A year in longevity: investment perspectives

New funds, switching focus to longevity, Silicon Valley blue-bloods and preparing for IPO.

Over the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some of Longevity’s key investors and have been delighted to see new funds opening-up and others turning their focus to Longevity.

“There are a maximum of 10 funds focused on Longevity,” Jim Mellon told us back in 2019. “There’ll be 50-70 in the next few years and in 10 years’ time there’ll be thousands. The Longevity investment market is like the cannabis market – it will grow very quickly, but it will be much bigger.”

2021 will see the formation of more funds and increased Longevity investment activity, but before we stride confidently into the new year, let’s take a look in the rearview mirror:

Increased activity from Silicon Valley investors

Rubedo Life Sciences closes $12m seed round for proprietary drug discovery platform that targets senolytics.
Image credit: Julian Prizont-Cado / Shutterstock.com

Wearables, their associated apps, and the AI that drives them are on the frontline of Longevity; these platforms are set for huge growth (expected to reach $37.67bn by 2025) ahead of the inevitable consolidation and acquisitions. The race is on. In November Levels announced that it has raised $12m from Andreessen Horowitz, among others, to bring its biowearable to market.

Andreessen Horowitz also co-led the December investment round for Longevity biotech firm BioAge Labs which is readying itself for clinical trials after raising a whopping $90 million Series C funding round.

Also in December, Silicon Valley’s Rubedo Life Sciences closed a $12m seed round for its proprietary drug discovery platform that targets senolytics, an area of Longevity science that is going to continue to attract investor interest.

An IPO to raise Longevity’s profile

The aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats" could soon apply to Longevity as Juvenescence's public debut might be less than a year away
Juvenescence CEO Greg Bailey

The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” could soon apply to Longevity, as Juvenescence’s public debut might happen in 2021. When we spoke to Juvenescence CEO Greg Bailey earlier this year, he floated the idea that the bio-pharma development company was considering going public. So we weren’t surprised when CNBC reported that Juvenescence Chairman Jim Mellon had told them he is planning to take the company public “in the next six to 12 months [1].”

Juvenescence has raised over $162 million in funding over four rounds and is going out to raise $150m in its C round, which hopefully, according to Bailey, will be a prelude to an IPO. Back in October he told us: “We want to be thoughtful when considering the right path for funding our growth at Juvenescence but clearly, given the strength of the biotech investment market and the strong value proposition of our company, going public is a very serious option.”

Human Longevity and the Final Frontier

SP8CEVC, the world’s first rolling Space and Longevity fund, is gearing up to make its first investments in 2021.
Images credit Stefan Keller / Pixabay

World’s first Space and Longevity VC fund prepares for launch: a new rolling investment fund is gearing up to make its first Longevity investments in 2021. Uniting the space race and the race for human Longevity, New York-based SP8CEVC is the world’s first rolling fund in partnership with AngelList to focus on space infrastructure and Longevity ventures. And this combination is not as random as it may sound. SP8CEVC’s co-founder and Longevity Lead, Junaid Mian, told us:

“Space is going to create goods, services, and jobs that will change humanity and our planet for the better. However, it’s going to take time to build out this infrastructure. And not only that, as people start to go up to work instead of across to work, space rapidly ages people, and we need to find a way to mitigate that. So we also need to increase healthy human lifespan.”

New Longevity-focused funds

We speak to the co-founder of LongeVC – a firm focused exclusively on longevity investment with a $35 million early stage fund.
The LongeVC team

In November, LongeVC emerged onto the scene with a $35 million early stage investment fund for longevity ventures. Based in Latvia, the firm’s founding partners include Ilya Suharenko, Garri Zmudze, and Sergey Jakimov (L-R in the picture above).

While more investment dollars are flowing into our sector than ever before, there are still relatively few firms focused exclusively on Longevity. LongeVC co-founder Sergey Jakimov told us:

“If you look at the VC landscape for longevity, you have a couple of funds that would not be considered to be very big, by biotech standards. This gives you a notion of how fragile and developing the industry for dedicated VC investment into longevity actually is.”

Primetime Partners’ co-founders by Alan Patricof and Abby Miller Levy

So it’s not surprising that new funds might be focusing on nearer-term opportunities. This summer, a new venture capital firm was launched with an exclusive focus on Longevity. Primetime Partners is co-founded by Abby Miller Levy, a wellness executive and founder, and Alan Patricof, one of America’s most well-known investors. The firm is focused on “seed and early-stage investments in products, services, technologies and experiences for the aging.”

“As our longevity is pushing from what used to be 65 to what will soon be 85, there’s a solid 20-25 years of your life where it feels like there’s not a real private sector innovation economy addressing all the opportunities to build new products, services and experiences for older adults,” Levy told us.

Switching focus to Longevity

Forte Ventures partner Louis Rajczi

In July, Longevity agetech company K4Connect announced a $7.7 million finance injection, bringing its Series B VC funding round to a total of $21 million. The new funding round was led by institutional VC firm Forte Ventures. We caught up with Forte partner Louis Rajczi to find out what led his firm to get involved in its first investment in the Longevity sector.

In the context of COVID-19, Rajczi believes companies looking at buying AgeTech and care-related technologies are being impacted in the same ways as most other companies, he told us:

“Crises like these tend to expose weaknesses and faults in the “normal” way of doing business, and force companies to adapt because the old way of doing business is no longer feasible. In some cases, it changes a “nice to have” technology to a “must have” technology, or one that would be considered as part of “next year’s budget” into one that is needed immediately.

Any time there is change, new opportunities arise, and I believe investors will identify where these new opportunities are being created – including in the AgeTech sector.”

Investing in the age of Longevity: the video

The Longevity Week is an initiative of The Longevity Forum. It brings together a diverse set of contributors from the the Longevity field, and we chaired The Investment Panel to investigate Longevity growth and name-check some hot areas for investment, seeing how Longevity-ready institutional investors are and looking forward over the coming year.

On the panel were: Alexandra Sharon Bause, Co-Founder at Apollo Health Ventures; Greg Bailey, Co-founder and the CEO of Juvenescence; Dani Saurymper, Healthcare & Longevity Economy Fund Manager, AXA Investment Managers; and Phil Newman, CEO and founder First Longevity and Editor-in-Chief Longevity.Technology

Oh, and a bit about us!

In October we announced that some key Longevity investors had joined the funding round into our business. Among those participating in this second stage funding for First Longevity were Juvenescence Chairman, Jim Mellon, and Bruce Barclay, a member of the Board of Trustees at the Buck Institute.

Barclay told us. “As the technologies refine, this is increasing both innovation and deal activity in the longevity sector, I’m very glad to support First Longevity with its large and impressive network within the longevity sector, and look forward to supporting them as they help drive growth in the sector.”

“Phil and his team have rapidly created a leading media title focused on longevity and that’s good for everyone in this exciting field,” Mellon commented. “I think they have a unique opportunity to combine editorial skills with investor insights and build a strong business that will bring together growing numbers of longevity investors and entrepreneurs.”

We have big plans for 2021 – thanks for your support and we’ll see you next year!
[1] https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/09/29/billionaire-jim-mellon-plans-to-take-life-extension-start-up-public.html