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Q&A with Sarah Haywood: Future of Healthcare Investor Forum

Sarah Haywood is former CEO of MedCity, and now sits on our Board as a Director. With her expertise in business innovation and investment we’re delighted that Sarah continues to work actively with us, supporting our work in investment. We spoke to Sarah about the MedCity-London Stock Exchange partnership which she established as MedCity CEO and continues to support, and plans for the partnership’s Future of Healthcare Investor Forum.

Q. Can you tell us a little about the history of MedCity’s partnership with the London Stock Exchange?

A. We first met with the London Stock Exchange in 2014, not long after MedCity launched, so it has been an important relationship, really, since MedCity’s inception.

Right from the start, MedCity had a focus on investment, because flow of investment is absolutely critical for the growth and success of life sciences companies. One of the first things we did was set up the Angel investment programme (now called the MedCity Investment Hub). That supports companies at the early stages of the funding continuum, but the public markets are also a really important part of providing growth capital into more established companies looking to raise capital.

The London Stock Exchange clearly has an interest in encouraging a healthy public market, so there was a real meeting of minds there, with both of us intent on encouraging investment into life sciences through the public markets.

Q. So, what came out of the partnership?

A. We had the idea of having a one-day conference – the Future of Healthcare Investor Forum – and we co-hosted the first conference at the London Stock Exchange in 2015. From 2015 to 2019 we held the conference every year, with the objective being to engage with, inform and excite investors about the opportunities to invest in life sciences. We’d invite around 100 decision-makers from public market and institutional investors and were very keen to not only attract specialist investors, but also institutional and generalist investors.

Early on in the partnership we also brought in a number of other organisations to work with us on the conference and we’re lucky to have maintained a fairly consistent team throughout. The team includes JP Morgan, Numis, Concilium Communications and the BioIndustry Association (BIA). That team of partners and sponsors has been really crucial to us over the years, because each of them brings deep experience of taking companies to public markets and supporting their fundraising.

Q. You said the last conference was held in 2019…?

A. Yes, unfortunately in common with many others in 2020, we had to shelve our planned event for last year, due to the pandemic. We’re now excited to be back working on our 2021 event, which will be held in October and will likely be a blended event, featuring online elements and (we hope) in-person elements also.

Having missed 2020, there’s a really strong commitment across the team to bring this event back and to have an opportunity to engage with this really important group of investors.

Q. What more can you tell us about this year’s conference?

A. It will be held on 12 October and will feature our usual mix of keynote speakers and panel sessions to discuss issues. I can’t confirm speakers yet, but in the past our keynote speakers have included a mix of senior politicians and leaders in the industry. These have included Matt Hancock, Maria Dahl from Astra Zeneca, Robert Jenrick and Professor Sir Robert Lechler to name a few.

As always, we’ll look at emerging trends in life sciences. We’ll be discussing AI and data, and its impact on discovery, clinical development and healthcare. We’ll also be looking at disruptive innovations, such as robotics, sequencing, wearables and point-of-care diagnostics, and how they will impact on investments. And obviously, we’ll be looking at the post-COVID world, and what the opportunities for investment are likely to be.

Q. And what is the funding landscape looking like at the moment?

A. In Spring 2020 everyone was very concerned about how investment decisions would be impacted by the pandemic. There have been some changes in investor behaviour (in particular early-stage seed funding has been challenging for some), but the most recent data reported by the BIA shows that 2020 was actually, overall, the strongest year for life sciences fundraising. This includes both private investments and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), across the UK and Europe.

I think that’s reflective of how the pandemic has really shone a spotlight on the importance of life sciences to us all, but also the scale of the business opportunities for investors. We’ve seen growth in diagnostics, digital technologies to support remote management of patients, as well as vaccines of course.

With this year’s conference, we really want to capitalise on that opportunity and excitement. We’re reiterating how important life sciences is to our lives and to the economy, and that it requires the support and backing of investors to flourish.

Find out more

The Future of Healthcare Investor Forum will be held on 12 October 2021. Find out more about how MedCity supports investment into life sciences here.

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