Tuesday, January 22, 2002

*PC: Political Cocktails

Endless explorations and ethics One of the most interesting areas of scientific and technical development is also the most controversial. Mention "stem cell" and you're just as likely to offend someone or pique their interest. Never one to shy away from controversy, despite how nerve-wracking it can be, Swedish Consul General Olle Wastberg hosted an investment seminar on stem cell research on January 22nd at his residence in New York. He admits he "was a bit scared in advance" when planning this panel, which is easily understood--after all, just coordinating the speakers could be a potential landmine. However, it worked out just fine. Like most attendees I spoke with afterwards, Olle too felt the discussions were dynamic and demonstrated the potential for this area to be "very big." Of course, you can't invest very much in this area as an investor or hedge fund yet since it's in such early stages of development. But all the panelists thought that in a couple of years this field has lots of potential. Investors exploring--exploiting--this area by leaning about it now are setting themselves up to be in a very good position in a few years. Co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Sweden and Invest in Sweden Agency with guest sponsors Weatherly Securities and the DuHaan Groupe, Inc., the panel brought together noted experts from a variety of areas. Moderated by Business Week's Gene Marcial, MedicaFund general partner Dr. Yuval Binur, OvaCell Professor Magnus Westgren, Neuronova AB CEO Dr. Anders Haegerstrand, Pharmacia's Fredrik Henell and a representative from Incara Pharmaceuticals discussed the possibilities of true development. They have the tools to do this, but it is a long time before anything will truly happen. After the two and a half hour conversation to a packed room of about 50 professionals, I chatted with some attendees while wines and hors d'oeuvres were being passed around. Speakers Anders Haegerstrand and Fredrik Henell were chatting with attendees Karolinska Innovations AV Business Development director Thomas Andersson and Endpoint Merchant Group Inc. special limited partner Robert H. Silin. Spenser Trask Ventures, Inc. managing director Institutional Private Equity Group Hugh Cullman, Elastic Agency's Magnus Gink and I chatted about how it seems as if someone could come up with the delivery system for all this research and development--that's where the money would be. Global Emerging Technologies president David West Smith told me about his recent skiing trip out west and Wall Street Newswire's Leif Bergstrom, Pillsbury Winthrop patent attorney Steve Moore and others mingled and mused about the possibilities and discussions. For more information: www.swedeninfo.com/biotechstemcells/