Bringing the Newest Therapies to the Clinic

This panel aims to bring a diverse group of experts & senior decision making staff from VCs, corporate pharma, and other investor types together to discuss topics such as:

  • How they make decisions
  • What can startups do to be more attractive?
  • Areas of high need
  • Overcrowded areas
  • Common mistakes/red flags

The moderator will guide the discussion through topics including how the investors source & vet novel therapeutic assets, what kinds of technology are of interest to them right now, and how they as investors work with a startup to move a new drug toward commercialization.


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Cynthia Cai, Ph.D.; MBA; M. Eng., Venture Partner, Viva BioInnovator (Moderator)

Dr. Cynthia Cai is an executive and investor with over twenty-five years of experience in the healthcare and life science industry. International experience in sales, marketing, business development, equity investment, and board membership. In-depth understanding of global biotech and life science business, widely recognized as having a unique ability to bridge collaborations between technology and business, between the west and east cultures.

Dr. Cai is currently a venture partner of Viva BioInnovator, investing in biotech innovation with novel solutions to cross multiple therapeutic areas. Before that, she served as senior advisor to Northern Light Venture Capital, led its healthcare investment effort in the US. She serves as a member of the board of F5 Therapeutics, Arthrosi Therapeutics, and AceLink Therapeutics.
Previously Dr. Cai had over 20 years of experience in leadership positions with Agilent Technologies. As senior director of marketing, she was responsible for its billion-dollar Chromatography, Automation, and Mass Spec. business. As business development and product marketing manager, she was involved in multiple acquisitions and divestitures, led a $500+ million-dollar flagship product development and its global commercialization, also led the company’s first full IVD registration.

Dr. Cai earned a B.A. and Master of Engineering from Tsinghua University, received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, and an MBA from The Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cai had been a regular speaker at healthcare investment conferences such as BIO; RESI; China Focus at J.P. Morgan, SAPA Annual Conference, and Wharton China Business Forum.

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Shyam Patel, Director, Business Development California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

Shyam Patel currently serves as Director for Business Development at CIRM. With $3 billion in funding and 168 active stem cell programs in its portfolio, CIRM is the world’s largest institution dedicated to addressing unmet medical needs with cellular medicine. At CIRM, Shyam manages the application and approval process for the flagship Clinical Trial Projects Program, which has 2019 annual budget of $123M. To date, CIRM has funded 53 clinical trials in transformative stem cell-based therapies spanning various indications including oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular and neurological disorders. Shyam also leads CIRM Business Development activities and manages the Industry Alliance Program (IAP). The IAP is a collaborative effort between CIRM and select industry partners to support development and commercialization of CIRM’s most promising portfolio projects. In 2018 alone, CIRM’s clinical stage projects leveraged CIRM funding to raise $1B in corporate partnership and venture investment funding. Prior to joining CIRM, Shyam led preclinical development of tissue-engineered graft implants as the CEO/CSO of NanoNerve, Inc. He also served as part-time Bioengineering faculty at UC Berkeley. Shyam holds a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the Universities of California, Berkeley & San Francisco.

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Somjeet Dey, Senior Manager Otsuka Pharmaceuticals

Somjeet has been working with Otsuka’s Business Development department since 2013 and he presently leads the company’s business development operations in the US for drugs, devices and diagnostics. Somjeet believes in Otsuka’s “big venture” spirit and is committed to strategically building a product pipeline that would sharpen the company’s long-term competitive edge. Consequently, he engages regularly with academia, accelerators and VCs to explore growth opportunities for Otsuka. He played an active role in the buy-side due diligence and negotiations for Otsuka’s recent acquisitions of Neurovance, Inc. and Visterra, Inc. Before joining Otsuka, Somjeet developed and implemented technology solutions for financial institutions across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. He received his MBA degree from The Ohio State University.

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Noel Jee, Principal Illumina Ventures

Noel joined Illumina Ventures in 2017 and focuses on investments in biopharma, life science tools, and diagnostics. Prior to joining Illumina Ventures, Noel was a management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting where he developed strategic business insights for biopharma and diagnostics companies. At L.E.K. Consulting, he developed commercial launch strategies for new therapeutics, engaged in diligence efforts for asset acquisitions, created portfolio expansion strategies for biopharma, and shaped organizational restructuring efforts for clients across the life science sector. ​ As an avid enthusiast of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Noel helped bootstrap an asthma-focused diagnostics startup during graduate school, created and ran an IT startup in college, and played an active role in the startup communities at both universities. Noel obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from the University of California, San Francisco, and a dual B.S. in Biochemistry and Physiology and Neurobiology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Owen Smith, Investment Director 4Bio Capital Partners

Owen is an Investment Director at 4BIO Capital with significant experience working with early-stage biotechnology companies.

Owen is currently a Director at Locki Therapeutics, and while at Arix Bioscience, previously acted as an Observer on the boards of LogicBio and Depixus.

Owen holds a Masters of Science in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics from the University of Oxford in and is also qualified as an accountant, having spent several years working in assurance and advisory roles at Grant Thornton with public and private clients.