This morning at the SENS conference, Edward James Olmos kicks off the day with some opening remarks before Jim O’Neill delivers his keynote.
Mithril, the two year old investment firm which Jim serves as COO, specializes in emerging technology start-ups. For example, they recently invested in Magforce, a nanotechnology-based cancer treatment company, and Helion Energy, another impressive start up which focuses on fusion energy. Thiel investment firm Breakout Labs has invested in a company called Immusoft, whose mission is to develop a completely new platform for delivering medicines, by programming a patient’s own cells to become miniature drug factories (how freaking awesome is that?!)
“These companies are addressing important problems with scientific rigor, and have good business models. Transformative and durable are characteristics we seek when deciding on which companies to invest in,” states O’Neill, and we seek “extreme examples of independent thinking.”
So, whats the hold up when it comes to commercializing emerging, potentially life saving biotechnology? Essentially, one reason is the fact that biotech is highly regulated, in addition to the elements one works with in biotech, we know that organisms are not always easily controlled.
Here in Silicon Valley, bio-hacking is quite common. “The growth of bio-hacking helps to foster new scientific ideas for everyone”, O’Neill states, “and is part of the solution to putting consumer at center of health care and reducing barriers to entry to scientific innovation. We need people to interact with health system as a consumer, not as a patient.”