Issue #61. Friday, July 31
For this edition of the Zoic newsletter, we’ll be continuing our feature on COVID-19 related technologies that are still platforms, as well as other technologies we are keeping an eye on. The pandemic has certainly created some opportunities for diagnostic, device, and vaccine companies. Other companies are using the grants available to both help with the pandemic and advance their technologies. We prefer to see this approach rather than looking at companies that were created solely for the purpose of dealing with the pandemic, as we see this as still a short-term issue.-Neal
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Super Angel to 150 Startup Investments a Year
Guest Speaker Sean O’Sullivan
Joining the Market Meditations podcast is Sean O’Sullivan, Managing General Partner at SOSV Capital.
After Sean O’Sullivan’s first startup when public in 1994, he founded SOSV in 1995 as a “super angel”. In 2007, based on the success of two dozen investments that had done remarkably well, Sean began aggressively expanding SOSV, transitioning it from a personal investment vehicle into an organization that today has over 110 staff supporting investments in over 150 new startups every year. In 2020, SOSV has 8 general partners operating globally, with SOSV’s major offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei, San Francisco, New York, Cork, and Tokyo.
Sean got his entrepreneurial start in 1985 as a founder of MapInfo, bringing street mapping technology to personal computers. MapInfo went on to become a $200 million revenue public company with over 1,000 employees worldwide. In 1996, while at the helm of his second company, NetCentric, he created “software for inside the Internet” and is credited with co-creating the term “cloud computing” alongside George Favaloro from Compaq.
Sean continued as an entrepreneur and investor, creating and supporting a range of business, humanitarian, and educational endeavors. A major promoter of economic and social development, he founded JumpStart International in 2003. JumpStart was a leading humanitarian engineering organization based in Baghdad and which operated throughout Iraq during the post-war period of 2003-2006. He spent a few years running JumpStart, which for a time had a staff of over 3000, running up to 80 projects at a time in Baghdad, Fallujah, and Najaf. As the benefactor of the O’Sullivan Foundation, Sean has also been a primary funder of organizations such as the Khan Academy, Mathletes, and CoderDojo.
As the founding Chairman of the Irish Entrepreneurship Forum and founder of Open Ireland, he was a leader and influencer of Irish government policy in fueling economic growth and recovery in the technology sector. Sean was a regular investment panelist on the popular RTÉ TV show Dragon’s Den and an occasional columnist for Ireland’s Sunday Business Post.
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Deal Flow News & Insights
COVID-19 Diagnostics, Allergies, and Molecular-Scale Diagnostics Within Easy Reach
We have discussed previously how current diagnostic testing methods, and their supply issues, have contributed to the testing delays and bottlenecks that we still see in the U.S. For example, sample preparation solutions and reagents are still needed in massive quantities that suppliers are still struggling to match. Even new diagnostics that are being developed in startup suffer from these shortages, perhaps even more so if they are not currently approved tests. Further investment is still being seen from the U.S. government in securing more sampling and diagnostic reagents in order to overcome these issues. We often look at diagnostic technologies and see some emerging that don’t use any chemical or biological reagents. These use electrochemical or even semiconductor architecture. This is not only advantageous for cost, manufacturing, and miniaturization, but also in reducing the supply chain burden that will continue, even when the pandemic is over.
Also in COVID-19 news, we still are tracking life sign monitoring equipment and technologies. From wearables to even smart clothes these platforms can still be useful to show outbreaks of symptoms and clusters of infections. In the future, these technologies can be used to great effect to monitor at-risk populations, such as those returning from surgery, those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, or even to monitor healthy individuals and warn of impending issues.
In general medical technology advances, we still see continuous improvement in neuromodulation platforms. A recent study showed patients improving in incontinence symptoms with this therapy. This type of issue affects a large number of people, without any proper treatment, whether through surgery, device, or even pharmaceuticals. Neuromodulation can provide an effective treatment while also not requiring any invasive procedure, implants or potential drug side effects.
In diagnostic news, we are seeing the true potential of true platforms, especially if they can bring molecular-scale diagnostics within easy reach of consumers. Such platforms can allow people to diagnose their conditions much more quickly and efficiently, from infectious diseases to mental conditions to even allergies. For example, we see progress in being able to diagnose PTSD with a new molecular diagnostic. This can be much simpler yet also more accurate than current methods, which are limited to behavioral or imaging methods. This can also allow tracking of progress, to ensure treatments are being effective and not harmful before those side effects appear.
Allergies can also lead to life-threatening conditions; for example, some tick bites can cause severe allergies to red meat. Ticks are also an increasing issue, especially in the North-east of the US. However, these allergies may not appear until an actual severe event. Even these applications can be very useful, especially if paired with a diagnostic technology that is already in use for broad uses. An allergy test was recently approved that can use an existing method, although it does require a lab at the moment.
HDT BIO’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate HDT-301 Induces Neutralizing Antibody Responses after a Single Injection
Working together, scientists at HDT Bio Corp., PAI Life Sciences Inc., and the University of Washington have developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that rapidly generates a broad immune response against coronavirus with just one injection. • The vaccine candidate, HDT-301 is a stable RNA vaccine formulated using HDT Bio’s proprietary hybrid lipid inorganic nanoparticle (LION™) formulation platform.In a study published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team demonstrated that primates receiving just a single intramuscular injection of HDT-301 generated robust levels of antibodies responsible for neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.Describing HDT-301, HDT Bio CEO Dr. Steven Reed explained, “We were pleased to see a strong antibody response and that the antibodies were predominantly those capable of neutralizing the SARS CoV-2 spike (S) protein.” Dr. Reed also observed, “HDT-301 successfully generated a robust response in older as well as in very old animals, which is very important in view of the particular unmet need for vaccines that can prevent older adults from contracting severe, life-threatening COVID-19.”
ABOUT HDT BIO: HDT Bio Corp’s mission is to identify and develop immune-activating vaccines and therapeutics based on state-or-the-art technologies in order to improve human health on a global scale. http://www.hdt.bio
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|The Biweekly Dealflow Update, curated by the team at Zoic Capital.|
COVID-19 Diagnostics, Allergies, and Molecular-Scale Diagnostics Within Easy Reach
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