VC Briefing Recap: Tech Trends in the Life Sciences

Panelists (from left to right) Chris Wetmore (RSM), Jon Weiss (Relay Therapeutics), Karina Chmielewski (Third Rock Ventures), Elliot Menschik (AWS), and Moderator Karen Walker Beecher (The Bowdoin Group)

On 11/7, the NEVCA gathered experts at the intersection of technology and life science for the most recent addition to 2018’s lineup of VC Briefings: Tech Trends in the Life Sciences.

Chris Wetmore, Northeast Director of the Technology Advisory practice at event host RSM, gave a brief overview to kick things off, highlighting high level areas that the panel would focus on further.

Moderator Karen Walker Beecher poses questions on emerging tech trends

Moderated by Karen Walker Beecher, COO of The Bowdoin Group, panelists dove into emerging tech trends in 4 areas — cloud, automation, blockchain in clinical trials, and the digital supply chain––exploring areas where recent innovation is impacting the future for life science venture creation, as well as operational practices for existing firms.

Within each tech trend, the main focuses were:

  • Cloud Technology: Continued heavy adoption of cloud technology + reduction in CAPEX while increasing scalability
  • Automation: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AP automation, and budgeting/forecasting tools
  • Blockchain in Clinical Trials: Increasing accountability & transparency in clinical trial reporting, as well as improving data integrity & documentation
  • Digital Supply Chain: The mutual flow of data and processes between pharmaceutical companies, suppliers, and contract partners.

Third Rock Ventures Senior Director Karina Chmielewski summed up the state of play succinctly when weighing in on the critical value of data flow & integrity surrounding life sciences ventures, “Every company we build is a data science company”.

On the topic of cybersecurity, as well as the constant technology risks posed to life science companies today, AWS Head of Healthcare and Life Science Venture Capital Relationships, Elliot Menschik, detailed the critical importance of having evolving security processes to counter both social engineering and crypto-locker exploits, “There’s no such thing as perfect security in any system, but there are certainly safeguards that minimize those problems”.

Jon Weiss of Relay Therapeutics provides the company perspective

After each panelist fielded questions and provided their unique insight, the afternoon moved into a Q&A section. The lunchtime crowd came hungry for both pasta salad and key life science knowledge, as a dozen questions popped up covering everything from cybersecurity to Cambridge’s “labs of the future”.

The 90-minute event was packed tight with experience and curiosity as the panelists, from every corner of the industry, shared their insights and predictions for how today’s emerging tech trends continue to influence the life sciences sector. Thanks to all who came to such a fantastic, educational event, and a special shoutout to our sponsors at RSM and AWS, without whom we could not have done it. See you next time!

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Ari Glantz of the NEVCA poses for a photo with our all-star panel