By: Michael Esquivel
If your work involves life sciences dealmaking, you know it’s the time of year to start firming up your plans for the week of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. In the last 10 years, the second week of January in San Francisco has evolved from a J.P. Morgan private meeting for healthcare investors to a week packed solid with conferences, seminars and, of course, parties and receptions related to all things life sciences and healthcare.
Investors come to San Francisco expecting to do deals, but also to gain a sense of the direction the industry is going to take in the next 12 months. Year 2016 was marked by the outcomes of the watershed Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the contentious presidential election in the United States—events that affected life sciences companies and markets as a whole. It was also the year New York outpaced Silicon Valley in digital health funding for the first time ever, according to a recent CB Insights survey.
2017 Promises to Usher in Unprecedented Macro-Economic Challenges
The Fed recently raised its key interest rate by 0.25% and signaled that more increases should be expected in 2017. The new administration is taking shape and may potentially include an FDA commissioner who has argued the agency should consider safety when evaluating new drugs and devices and efficacy only after the drug has been legalized.
President-elect Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, appears committed to trying to make good on candidate Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Up for Discussion in SF: Rare Diseases, Venture Philanthropy, “Tech Giants” as Investors and More
At Biotech Showcase, the largest of the events running concurrently with JPM, keynote sessions will cover the increasing importance of real-world evidence, the role of diversity in the industry, what to expect from the Trump administration, investor’s increasing interest in rare diseases, the state of financial markets and the media’s relationship with the industry.
The East/West CEO Conference, which features my Fenwick colleague Matt Rossiter, also offers sessions on diversity and the media’s perception of the industry, as well as social responsibility and venture philanthropy.
OneMedForum explores the gamut of capital sources including relatively new options available under the JOBS Act and family offices and foundations. At RESI, the agenda also is heavy on analysis of various funding sources, but notably includes a session on venture philanthropy (a popular topic this year) and the role of “tech giants” as investors.
Tech players have a growing presence during the week that has been traditionally all about biotech. Biotech Showcase’s producers added two stand-alone events last year: The MedTech Showcase and the Digital Medicine Showcase. This year, both events have been expanded to two full days.
Finally, two therapeutic conferences will take place on January 8 in San Francisco during JP Morgan week. The 4th Annual Dermatology Summit, a one-day event, will be held at the Palace Hotel. UCSF will host its Digital Orthopaedics Conference at the InterContinental Hotel.
This is by no way a complete list of events. There are also networking receptions (including Fenwick’s), fun runs, breakfast briefings and late night soirées too numerous to mention here. Publisher Big3Bio has produced a guide to all of the events during what it calls BioWeekSF and an IR firm has posted a list of what it terms private events, but both sources admit they’ve no doubt missed some.
It’s safe to say that in the coming year life sciences, biotech and digital health will play a more important role in the economy as a whole, and traditional tech companies will increase their footprint in these industries.