Archive for November, 2011

Personalized Medicine

November 15, 2011

FountainBlue’s November 14 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Personalized Medicine, Biomarkers, Invitro Diagnostics: The Science Advances, The Business Opportunities, The Cultural Dilemmas. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and experiences on our panel, representing decades of expertise in personalized medicine, biopharma, oncology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, proteomics, and optics. They each spoke eloquently about the evolution of the personalized medicine industry and the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Our panelists are quite bullish about the opportunities in personalized medicine, remarking on the great progress made over the last decade or two, leveraging revolutionary technologies, research and other innovations and success stories from companies such as Cepheid, Genomic Health, Roche and Gilead. As we move from the first generation of non-specific diagnosis focused on treating symptoms (all typical of health care today), we gravitate toward solutions which require information correlation, providing organized therapies targeting those who would be most responsive to them, based on detailed analysis and research prior to treatment, known as translational medicine. Examples of such include digital imaging, genetic predisposition testing, and clinical genomics. The longer-term objectives for personalized medicine might include disease prevention and effective chronic disease management, and might leverage molecular medicine, CA diagnostics, pre-symptomatic treatment and lifetime treatment. (Source: Richard Bakalar, MD, IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences, November 3, 2004.)
Based on a Bernard Associates October 2003 report published in, the opportunities in personalized medicine might include the following:
• Addressing patients with adverse event risk
• Serving treatment non-responders
• Serving treatment low-responders
• Introducing solutions to market with faster approvals
• Recruiting patients with less effective, more expensive drugs to new treatment
• Increasing use of drugs for diagnosed patients not treated
• Expanding treatments to new diseases and subgroups
• Diagnosing earlier and leveraging preventive treatments
• Enhancing patient compliance
• Securing better reimbursements for best-in-class drugs
Our panelists made the following comments and advice:
• Because of the nature of the industry, personalized medicine is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, with opportunities for success for only the most committed and resilient.
• Segmenting the patient base (high/low responders, high/low likelihood of recurrence for example) will provide better treatment for the patients, better data for the practitioners, better results for the payers and insurers alike.
• Making solutions easy for the physicians to use, for patients to take, will increase the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
o Getting quick test results will help doctors more quickly make diagnosis and recommend treatments, and also increase the likelihood that the patients will begin treatment. An example is TB testing which currently may take a week, but may eventually take an hour or two, while the patient is still in the office.
o Educate physicians about how to fold these easy-to-implement solutions into their day-to-day practice cost-effectively, and within reimbursement requirements and regulations.
• Focus on creating actionable testing to striate the patient base and recommend treatments based on patient-specific data.
• Create more cost-effective, more effective alternatives to current traditional treatments to 1) serve a more niche market, or a larger market, 2) save costs for patients and insurers, 3)
• Collaborate with clinicians to create value-based pricing and a more receptive regulatory environment conducive to more effective translational medicine.
• Leverage experts in databases and automated systems who can analyze data and recommend treatments, help research differences and similarities in patient and disease and further the research and effectiveness of personalized medicine overall.
• Research families/chapters of diseases as well as types of patients and their correlations with disease susceptibility, with an eye to prevention and treatment.
• There are huge opportunities around treatment resistance – whether it’s a low-responding patient or a patient which develops resistance to treatment over time.
o If it’s delayed resistance, make sure that lab data is current, rather than that taken at the onset of treatment.
o With that said, the difference between samples taken at the beginning of treatment and after the resistance has developed might give insights about the disease, the treatment and/or the patient and classes of each.
• Combination therapies might address the needs of low/non responders, or those who have developed resistance following initial treatment.
As the industry evolves, here are some critical questions to consider:
• Will patients be willing to pay higher prices for treatments more specific to their profile?
• Will diagnostics become more valued and more expensive as people begin to recognize the importance of detailed patient data prior to treatment?
• Will pharma continue to the most influential stakeholder?
• How can patient groups, advocacy groups, clinical collaboration groups, insurers, pharma and other stakeholders better collaborate?
• Will it be cost-effective enough to provide conclusive data which physicians would embrace?
• Will physicians have the time and inclination to embrace new diagnostics and personalized treatments? What are some practical financial incentives for them to do so?
• Will payers band together to insist on better diagnostics and more specialized treatment options based on more sophisticated diagnostics? How will payers work with insurers and physicians and others to make this so?
• What is the most efficient way to measure and communicate ROI and overall savings for diagnosis and treatments?
• Who will fund entrepreneurial innovations in this area, and if it’s not funded, how will the industry continue to evolve?
• How will global solutions and markets evolve?
Whatever the opportunities and questions ahead, we’re in agreement that personalized medicine is not to be swept aside: it is a business opportunity and there is a real need to deliver optimal treatments for patients, and benefit stakeholders across the value chain.
We are grateful to our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 14 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Personalized Medicine, Biomarkers, Invitro Diagnostics: The Science Advances, The Business Opportunities, The Cultural Dilemmas:
Facilitator Audrey S. Erbes, Ph.D., Principal, Erbes & Associates
Panelist Michael Bates, M.D., Vice President, Oncology Research and Development at Cepheid
Panelist Dean Schorno, Chief Financial Officer, Genomic Health
Presenting Entrepreneur Giacomo Vacca, Ph.D., Founder & CEO, Kinetic River
Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts.


Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox

November 14, 2011

FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox: Learn to play with people who don’t act right (like you). Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and experiences on our panel, representing women from different educational and cultural backgrounds, from different departments, with different experiences and skills. But they had many things in common:
• They constantly strive to learn and improve and make things better for themselves and for those around them.
• They keep raising the bar for themselves, electing to feel uncomfortable rather than settling and being complacent.
• They are succeeding in ways big and small in their personal and professional lives.
• They are constantly giving back, engaging others in their networks and creating bigger, broader infrastructure, supporting the success of more women and men.
• They do not shrink from daunting and intimidating tasks, but always rise up and find a way to create a bigger plan, a collaborative success, and particularly gravitating to challenging tasks and groups.
With the qualities above (note how they are all inter-related and feed upon themselves), it is no wonder that our panelists are so successful, and poised for further success. Our panelists started by commenting on why they thought expanding their sandbox, being open to working with people who did not think and act like you do, was beneficial to themselves personally and to their organizations. They mentioned factors such as:
• Diversity within an organization will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship.
o Seeing something or someone from another point of view will open you up to new experiences and new thoughts which may not have occurred to you before.
• Embracing the viewpoints of others will help distribute the successes, the challenges, the recognition. True leaders will know how to integrate and embrace these varying perspectives for the good of all.
• As we becoming increasingly more global, embracing the viewpoints of others will help us better serve our markets, our partners, our staff, our customers.
• Those who better embrace the varying perspectives of others have a more tolerant, more positive, more constructive outlook on life, which serves them personally and professionally.
• They will also have a larger network to rely on and collaborate with!
Below is some advice they have for those of us interested in expanding our sandbox.
• Be strategic about who you are, clear on what your brand stands for, which must be in alignment with your personal core values. You must first know your strengths and weaknesses, your goals and objectives in order to do so.
• Build a support system and network, including key mentors, who can help you think through and get to where you want to go.
• Leverage social media to spread your message, but manage it carefully to ensure the integrity and consistency of the message.
• Dare to show up, to take a leap of faith, especially when you’re feeling uncomfortable. Showing courage despite the fear is the only way to follow your dreams.
• Find a learning in every uncomfortable situation. Leverage your networks to get the support you need to better ensure learnings and better position yourself for success.
• Know what you’re doing and add measurable value along the way, while you’re connecting people from different backgrounds and mindsets to the cause. Essential to this is the ability to communicate that value, and engage strategic others to also engage, to best serve common interests.
• Make all parties look good and feel like they’ve created a bigger whole together.
• Speak the language of your diverse stakeholders, and know what motivates them before you speak with them.
• Learn from your life experiences as much as your planned career path and challenges.
• When you are feeling uncomfortable working with people who don’t think and act like you, manage your emotional response and bubble up to think through what are you trying to accomplish, what is motivated all the key stakeholders, and how can you work together for a collaborative win.
• The more impossible things you accomplish, the hungrier you become for more challenges, and the more likely your management team will provide them for you. Even if you fail, learn from it, and see it as a necessary stepping stone to success.
The bottom line is to find something you really enjoy doing, and then focus on delivering value to the customer and on how you can work with a diverse team to deliver just that.
We would like to thank our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox: Learn to play with people who don’t act right (like you):
Facilitator Rossella Derickson, Performance and Culture Strategist, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Panelist Sabina Burns, Sr. Director Corporate Marketing, Synopsys
Panelist Gina Diaz, Director, License Management Services (LMS) Group, Oracle
Panelist Monali Jain, Head of Engineering at PayPal, eBay
Panelist Natascha Thomson, Sr. Director, Social Media Audience Marketing, SAP AG
Please join us also in thanking our hosts at Synopsys.

Next Generation Solar Solutions

November 8, 2011

FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Next Generation Solar Solutions, featuring:
Facilitator Shirin Cooper, Business Development, Sylvatex
Panelist Sean Garner, Manager, Energy Systems Group, PARC
Presenting Entrepreneurs Vikas Desai, CEO, EchoFirst Inc
Presenting Entrepreneur Jason Lu, Founder and CEO, EnFocus Engineering
Presenting Entrepreneur Alain Poivet, Founder and CEO, SunPlanter
Please join us in thanking our hosts at PARC and our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives on the panel: entrepreneurs from Asia, Europe and India, technology innovations in microinverters, integrated power and lighting, customized and integrated solar solutions with web-based user interface, and solar plant managers. Together, they have spent decades in the clean energy space, watching the ups and downs and have remarked on the following trends:
• Partly due to the manufacturing and process innovations introduced by China, (and neglecting the environmental impact of these changes) solar panels have become largely a commodity, impacting the industry overall.
• Led by Germany’s embracing of the solar market potential through subsidies, many European countries followed and enjoyed leadership in adoption and market, but financially-imposed policy changes in most European countries other than Germany makes it now difficult for both innovators and customers in Europe. Hence, people are looking more closely at markets in Asia and Latin America.
• The US with its huge market, technology innovations, entrepreneurial culture and great weather has the potential to be a leader in this space. However, local, state and federal policy hurdles, infrastructure challenges, lack of cooperation and coordination between major stakeholders, funding challenges, local government bureaucrats and policies are making it difficult for entrepreneurs to succeed.
Our panelists recommended the following opportunities ahead:
• Develop integrated solutions, leveraging existing and hybrid technology – for example, integrating power generation and lighting, or leveraging microinverters , or a racking system that saves installation time.
• Create cost-effective technologies that will provide an attractive ROI of 2-4 years, without subsidy.
• Develop solutions which can be easily integrated into existing buildings, infrastructure etc. For example, if a solar panel could replace a sunroof, it would be much easier to sell the value proposition.
• Find a way to use all the energy from the sun, leveraging mirrors or other technologies. Currently, there is a lot of wasted energy through heat.
• Develop manufacturing process improvements – perhaps something that doesn’t require the dicing of wafers, leveraging exfoliation techniques, perhaps something that requires less materials or is less labor intensive.
• Leverage sensors and software to provide details about solar energy usage.
Below is advice from our panelists for entrepreneurs in this space:
• Work with other stakeholders to minimize policy/reimbursement and pricing and installation uncertainties.
• We live in a global world, and markets will be global. Have a clear strategy on which markets are hottest now, the easiest to navigate, and prioritize your target markets accordingly.
• Focus less on the technology innovations and think deeply about the technology integration opportunities and the business model innovations.
• The market is still young and the opportunities are huge. Don’t let the recent failures in the market discourage you from exploring the opportunities in the space.
• Despite the hype, there are fewer subsidies for solar than there are for other emerging clean energy options including nuclear. And established businesses such as coal and gas have the largest subsidies of all.! So it will take leadership to forge change and encourage policies, people and markets to embrace more sustainable energy solutions.
• Create a solution leveraging and integrating proven technologies which is not capital intensive, and shows quick wins.
• Collaborate with all stakeholders to support the advancement of the industry overall, not just in the US, but all the global markets.
• Look closely at the opportunities in the retail market. What will generate a clear and quick ROI and be painless to install and implement?
• Scaling your solar business leveraging channels and social networks, partnerships and relationships, without compromising the brand experience.
• Start off in niche markets delivering quality solutions and strategically expand from there.
• Make your solutions more affordable and less dependent on spikes of energy you might get from natural sunlight.
• Propose a way for surplus energy production to be sold back to the grid.
In the end, it is the resilient, entrepreneurial leader who will succeed and lead their company, and bring the industry to the next level, so don’t focus on the (policy, infrastructure, funding, image and other) challenges but do focus on the opportunities ahead.