What Lies Ahead for San Diego Life Sciences


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OVP in the financing was a syndicate of corporate investors, including Astellas Venture Management, Genzyme Ventures, and an undisclosed corporate investor. The three co-leaders of the company’s Series A financing—ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, and Venrock-also participated in the latest round of financing.

—China’s Emerging Role As a Biotech Competitor

Even though their intellectual property in biotech isn’t that strong right now, the Chinese have indicated that they’ll spend well into the billions to spur R&D. The question in the end is whether they’ll ultimately be able to challenge the United States for biotech supremacy.

If enough U.S.-trained Chinese return home, this is a possibility. And if U.S. VCs continue to set up in China and invest in fledgling biotech start-ups there, it could become more than a possibility.

Despite the hurdles to doing business in China, including the uneasy accommodation of private investment and concerns regarding intellectual property protection, Novartis and several other large pharmas already have opened up R&D operations there. This type of move reinforces our view that China’s biotech efforts will be slow, gradual, and strategic; but there’s little doubt that the Chinese will eventually be a competitive force in biotech.

—President Obama’s Health Care Reforms Will Ultimately Drive Growth

Experts forecast that health care reform will take away from the life sciences industry’s top line for two or three years-until 2013. But by 2020 these new initiatives will be driving growth for big pharma and biotech because more Americans will be accessing health care.

In addition, the FDA is showing signs of greater accommodation on the regulatory side—more good news for big pharma and biotech as they seek to reduce approval times, which enables expansion and enhancement of pipelines.

For life sciences companies, the plan of action is fairly straightforward: continue to focus on key drug candidates that can make a difference—both financially and in people’s lives—ratchet up strategic business development activity, deal making, collaboration, and take advantage of what appear to be improving capital markets.

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Jim Pope is a partner in the San Diego office of the Moss Adams accounting firm, which he joined in 2002 after 26 years with a Big 4 public accounting firm assisting fast-growth, dynamic, multi-national companies. A specialist in the life sciences industry, his areas of expertise include mergers and acquisitions, strategic tax planning, international tax planning, and corporate restructurings. Follow @

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