As CEO of VIC Tech, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to review exciting new life science technologies on an ongoing basis and regularly speak with life science thought leaders, inventors, investors, and large company strategic partners. Medical innovation is experiencing unprecedented growth due to breakthrough advances in underlying technologies such as synthetic biology, gene editing, AI, machine learning, and more. These advances will extend both lifespan and healthspan (the part of a person’s life during which they are generally in good health) and are crucial to addressing issues such as our aging population with chronic diseases and the threat of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Over the next 20 years, continued rapid progress of cell and gene therapies will offer a complete cure for a wide array of diseases. There are now already over a thousand life science companies developing new cellular and gene therapies. Major shifts in how disease and injury are diagnosed and treated will upend current business models in both biopharma and medtech. There will be more emphasis on prevention and more personalized treatment options. Personalized treatment will simultaneously be more effective and have fewer unwanted side effects. Treatment and diagnostic options will move from the clinic to the home. Much of the innovation is being done by young companies. Companies focused on these growth areas have a unique opportunity to deliver substantial value to investors and, ultimately, to society.
At VIC Tech our portfolio companies are working toward several of these paradigm changes. For example, CardioWise uses machine learning based analysis of cardiac CT imaging to provide unprecedented insights and quantitative tracking of heart health. Vixiar Medical, Cellia Science, and Zebra Analytix are moving diagnostic tracking out of the clinics and hospitals to the home for heart health, blood analysis, and biomarker breath analysis, respectively. Solenic Medical’s novel non-invasive technology can prevent implant infections before they occur as well as treat infections. SFC Fluidics provides wearable drug delivery and monitoring technology. Solaris Vaccines can respond to emergent infectious disease threats at record speed. These are just a few examples from VIC’s portfolio alone.
While there will be actual cures for many genetic diseases, more complex, multi-factorial diseases are not likely to be completely curable in the near future. Nevertheless, dramatic progress is possible through preventative approaches and through personalized medicine and/or smart drug delivery that more specifically and effectively targets the given condition with fewer side effects. Too often, today, doctors and patients must accept side effects that reduce quality and length of life in order to address the immediate threats from the disease. Over the next 20 years, many more personalized and specifically targeted disease treatment approaches will become available. For example, within the VIC portfolio, BiologicsMD has a therapeutics platform technology for bone and hair loss disorders comprising smart drugs that target the specific locations of interest (bone or hair) and provide sustained therapeutic action at the target location.
In 2022, we made excellent progress on many fronts across the VIC Tech ecosystem. We greatly expanded our Medical Advisory Board that provides clinical expertise to our opportunity assessment team as we review new technologies that might provide the intellectual property foundation for new companies. Our portfolio companies made tremendous strides including large company strategic partner investment, building out teams with world recognized key opinion leaders, and acquisition of new equity investments and non-dilutive funding. In our affiliated VIC Investor Network we had a strong exit via buyout (~5x multiplier) that many members took advantage of.
I would like to express my gratitude to VIC’s employees, our portfolio companies’ leaders and employees, and our collective investors. We work in a challenging field and progress is never a straight line. Time frames are often difficult to predict. However, looking ahead, we are confident in our ability to navigate the ongoing challenges and continue to drive outstanding growth and value for our stakeholders.
Look for the VIC Annual Report Executive Summary (available to all readers) and the full confidential Annual Report (available to VIC shareholders only) in early February. We should have an exciting year ahead.
On behalf of the entire VIC team, I wish everyone a happy and productive 2023!
Chief Executive Officer | VIC Technology Venture Development
Co-Manager | VIC Investor Network