University College London (UCL) is getting into the venture capital game. The university, which has spawned a host of biotechs, has rounded up £50 million ($71 million) from the European Investment Fund and Imperial Innovations to enable it to financially support spin out companies.
The American Heart Association, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) and AstraZeneca have chipped in a total of $75 million over 5 years to support "one brave idea from a visionary leader" to cure coronary heart disease.
Dexcom offered investors a glimpse of its high-profile partnership with Google Life Sciences to develop a next-generation continuous glucose monitor that would be tiny, disposable and affordable for the world's masses of Type 2 diabetics. A product isn't expected to result for another 5 years or so--but Dexcom has committed $40 million to the project, making this its largest R&D expense, the company said at this year's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
Roche has led a $175 million investment in Flatiron Health, the oncology software player set up by a pair of former Google employees in 2012. The deal, which also sees Roche sign up to use Flatiron's services, continues the Big Pharma's drive to connect its R&D teams to a broader pool of data.
There's not going to be a beyond-the-pill revolution in 2016. Frankly, pharma doesn't yet have the technology to move beyond pushing products to delivering outcomes. But drugmakers are teaming up with major technology players in deals that marry Big Data record-sifting with cutting-edge patient-monitoring gadgetry, and that's the kind of infrastructure necessary for big moves beyond the pill.
In some ways, the more pharma marketing changes, the more it stays the same. Despite moves into e-detailing, in-person meetings with doctors and speaker programs still rule in sales. Despite significant growth in pharma's digital advertising, television captures the lion's share of ad spending, and that's not likely to change soon.
The notion of human tissue-integrated biosensors to monitor chronic disease and health indicators may seem a bit outlandish. But startup Profusa has gotten some serious buy-in from investors and advisers to back precisely that vision--to provide real-time, minimally invasive monitoring of body chemistries.
Earlier this week, we learned the new, rather awkward name of Google Life Sciences--Verily Life Sciences. Now the entity has disclosed another very novel corporate name, this time for a robotic surgery and medical device joint venture with Johnson & Johnson--Verb Surgical--thereby definitively staking out new corporate names starting with the letter "V."
The success of Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci robot for minimally invasive surgery is creating a growing list of "fast followers," but the company believes it has created enough "moats" to fend them off for quite some time, according to Leerink equity analyst Richard Newitter.
Andreessen Horowitz is joining the rush of Silicon Valley investors looking for gold in biotech. The renowned VC shop has rounded up $200 million, poached a professor from Stanford University and given him a brief to ferret out the hottest startups at the intersection of software and biotech.