Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Days, Four Events

Well, so much for making this a weekly posting. I'll try and catch up.

The week of November 10 saw four great events that I was able to attend. There were, of course, many more great events this week, but my clients are only willing to pay so much to ensure that I'm staying connected with the industry – my 'day job' is finding candidates.

Wednesday evening was another great MIT Enterprise Forum event in their Innovation Series: Neuroscience Drug Discovery and Development: The Route to Disease-Modifying Therapies. Having been trained as a neuroscientist, registering for this one was more or less a Pavlovian response, but it was a great event in its own right. The Kirsch Auditorium in the Stata Center was packed. It was well organized, and a great panel representing industry and the investment community. Skip Irving of Health Advances did a great job as moderator. We heard about Merck's plans in the broad spectrum of neuroscience therapeutics from Darryle Schoepp, PhD, Merck's SVP and Franchise Head, Neuroscience; a novel approach to attacking neurological diseases associated with protein misfolding from Chris Adams, PhD, CBO at FoldRx; the perspectives of investors from Doug Fambrough, PhD, GP at Oxford; and those of patients from Todd Sherer, PhD, VP, Research Programs for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. What a great panel!

(Leave Cambridge late Wednesday after the reception from the Enterprise Forum, drive to Worcester, sleep for a few hours, be at the Boston Harbor Hotel at 7:00 the next morning for another ACG event.)

Thursday morning, bright and early, Howard Berke, CEO at Konarka, gave an enlightening overview of investing in the cleantech space at another one of ACG's excellent Dealmakers Breakfasts. Did you know that there are currently more than 400 solar companies on the planet? Think we'll have 400 in 5 years? The most interesting part of Howard's presentation was that I saw something that I don't normally see in cleantech presentations – data. Armed with tools from NVCA and other sources, Howard's presentation is what you can count on from ACG – a well organized event, an articulate, industry-leading speaker, Jack Derby's lively emceeing, and two strips of bacon.

(Back to the office to try to squeeze in some actual work, then back to State Street that evening.)

Thursday night was the PEHub Across America event at Clarke's in Boston. As the registration page says: no content, just networking. While well attended, lively audience and great food (best sliders I've ever had), I would lobby for a different venue next time. Too difficult to get around in the room. (Full disclosure: we sponsored the event, so I get to make snippy comments.)

(Leave downtown Boston late Thursday night, drive to Worcester, sleep for a few hours, back to UMass Boston at 8:00.)

Friday was the all-day MassMEDIC Investors Conference at UMass Boston (What a great facility! If you haven't been to the Kennedy Library, go.). Another great event. Lots of interesting early-stage companies with some really cool technologies. Some, frankly, look cool, but I wonder about the likelihood of their commercial success. We also heard from Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which recently released the draft certification application. I've heard her presentation many times, and the good news is that it has always been the same message. She is providing an open atmosphere for stakeholders to provide comments and participate in the implementation of this important legislation. The lunch speaker was a pleasant break from the constant med device diet - John Della Volpe, Director of Polling, Institute of Politics at Harvard. He provided some very interesting data showing how much better executed the Obama campaign was in attracting younger voters, and the analysis leads one to the unmistakable conclusion that the Democrats simply had better tools and understood their market better than the Republicans. It's all about the marketing, isn't it? Well, the proof will be in the pudding, and we'll have to see if the "change" is for the better.

(stop in the office, drive home, have a scotch, crawl into bed.)

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