Investor’s Corner: Connecting startups with investors in San Francisco

In this short article, Michael Kline, PhD, Director of Outreach and Technology Development in the Office of Technology Commercialization, shares details from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and Biotech Showcase, emphasizing the importance of making connections in the ever-changing world of scientific and medical technologies. Michael works with KickStart Venture Services, commercialization managers in the Office of Technology Commercialization, UNC faculty, and entrepreneurs to help find partners and investors for UNC technologies and ventures.

Field notes from Michael Kline:

The Office of Technology Commercialization recognizes that access to expertise and funding is key to the success of startups and that getting in front of the right investors can be challenging. The Office of Technology Commercialization strives to develop strong relationships with investor networks and institutional and strategic venture capital funds to help open doors for emerging companies. The team does so by attending key national conferences each year to foster the network and engage with new potential partners and investors.

Recently I attended the 38th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, and the 12th annual Biotech Showcase. J.P. Morgan is the healthcare industry’s largest investing conference. Thousands of healthcare and industry executives, technology innovators, and investors descend on San Francisco each January. While the conference is held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, participants meet at locations across downtown San Francisco, due to the large number of participants. Biotech Showcase is timed to leverage the presence of this group of healthcare industry professionals and offers an organized forum and meeting venue for partnering meetings.

Conferences like J.P. Morgan and Biotech Showcase are highly valuable opportunities for us to engage with potential partners and investors. Continuously building and maintaining our network with industry executives, business development leaders, and investors allows us to better support technologies and ventures developed at the university.

Between the two conferences, I participated in nearly thirty meetings with investors and biotech business development leaders. Meetings like these serve to build relationships, understand what the industry and investors are looking for, and to introduce university technologies and ventures that align with their interests. The Office of Technology Commercialization has increased its presence at many similar conferences throughout the year, the largest of which is the annual BIO International Convention.

Many of our technology commercialization and KickStart staff attend BIO each year, and in the past few years our team has averaged nearly seventy partnering meetings. Sometimes there is an immediate match between unmet need and technology as a result of these conferences. Other times, the relationship leads to business partnerships down the line. Most of the time, we receive feedback that is valuable for us, our faculty, and entrepreneurs leading new ventures.

There are also several regional conferences, including CED Venture Connect Summit and SE BIO Investor & Partnering Forum, that serve similar purposes. Due to the rapidly evolving landscapes of scientific and medical technologies, continual engagement with commercial entities, experts, and investors is an increasing necessity for successful commercialization of technology. UNC, KickStart, and the Office of Technology Commercialization are committed to expanding our networks and relationships so that innovations can efficiently be brought to market.

If you are interested in KickStart Venture Services showcasing your technology or startup at events such as J.P. Morgan, please contact KickStart at kickstart@unc.edu.