Investing in your brain and body health

High tech investment is ‘cool’ – let’s make it easier to transfer money across the world, do your accounts, or send videos of cats, maybe even all in one app! Investing in stuff that makes life better or longer for elderly people, helps to manage anxiety disorders, or recovery from a heart attack, is so not cool.

The real difference though, between helping people to do something new in the digital world, or something old in a more efficient way, and life sciences research, is that there is a natural market for the product. Twitter has never made a dime in profit. The market for many of the products produced by Stoic Venture Capital’s investees is only going to grow as humans live longer. That means investing to fund life sciences research doesn’t just do good, it makes a return.

The founders of Stoic Venture Capital, Guy Hedley and Geoff Waring, and Fund II partner Craig Swanger, see investment in university-sourced intellectual-property intense businesses as a way to make outsized risk adjusted returns. The biggest risk is that investing in science is hard. The gestation is highly uncertain, and the regulatory proof period for any medical product, drug or device, is lengthy – as it should be.

Stoic investees are changing people’s lives, in some cases this is research that is producing treatments for conditions that were previously untreated, in others they are developing better ways to solve problems, such as treatments that are less invasive or have fewer side effects.

The Stoic VC portfolio has evolved to fall into two natural buckets where they have specialist experience in analysing the potential of a research-heavy start-up – brain and body health.

In brain health there is a spectrum of research that is developing drug and device- related products to manage conditions and disorders that have a severe impact on a person’s life outcomes and wellbeing at all ages. These include products being developed by Stoic investee, whilst currently undisclosed, treat a spectri, of Psychiatric disorders non-invasively. Work by Kinoxis could have a huge range of uses from treatment of autism, PTSD, and depressive disorders, to anxiety and social anxiety, opioid withdrawal, and aggressive dementia.

The body health category is broad. For instance, Stoic investee ENA Respiratory has just received a US$3.8mn contract extension with the United States department of Defense to fund its Phase 2b study for an anti-viral nasal spray. Meanwhile, Certa Theraputics has seen ground-breaking clinical trial results for its treatment of serious inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. There are also a range of investees with business ideas in treatment, detection or management of cancer, heart health, diabetes, and eye conditions such as macular degeneration.

Stoic now has significant experience in this investment space and understands how these kinds of start-ups work. This includes how to assess them at inception, recognising the pattern of evolution to revenue or other form of off-take (such as big pharma buy out), and understanding key points where founders need non-financial help including business mentoring. That knowledge, and the breadth and depth of the portfolio, means Stoic can have more patience than the average investor, and reward its investors with long term returns.