SEED FUNDS

Investing in Emerging Science to Pursue High Rewards

This panel features four panelists and a moderator exploring the benefits and risks associated with funding seed-stage life sciences companies. Topics may include:

  • How much proof-of-concept validation is needed for seed funding
  • What increased benefit is needed to mitigate the increased risk
  • What is unique in the structure of seed-stage deals (convertible notes vs straight equity)
  • Does the early stage of the company lead investors to take a more active role

Many investors prefer to wait for later stages due to the decreased risk of failure. Those investors who are willing to take the risk of seed-stage investment will share their approach and selection criteria when assessing early-stage companies.

Moderator:

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Gary Gershony, Medical Device Committee, Life Science Angels

Dr. Gershony grew up in Toronto, Canada and attended the University of Toronto where he graduated from medical school at age 23. He continued his training in internal medicine and general cardiology at the University of Toronto where he also served as Chief Medical Resident. Dr. Gershony continued his training in interventional cardiology, serving a fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta under the auspices of Dr. Andreas Grüntzig, the inventor of coronary and peripheral angioplasty. From 1993-1997, Dr. Gershony was Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories and Interventional Cardiology at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. For the past 20 years he has practiced interventional cardiology at John Muir Cardiovascular Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is currently the Director of Cardiovascular Research, Education and Technology, and has established a successful Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) program. Dr. Gershony’s research interests include novel devices for complex coronary and peripheral angioplasty, percutaneous valve therapies and local drug-delivery to prevent restenosis. He has participated in numerous multi-center clinical trials as a Principal Investigator. Dr. Gershony is board certified in general cardiology and interventional cardiology and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the Royal College of Physicians, the American Heart Association and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Dr. Gershony has authored over 100 manuscripts and abstracts in the field of cardiology and is a regularly invited faculty lecturer to the preeminent U.S. and international interventional cardiology meetings.

Dr. Gershony was the Founder of Vascular Solutions, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN), which had a successful IPO in 2000, and for which he served as Chief Medical Officer and a member of the Board of Directors from 1996-2002. Dr. Gershony was the principal inventor of the Duett™ Vascular Sealing Device manufactured by Vascular Solutions. Dr. Gershony was also the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AngioScore, Inc. (Fremont, CA), a medical device company devoted to developing unique angioplasty scoring balloon catheters to address a variety of important clinical needs during coronary and peripheral interventional procedures. He was a member of the senior management team from 2003 until AngioScore’s successful acquisition in 2014.

Dr. Gershony has served on the adjunct faculty of the Stanford Biodesign Innovation Program. He also completed an Executive Program in finance and accounting (FANFE) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2007.

Dr. Gershony is the author of 10 issued medical device patents. He has been a member of the scientific advisory board or a consultant to numerous medical device companies and venture capitalists in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

Dr. Gershony is an active early stage MedTech company investor and mentor, a member of Life Science Angels Medical Device and Digital Health Committee, and a member of the Band of Angels.

Panelists:

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Prathna Ramesh, Executive Director, Maple Leaf Angels (MLA)

Prathna joined MLA in 2017. As Managing Director, she works collaboratively with MLA’s Board of Directors to set overall strategic and operational objectives for the group. She manages the MLA48 Fund I & II Limited Partnership, an Angel fund making investment decisions in 48 hours. Prior to this, she worked with About Communications, a Telecommunications & Information Technology firm. Prathna brings experience in account management, client operations and project management. She holds a B.Com degree from the Rotman Commerce Program at the University of Toronto.

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Nancy Torres Kaufman, CEO, Beacon Capital

Nancy Torres Kaufman is the founder of Beacon Capital. A Cuban born emigrant and serial entrepreneur passionate about impact and humanitarian efforts. She has accumulated 19 years of experience in advisory, life science and biotechnology investments. As an entrepreneur and financier, she has completed $13 billion of transaction experience in the areas of Aviation, Banking & Insurance, Media, Fine Art, and Life Science/Pharma. Nancy founded her social impact family office, Beacon Capital, some 10 years ago. Beacon Capital has financed and advised over 49 biotechnology companies, with a cumulative amount of $1.5 billion of family office capital invested. In 2017 Beacon Capital and family was involved in the acquisition and repositioning of the Legacy Novartis Campus in Suffern, New York. The 162 acres campus was the first home of Beacon Life Science Center for Research, a strategy which subsequently raised interest from the Palm Beach Economic Development Unit recruiting the project to be established in Jupiter, Florida. Prior to founding Beacon Capital Nancy was a team member of investment boutique Violy & Co a group focused on the expansion and diversification of ultra-wealthy multigenerational family offices. In terms of her education, Nancy was awarded a full academic Scholarship to the College of St. Elizabeth, consisting of an accelerated medical program with UMDNJ for her Bachelors in Biochemistry, and Women’s Leadership at Yale School of Management. Nancy is based in Florida and New York.

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Jun Deng, Investment Partner, Joyance Partners

Jun has over a decade of experience in biomedical research and years of experience in venture capital investment. Jun shapes strategy for health-tech and bio-tech related investments, leads the “Inception” program for academies and universities, and has led more than a dozen investments across the US and Europe. So far, Jun has been involved in 50+ investments in technology and life science innovation. Jun received her PhD in molecular physiology at UCLA. She is also an investor at Health Tech Capital, a mentor at Singularity University, and an Investment Partner at Social Starts.

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Anya Roy, Head, Illumina Accelerator Cambridge, Illumina

Illumina Accelerator is a company creation engine building and investing in early-stage startups with extensive mentorship, financial support, and access to genomics systems and lab space in the SF Bay Area and Cambridge (UK). Every 6 months, Illumina Accelerator invests in 3-5 startups advancing breakthrough applications in genomics, including therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, synthetic biology, software/hardware, and direct-to-consumer. Since 2014, we have invested in more than 40 companies who have collectively raised over $550M in VC funding. 

At RESI, we’re connecting with early-stage companies, as well as other folks to collaborate with or co-invest in our genomics-driven startups.  We’re also interested in connecting with academia and medical centers to recruit talented entrepreneurs to apply to Illumina Accelerator.