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Aligning with the Anticipated "New Normal"

Ken Freeman, April 27, 2020

Managing through the COVID era, our work at VCapital continues.

As managing the Coronavirus moves forward, our work at VCapital continues within the lens of a “New Normal.” We remain encouraged about our strong investment strategy and current portfolio.

Continuing our focus on innovation in healthcare and information technology

COVID-19 has underscored the need for innovation, especially in healthcare and information technology. Innovation will be the key to improve how future health threats are dealt with. Innovation leads to more effective, faster, and less costly testing and treatment… and perhaps even prevention of future diseases. Advances in genomic and biomolecular technologies may be able to stop new scourges in their tracks. As epidemiologists grapple with the limitations of current science and art in modeling the spread and impact of COVID-19, innovations in information technology including artificial intelligence may enable far better tools.

We recognize that the COVID-19 crisis will slow progress for some of our portfolio companies. Some healthcare ventures may need to work through COVID-19-related hurdles to clinical trials. Some information technology companies may struggle to scale revenue with limitations on in-person selling as prospects focus on their urgent priorities. 

Our commitment is unwavering as we collectively march to our “New Normal.” 

Maintaining our momentum on all healthcare efforts 

Cancer: A distressing COVID-19 consequence has been postponement of many cancer treatments and surgeries, reminding us how important effective and efficient cancer treatment options continue to be.  Intensity Therapeutics, VCapital’s largest single investment announced its clinical trial collaboration agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb in mid-April.  The program will evaluate Intensity’s lead product in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb’s immune checkpoint inhibitor Yervoy®.   Read more >> This impressive news follows the start of clinical trials last year, dosing Intensity’s lead product with Merck’s Keytruda®. Read more>>

Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck are ranked number 4 and 6 in the global oncology market based on respective 2018 sales of $10.3 billion and $8.2 billion. Further collaborative testing with other oncology leaders would not surprise us. 

Childbirth: Another immediate COVID-19 consequence has been the need to move many childbirths out of hospitals into simpler supplementary birthing facilities. This underscores the importance of another VCapital portfolio company, Raydiant Oximetry. The application of its innovative fetal monitoring technology reduces unnecessary caesarean deliveries, resulting in better safety and health outcomes for mother and baby while reducing costs and needs for healthcare resources. 

Surgeries: Our newest portfolio company, SentiAR, with advances in augmented reality and 3D holographic visualization of a patient’s anatomy in interventional procedures, is expected to revolutionize the operating room. SentiAR’s Wearable Command Center device enables greater precision where instrumentation is the primary source of visual information and precise navigation is critical to success of the surgery. The result is increased accuracy and efficiency of time and resources. 

Extending its augmented reality platform beyond electrophysiology for cardiac ablation, SentiAR has integrated ultrasound into its platform for ICU usage for more precise, safer Central Venous Catheterization.  Roughly half of all ICU patients require this procedure. The COVID-19-driven increase in ICU patients has forced healthcare systems to deploy non-MD healthcare providers to implement such procedures, which earlier had been done by highly experienced specialists. Even with specialists, related complications with the procedure have been in the 10-15% range, and SentiAR’s application has demonstrated dramatic reduction in complications and time, important benefits in our resource-stretched healthcare system, and especially if severe coronavirus impact reemerges.  Read full story >>  

Understanding and taming the aging process

During the 20th century, U.S. life expectancy surged from 48 to 77 years, driven by better hygiene, development of vaccines and antibiotics, and better diagnosis and treatments of individual diseases. COVID-19’s severe impact on the elderly highlights the tremendous opportunity for innovation in better understanding and taming the aging process itself, the biggest factor in virtually everything leading to mortality today. 

Those who attended the VCapital symposium last summer on taming the aging process, led by Harvard’s renowned Dr. George Church, know about VCapital’s keen interest in this area. Scientists believe that further advances will be achieved by focusing on the underlying processes of aging itself. Read more>>  According to experts, high potential approaches may include gene alteration and the use of some existing drugs developed for other purposes. Venture capital will be key to driving these advances.  Read about Rejuvenate Bio

Leveraging IT to establish new methods for human connection 

Social distancing may be the buzz word for COVID-19, but new demands for virtual human connection will continue for telehealth, remote learning, corporate meetings, and more.  Who hasn’t come to appreciate the power of new tools such as Zoom? And in the midst of COVID-19, Verizon acquired Zoom competitor Blue Jeans for $500 million. 

What other opportunities lie ahead? Only time and the dreams of creative entrepreneurs will tell.  We appreciate your continued trust in VCapital. By staying the course for our investors, we believe our collective future in the new economy will be strong and rewarding.

We are available by phone or email to continue this conversation.
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