Why Biotech Is Cultivating a Hotbed of Entrepreneurs Right Now

07/18/2017 06:59 pm ET

We all have some preconceived ideas about the nature of entrepreneurialism. But, according to business master himself, Tony Robbins, starting a company or two does not an entrepreneur make. Financial savvy and business acumen may be enough to get a startup off the ground. But it takes a true entrepreneur to see beyond the creation of a project, propel past the daily managerial duties and take the all-important risks to achieve greatness.

True entrepreneurs have an in-built necessity to change the world for the better and leave their impact on it. And what better area to do that in than biotech? The total global biotech market is valued at almost $415 billion in 2017. Biotech is not only a thriving industry with a wealth of possibilities; it allows daring entrepreneurs to leave their stamp on world problems. Helping improve surgery, develop cures, or vaccinate against deadly diseases.

According to Fortune, more and more startups in the healthcare and biotech industry are beginning to make their mark. The reasons for this are various. There is generally low competition thanks to the high specialty needed. On top of that, your typical biotech startup raises low seed capital, tends to have reduced overheads, and works on a skeleton crew while bringing their vision to creation. Once they secure FDA approval, that’s a whole new (potentially multimillion-dollar) ball gall.

Biotech Startups Making Vaccines Safer

You have to admit, getting cheaper transport on-demand and authentic accommodation in the heart of a capital city is pretty cool. But what about wiping out infectious diseases, fighting cancer, or making vaccines natural and safe? That’s exactly what early-stage startup VBI Vaccines (Nasdaq: VBIV) is aiming to do. So far, they’ve developed a proprietary technology that will lead to a vaccination against the Zika virus, and had their new vaccine against Hepatitis B, Sci-B-Vac, approved in 15 countries.

You may have thought that Hepatitis B no longer presented a problem today, but even in major developed regions, like North America and Europe, it can be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that some 250 million people worldwide suffer from chronic Hep B and are contagious. As the refugee crisis deepens in Europe, healthcare workers are particularly at risk from unvaccinated immigrants, as they come into contact with this blood-borne disease.

What’s different about the VBI vaccine from a regular market one? The technology uses lipid bilayers, a completely natural, organic membrane, that affix the necessary antigens to the particles needed to build immunity in our bodies. Without using potentially harmful chemicals or injecting a small dosage of the disease in our bodies.

Sci-B-Vac is currently under FDA review in the United States, and President and CEO of VBI Vaccines, Jeff Baxter, says that discussions were positive, as well as those with the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada. “We're able to announce our plans for global Phase 3 clinical program, which upon successful completion, will allow us to seek approval and multi-neutralization in the U.S., Europe and Canada.” And make a pretty healthy sum upon completion.

Biotechs Fighting Cancer

Biotech startups are stepping up to the plate in the fight against cancer and other deadly diseases as well, like red cell development company, Rubius Therapeutics. Owned and funded by Flagship VentureLabs, their technology to create what they call Red-Cell Therapeutics™ (RCTs™) is a new class of medicine that can attack cancer and rare and autoimmune diseases. They are also researching breakthroughs in the fields of infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, and hemophilia.

This three years-young company’s red cells contain therapeutic proteins that work in treating serious diseases, and the groundbreaking biotech startup launched in 2014 has already generated over 200 prototypes. On top of that, Rubius was able to raise $120 million in funding in June of this year, which will serve to help prepare for human clinical trials in 2018, taking the Cambridge-based company from strength to strength.

Biotechs Are Even Slowing Down the Aging Process

Unity Biotechnology is continually proving that there’s plenty of money to be made in the anti-aging industry. In fact, according to some reports, the global anti-aging industry will reach as much as $261.52 billion by 2021. This is clearly a burgeoning area for ambitious entrepreneurs to set their sights on. Unity Biotechnology is a Silicon Valley based drugmaker with a focus on producing treatments not to slow down the aging process exactly, but to keep people looking and feeling healthier as they age.

With several famous backers, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Unity achieved a whopping $116 million from investors so far. So, can this hotshot biotech startup produce the elixir of life? Not yet. But it could be in the works, with their goal firmly focused on designing therapeutics that “prevent, halt, or reverse diseases of aging.” Now, what graying boomer wouldn’t want a slice of that pie?

Investopedia rather aptly sums up biotech as one of the “strangest” and “sexiest” industries to be in, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that it's creating a hotbed of entrepreneurs right now. It’s also attracting top-tier VCs seeking high risk/high reward payoff. So, for the true entrepreneurs that meet the expectations of Tony Robbins, biotech is beckoning. The teaming up of studious scientists with entrepreneurial brilliance can only mean more great things to come.

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