Despite volatility in biotech markets, investors remain enthusiastic

By Samantha Black, PhD, ScienceBoard editor in chief

January 31, 2022 -- While the biotech markets are down to start 2022, there is an optimistic view among biotech investors, according to Camille Samuels, partner at Venrock, a venture capital firm. Samuels participated in a panel discussion at Biotech Showcase 2022 and spoke with ScienceBoard as part of Biotech Finance Month.

2021 was not a great year for the biotech markets, which were down about 20%. Despite this downturn, funds from private markets poured into the sector. Biotech Showcase panelists discussed the dichotomy of this situation and how the public markets will be impacted by the frenzy in private markets.

"It's a short-term blip and a lot of the fundamentals are really positive, but interest rates are going up, which makes investors move away from growth opportunities toward more conservative and value-based investing," Samuels said. "And that's a trend we're just seeing out there."

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Samuels said she is excited about new RNA platforms in the field of immunology, noting that it feels like "we're in the second or third inning of understanding." Moreover, she has her investment eye on technology that empowers the consumer to be more involved in their health. Additionally, Samuels is monitoring orphan diseases and, specifically, the concept that science and medicine could come to appreciate that every disease is a unique combination of ten to 20 subdiseases and, in its own right, is treatable.

Samuels is a partner at Venrock, which was formed in 1969 to manage and build the investment activities of the Rockefeller family. It is one of the original venture capital firms in the world and has traditionally focused on very early-stage venture capital.

Working with entrepreneurs day in and day out, Samuels offered that these individuals should pay very close attention to whom they take money from. Investment journeys, Samuels explained, are often five to 10 years long.

"If you don't like the human that you're interacting with on your board of directors, then it's going to be pretty painful," Samuels said.

Additionally, Samuels advised, an entrepreneur is not only in sell mode, but they are also a buyer when interacting with investors. Samuels advised entrepreneurs not to take the first investor offering a check.

As an investor, Samuels is very involved in creating a community, particularly around women in biotech. By hosting targeted events, she connects more inexperienced entrepreneurs with more tenured executives to foster much-needed knowledge and experiences.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to biotech finance? Contact the editor today to learn more.


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