The Corporate Landscape Morphed & New Opportunities Abound

This panel discusses what strategies are employed by corporate venture capital firms for investments and partnerships with early-stage companies. Potential topics for the panel include:

  • What corporate VCs look for in companies
  • What working with a corporate VC entails
  • What companies should do to be relevant to the corporate VC

Panelists could also discuss the relationship between the corporate venture capital firm and the parent company and how it affects investment criteria.


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Jorge Aquino, Director of Ventures, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (Moderator)

Jorge Aquino is Director of Ventures for Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. He is an experienced Business Development professional providing leadership and guidance to Johns Hopkins University’s FastForward innovation hub with respect to the development and growth of high value start-up companies. Mr. Aquino has raised the profile of Johns Hopkins University. During his time at Johns Hopkins FastForward companies have raised more than $1.8B. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins University Mr. Aquino led M&A and strategic partnering activities for Canon Biomedical, Inc. — the lifesciences division of Canon USA, Inc. Previously, Mr. Aquino was Senior Manager of Business Development for Emergent BioSolutions Inc. where he was involved in numerous M&A transactions including the acquisition of Trubion Pharmaceuticals and Cangene, Inc. Prior to Emergent Mr. Aquino managed the biotech portfolio of Maryland Venture Fund, a division of the Maryland Dept. of Business & Economic Development. Mr. Aquino received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, M.S. in Biotechnology from the Johns Hopkins University and MBA from Loyola University of Maryland.

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Michael Baran, Executive Director, WRD and Partner, Pfizer Ventures

As Partner on the Pfizer Ventures team and Executive Director in the Emerging Science and Innovation group, Mike has responsibility for growing venture investment transactions and managing equity investments aligned with future directions of Pfizer. He currently has responsibility for Pfizer’s investments in Accelerator NYC, Magnolia Neurosciences, BlueLight Therapeutics, ImCheck Therapeutics, ImmunOs Therapeutics, Autobahn Therapeutics, and Mediar Therapeutics.

From 2017-2018 Mike served as Senior Director of Portfolio Strategy and was responsible for critically assessing the R&D portfolio from a volume, value, quality, risk and productivity perspective with the ultimate objective of maximizing R&D productivity and value generation. From 2011-2017 Mike was Senior Director, Scientific Affairs for the R&D President’s Office where he was responsible for enabling and communicating the R&D strategic agenda as well as leading colleague development capabilities. Mike joined Pfizer in 2008 in the market access space providing strategic and analytical support around marketing and managed care contracting with commercial and government payers.

Prior to 2008, Mike worked within the NIH Protein Structure Initiative’s Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium coordinating protein structure production efforts, including bioinformatics, protein expression/purification and 3D structure determination. Mike is also a co-founder of Nexomics Biosciences, a NJ based biotechnology company focused on providing gene-2-structure services as well as early stage drug target validation. He is actively involved in the local biotechnology community participating in eLabNYC, Rutgers HealthAdvance, and the BioIdea NYC.

Mike earned his Ph.D. from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School / Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in biochemistry where his research focused on structural biology and scientific software development. He holds a M.B.A. from Rutgers Business School with a focus in pharmaceutical management and received his B.S. in Biochemistry / Information Technology from Syracuse University.

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Mark Ralph, Executive Director, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund

After completing his Master’s degree in chemistry, Mark joined Boehringer Ingelheim in 2001 as an Associate in the medicinal chemistry department. During his tenure with the company, Mark has successfully transitioned into several diverse roles. As a manager of international external resources, he led the development and implementation of processes that were responsible for increased productivity from outsourced resources in China and India. Upon completion of his MBA (Finance) in 2009, Mark took a new role as a finance manager in the prescription medicine controlling group, in which, he provided fiscal guidance to brand teams in the planning and execution of direct promotion budgets. In his current position, Mark is responsible for leading cross functional teams in the identification and evaluation of new discovery stage platform technologies. Through the management of the research and development contracts group, he is also responsible for leading the negotiation of strategic partnerships with universities and evaluation studies with biotechnology companies and contract research organizations.

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Miles Gerson, Partner, Takeda Ventures

Miles Gerson joined Takeda Ventures, Inc. (TVI) in April 2020, as a Partner, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He brings more than 15 years of experience in life science venture investing, business development, licensing, technology transfer, and corporate engagement for innovation. He has specialized in company formation and investment diligence for both US and European-based venture firms and has served as strategic advisor to startup executives and board members. He has held multiple operational roles spanning founding management, head of finance, business development, and legal for venture-backed and publicly traded companies, and previously served as UCLA’s Managing Officer of Business Development, focusing on expanding commercialization of UCLA’s novel technologies, licensing, and engaging industry for external innovation, spin-outs, and collaborations. Miles holds both a Bachelor and Master Degree’s in Neuroscience from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and a JD/MBA in Strategic Management in Life & Engineering Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.