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Venture capitalists, scientists discuss future

18 July 2010 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

>See original story on SDNN

Thursday, April 2, 2009

About 100 venture capitalists gathered in La Jolla on Thursday to learn about scientific discoveries that could fuel the clean tech, biotech and wireless technology industries of the future.

The venture capitalists, which represent billions of dollars of funds, viewed presentations by leading scientists from the UC San Diego, about innovations that could form the foundations of new companies.

The La Jolla Research and Innovation Summit continues Friday at the Estencia La Jolla Resort and Spa. It is organized by Connect, a networking forum for scientists, entrepreneurs and capitalists in San Diego.

“The goal here is to show the venture capitalists outside of San Diego all of the great research programs that will lead to ideas that they may want to invest in,” said Duane Roth, chief executive officer, Connect. “There’s going to be a lot of innovation that leads to product opportunity.”

Venture capital funding has shrunk in San Diego, but industry leaders are aiming to attract more funding, particularly from outside the region. Last year, venture capital funding in San Diego dropped by nearly half, from $2 billion in 2007 to $1.2 billion in 2008, according to a report published by Connect.

More than 85 percent of the venture capitalists attending this week’s summit are from outside San Diego. About half are from southern California. While venture capital activity has slowed nationwide, due to economic uncertainties, many are still seeking quality deals, said Terry Moore, chairman, The VC Roundtable, an industry group based in San Diego.

“We’re seeing a consolidation in the industry as a whole,” said Moore. He noted that several existing San Diego companies have not been able to raise additional funds, which has “reduced the amount of capital available to us here in the region.”

Existing venture capitalists in San Diego are limited not only by the amount of deals they can do, but also the amount of capital they have access to. “Having access to new investors that have new funds… and have the bandwidth available to spend time investing in our companies – that’s what were looking for,” said Moore.

This week’s summit, which includes 22 scientists, showcases the region’s scientific innovations addressing the nation’s most pressing needs for energy, health care and telecommunications.

Panels on Thursday included presentations by leading scientists in the clean tech and biotechnology fields. In clean tech, scientists explained new ways to develop alternative fuels from nanotechnology, algae, and solar sources. In biotechnology, scientists unveiled advances in neuroscience and immunology that could improve health care.

Panels on Friday cover high-tech innovations in areas including cyber security and wireless technology, as well the convergence of wireless and life science industries.

The summit would likely result in new venture capital investments in San Diego companies, as early as the next several weeks for follow-on financing and the next several months for new investments, said Moore. “Activity will continue to pick up as we go forward this year,” he said.

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

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