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Early Stage Biotechnology Investing – At China Speed

publication date: Jan 2, 2008
author/source: Greg B. Scott

Things happen quickly in China. They’ve even coined a phrase for it – “China Speed.”

In December 2007, the pieces of the puzzle finally came together for an event colleagues and I had been discussing for almost a year – the ChinaBio® Investor Forum. We wanted to bring together early stage biotechnology companies based or operating in China, with leading VCs from around the world in an investor forum on a par with events like the BIO Investor Forum held in San Francisco each October.

Were we nuts? We had less than six weeks to pull together a major conference from scratch and hold it in Shanghai in conjunction with Zero2IPO’s premier annual China VC conference. And we didn’t even have a venue yet. But, thanks to “China Speed” and the incredible support of Dr. Jason G. Jin and his crack staff at ShanghaiBio Corporation, and our team at ChinaBio® Accelerator, we did it.

Sponsors and partners like Merck, GSK, Wilson Sonsini, Perkins Coie, Zero2IPO, Unitalen, SABPA, CABS, BIOCOM, and government agencies from Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing, and, of course, ChinaBio® Today – 32 in all – came together to provide funding and logistical support.

They helped us attract over 150 attendees, including more than 50 VCs, many from the U.S. and Europe. Our official VC Partners included Bay City Capital, Sequoia Capital, BioVeda, HBM BioMed, and Mingly China Growth Fund. Attendees included executives from Lilly Ventures, Sofinnova, CIBC, Burrill, Mitsui Ventures, Roche, Covance, Baxter, Novartis, Medtronic, and Inserm (France), among many other notables.

Most importantly, based on our past year of work in China, we invited fifteen stellar early stage biotechnology and bio service companies to present their business plans to this world class audience. Our VC Partners selected the “Most Promising Company” in each category. PanAsia Bio of Shanghai and San Diego was the winning biotechnology company and Chiral Quest of Suzhou and New Jersey won the bio services category. The awards were presented by Unitalen Attorneys at Law, the largest private IP firm in China.

The word got out quickly – PanAsia’s investor in Japan called them the next day to offer congratulations. And most gratifying, several companies in addition to the winners have told me that they have already been approached by VCs interested in investing – which was the whole purpose of the event.

ChinaBio® Therapeutics, a spinout of ChinaBio® Accelerator, and our co-organizer, ShanghaiBio Corporation, also presented, though they were ineligible for the awards. But ShanghaiBio captured press attention by announcing that it would be targeting an IPO in the next year or two.

Several of the presenting companies in addition to PanAsia Bio had California/China organizations, including ChinaBio® Accelerator (San Diego), HD Biosciences (San Diego), LEAD Therapeutics (San Bruno), Mgene (San Diego), and MicuRX (Union City).

While we suffered a few near-sleepless nights, it was all worthwhile when the presenting entrepreneurs and the attending investors told us, unanimously, that they wanted us to do it again next year.

Will we be able to put on an even better event next year? Not to worry – we’re operating at China Speed.

For more information about the ChinaBio® Investor Forum or ChinaBio® Accelerator, please click here to contact Greg Scott or visit www.ChinaBio.biz.


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