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A Recap of the 21st Anniversary Forum | SEBIO

A Recap of the 21st Anniversary Forum

Posted by on Nov 13, 2019

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An impressive group of investors and companies attended the 21st Southeast BIO Investor & Partnering Forum (SEBIO) on November 6-7th at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. The Forum is the Southeast’s only regional life sciences venture capital conference.

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“The success of this year’s Forum is a testament to SEBIO’s significant role in connecting investment capital from up and down the eastern U.S. with the most promising biomedical companies for our seven-state region,” said Tina McKeon, Chair of SEBIO and Partner at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend. “The conference included fresh perspectives on how companies can best succeed in the biotechnology and medical device ecosystem through traditional venture funding, corporate venture funding, and partnering.  The Forum also stands out as a quality networking event, where company officers and interact freely with investors, serial entrepreneurs, and each other.”

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The Forum featured a Women in Life Sciences Panel, Sue Washer, President & CEO, AGTC, moderator; Heather Behanna, PhD, Principal, SR One; Cynthia (Cindy) Collins, CEO, Editas Medicine; and Carol Schafer, Formerly Vice Chair, Equity Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Securities and currently Managing Partner, Hyphen Advisors, LLC. The panel provided candid observations about the importance of diversity in the industry.

The early stage event allowed participants to introduce their companies to selected mentoring teams, which then chose the four best to participate in the Early-Stage Shootout. During the Early-Stage Shootout, the companies had the opportunity to present to the entire conference including a panel of celebrity judges. The selected participants for the Early-Stage Shootout were: Evren Technologies, Gainesville FL; Achelios Therapeutics, Chapel Hill, NC; Ares Immunotherapy, Cartersville GA; and DermaSensor, Miami FL.  The celebrity judges selected DermaSensor as the early stage winner.  

Thursday’s keynote address was presented by Dennis Purcell, Founder and Senior Advisor of Aisling Capital, a leading investment firm that invests in companies developing and commercializing important and innovative healthcare products, services and technologies.

The conference was kicked off by an all-star Corporate Venture Capital  panel featuring moderator and panelists John Gustofson, Managing Director for the Boston area of AbbVie Ventures; Gladys Nunez, Principal, of Amgen Ventures; Diana Bernstein, Senior Associate, MRL Ventures Fund (Merck); and Jon Edwards of Medicxi. 

Perhaps the most impactful aspect of the conference was the announcement by Tina McKeon and Machelle Shields, Strategic Advisor for EBG Advisors, Inc., the respective Chairs of SEBIO and the Southeast Medical Device Association (SEMDA) of the long-awaited merger of the two organizations.  The yet-to-be named organization, currently operating under the name of the Southeastern Life Sciences Alliance will truly be the one marketplace for the biomedical industry in the region.  The combined organization will hold its first conference May 2020 in Charleston SC at the Wild Dunes Resort.  The consolidated organization will be able to attract more out-of-region capital and more corporations to partner with the best and brightest companies from across the burgeoning southeastern landscape.

Side-by-side Biotech/Pharma and Diagnostics/Medtech breakfast panels featured a fireside chat about Antios Therapeutics between Abel De La Rosa, PhD, CEO, Antios Therapeutics, and Gerry Brunk, Managing Director, Lumira Ventures, and a discussion  about confluence of devices, diagnostics and data merging featuring Joe Cook, III, Managing Director, Mountain Group Partners, and Ron Lattanze, CEO, Lucerno Dynamics, with Brent Bellows, PhD, Partner, Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies, moderating.

Other program highlights included Tales from the Trenches: Ventures Capital Trends with Lou Berneman, Founding Partner, Osage University Partners; updates from all 7 of the state BIO affiliates; Tales From the Road with Andrew Krouse, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UVA Licensing & Ventures; and a panel featuring the story of Vivex Biomedical: Tissue-Derived Biologic Therapies with Tom Callaway, Venture Partner, HealthQuest Capital, moderator; Tracy S. Anderson, Founder, Vivex; John A. McCallum, Chairman, Vivex and Managing Partner, JAM Capital plus Peter Wehrly, CEO, Vivex.

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