively all need to take a deep breath of fresh air and focus on path to solutions rather than doom.

I’m looking forward to period of renaissance in the marketing and sales arena as companies learn to sell what they have and enhance patient adherence—the most easily attained new and expanded sales. I’ll be focusing on this in my upcoming course at the University of California Berkeley Extension course “Life Science Product Marketing: It’s All in The Plan”. You can read more about it in the attached flyer and register at

I suspect you’ll be getting your work schedule back to normal as you dig out from under the correspondence accumulated during the holiday period. The new year’s events really open with major activities starting Sunday Jan. 8th but didn’t want to neglect two upcoming activities already available this week.

  • BioCentury TV Today, See the Webcast Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, Continuously available starting at 9:00 a.m. ED; Topic: “Election Year: Day 1;” speakers: Debating the public health and social consequences:
Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council
Kirsten Moore of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Cynthia Pearson of the National Women’s Health Network

Analyzing the political calculus:

Mary Pendergast, former Deputy Commissioner and an architect of FDA’s call for emergency contraceptives during the Clinton administration
Peter Pitts of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, and former Associate Commissioner at FDA during the Plan B debate in the Bush administration
  • Medtech Frontiers, Thursday Evening, Jan. 5, 2012; Topic: “Shrinky-Dink Microfluidics for Biomedical Applications;” Speaker: Michelle Khine is currently an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at UC Irvine and scientific founder of Shrink Nanotechnologies

I’ve attached the list of upcoming events through March 2012 for your information. Also be looking at my new website which I’m launching with ability for me to update regularly. I’ll be providing details for my new courses to be taught at UC Berkeley Extension in Belmont off 101 and the Bio Biz course in June at the downtown center in San Francisco.  See attached summary.



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