Every year, student entrepreneurs at the University of Southern California, Zachary Dell’s alma mater, have an opportunity to showcase their startup and business ideas. This year, the 14th Annual USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase was held on Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ten finalist teams competed for over $30,000 in cash prizes and other valuable awards. There were six winning teams and two of them, WaterShield and DYME, were awarded cash prizes of over $10,000.
WaterShield has conceptualized a unique medical device for cancer patients that provides a central venous catheter with a moisture barrier, increasing comfort and decreasing the chance of infection when patients shower. The team, led by second-year biomedical engineering Ph.D. student Farbod Amirghasemi, earned the $10,000 USC Stevens Transformational Innovation Award at the conference held at USC, where Zach Dell attended college. WaterShield also won the in-kind Pillsbury Mentorship Award, valuing at over $15,000, and offering strategic counseling and patent services.
The Best Business Concept Award is a $10,000 prize and was presented to DYME, a startup created by George Pappas, a recent graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business. DYME is a platform where college athletes can monetize their media through experiential media content for paying sports fans. Additional cash prizes and in-kind awards were given to four other teams at the special annual event at University of Southern California, Zachary Dell’s alma mater.
Use technology to maintain contact with clients. Video platforms should be utilized as much as possible to offer a face-to-face personal interaction. While working remotely may mean that things are a bit more casual, it is important to keep things professional.
The need to maintain decorum and professionalism notwithstanding, it is also important to be genuine with clients. They want to know that their money is in good hands, but they also want to have a sincere conversation about life. Start and end every conversation with a client by discussing their wellbeing. Ask how they are managing and feeling. Give them the assurance they need. Show them that you care about their physical, mental, and financial health.
When things are uncertain it is tempting to switch to preservation mode. We have a fiduciary responsibility to do our best for those who are already clients; we may not have the bandwidth to grow our business. But as we focus on the clients we have, we should also maintain business contacts and relationships that can help our business in the future. Look for opportunities in various sectors and actively pursue leads.
Clients are worried about a lot of things right now. It is the job of financial planners and economic advisors to ensure that money is not an additional concern. The current health concerns coupled with economic uncertainties present people with two extremely basic fears: being alone and broke. Now is not the time to overwhelm clients with statistics and trends. Listen closely to what the clients are saying and what they feel most comfortable with at this time. This is unchartered territory for everyone. Every individual, business owner, team leader, and industry specialist is figuring out how to navigate these uncertain times. In the money management field, being attentive, genuine, forthcoming, and caring is the best business practice right now.
Novartis has agreed to pay $85 per share for The Medicines Company, which developed a new drug to fight against high cholesterol levels in people. The $9.7 billion cash deal acquiring the US drug maker is a bet that Inclisiran, is a “potentially transformational medicine.” There are millions of patients all over the world whose risk of cardiovascular disease is increased because of high levels of cholesterol in their blood.
“We believe that Inclisiran could contribute significantly to improved patient outcomes and help healthcare systems address the leading global cause of death,” Novartis chief executive Vas Narsimhan said.
Swiss-based Novartis has a market value of $203 billion. It has been growing recently in a similar way to many other big pharma companies, via disposals and takeovers.
The Medicines Company presented the results of a successful trial of Inclisiran, which lowers cholesterol in a unique way. Through the use of injections administered every few months, the drug lowers the production of “bad cholesterol” by inhibiting a protein that controls its production. This gene-silencing method of therapy is known as RNA interference, and although it has been around for decades, drugs using this methodology of treatment have been improving in recent years.
In a recent edition of IP Pro Life Science Tammy Facey interviewed Professor Shlomo Ben-Haim of the Hobart Group to find out how he became such a successful entrepreneur. Entitled “Invent, Protect and Keep Going,” the article offers insights about the path that an entrepreneur might take and the skills needed to succeed in the business world.
When asked why he decided to become an entrepreneur, Shlomo Ben Haim responded that he never decided, per se, to become an inventor. Rather, he had a drive to make things better and he has always wanted to develop tools to help himself and his peers to improve how they treat patients.
Professor Ben Haim was asked what role patents and IP have played in the development of his companies and inventions. In response, Ben Haim said, “Intellectual property has always played a crucial role in the success of companies I co-founded. I consider IP an asset to advance my companies’ business goals. It is the heart of any licensing and mergers and acquisitions transaction, especially in the life science filed, which requires high investments.”
Asked specifically about cardiology and why it demands so much innovation, Professor Ben-Haim explained that this space demands innovation since they are dealing with the human body that no one fully understands. As he said, “The more we learn, the more new ideas are created on how to treat it.”
Certainly, anyone interested in becoming a prolific inventor like Professor Shlomo Ben Haim would appreciate advice. When asked how a new inventor could get his invention to be a success, he offered a number of suggestions. He said that people need to make sure there is a need for their invention in the market. If there is, the inventor should then protect the invention and use the resources available today. He explained that these include “technology transfer companies, online professional networks and expert advisers” to bring the idea to reality. He suggested that the inventor network in the relevant areas and he emphasized that the inventor should not discount his own perspectives.
Dublin-based Shire announced its all-cash purchase of privately held Foresight Biotherapeutics, expanding the pharmaceutical company’s ability to develop medicine against viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis.
UK-listed Shire has been increasing its investment in eyecare while also pushing for approval from regulators for its own treatment for dry-eye disease, lifitegrast.
“Ophthalmics is a highly attractive growth area for Shire and this acquisition allows us to strengthen our presence,” said Flemming Ornskov, Shire chief executive.
Foresight’s drug, known as FST-100 is a perfect companion medicine to lifitegrast for a pharmaceutical company. If both obtain approval for use then together they will “address two of the leading reasons people seek eyecare treatment,” Mr Ornskov said.
Last year Shire created a dedicated opthalmics division, separate from its main business selling treatments for rare diseases and attention deficit Hyperactivity disorder.
Shire purchased Foresight for $300 million as it’s stock is trading at near-record prices of £57.30, considerably more than the £52.48 per share that AbbVie of the US tried to pay last year in its takeover bid, which eventually fell through.