Brent Hoberman: ‘This is longevity’s moment’

Founders Forum chairman says a combination of proven science, access to data, and advances in AI mean the time is right for investment in longevity.  

In just a few weeks’ time, the inaugural Founders Longevity Forum will take place at London Tech Week, bringing the investment and longevity communities together in an event designed to “supercharge” innovation in the field. 

There’s still time to register your interest in what promises to be a groundbreaking event in the longevity calendar. In addition to speeches, discussion and debate from top longevity thought leaders, participants will hear pitches from some of the sector’s most fascinating startups, while checking out the latest offerings from exhibitors in the Longevity Village

Longevity.Technology: When an organization like Founders Forum Group starts getting involved in longevity, you know that the field is moving in the right direction. Since hosting its first event in London in 2005, the entrepreneurial powerhouse has gone on to host more than 40 forums in more than 20 cities worldwide. But what made Founders Forum decide that the time was right for a longevity-specific event series? To find out, we caught up with its co-founder and exec chair, Brent Hoberman. 

Having backed a staggering nine unicorns at seed stage, Hoberman is clearly someone with their finger on the pulse of what’s hot when it comes to investment. In recent years, he noticed that the word “longevity” was being mentioned with increasing frequency in investor circles around the world. 

Founders Forum chairman Brent Hoberman previously co-founded lastminute.com and Made.com.

“We’ve been running events for top entrepreneurs for 19 years now, and recently we’ve been seeing more and more interest in the longevity area,” says Hoberman, who says that longevity’s mix of “science, capital and entrepreneurs” is exactly what the group looks for. 

“This is what energizes us and also what energizes the community,” he adds. “But I also feel there is still a gap. There are many other great longevity events, but few are focused on that collision between the capital and the entrepreneurs and the scientists. That’s why we wanted to put on an event bringing together the world’s best longevity founders and scientists, with people with capital who are interested in investing in the space.”

Collision of AI and data

According to Hoberman, the attractiveness of the longevity sector to investors has been significantly enhanced by the growth in evidence supporting the field, which is now much more robust than it was 10 years ago. 

“The science is at a point now where it can be much more proven, and there’s much less snake oil,” he says. “There’s also been this collision of being able to capture and analyze huge amounts of data using technologies like artificial intelligence, which means we now can make more sense of longevity and solutions to improve it. That’s why I think this is longevity’s moment.”

Having run so many events over the years, Hoberman believes that Founders Forum can help bring some much-needed acceleration to the commercialization of longevity. 

“Very often at our events, game-changing pivotal connections are made that either change the course of a company, or accelerate its progress by many years,” he says. “So that’s what we really want – to accelerate the journey of the longevity entrepreneurs who are able to attend this event, and introduce them to the capital, the scientists and the fellow entrepreneurs who can help them on their journey.”

Longevity awaits ‘ChatGPT moment’

Like many of us, Hoberman is excited by the prospect that future developments in longevity biotech hold for humanity, but his interest as an investor is in the more immediate opportunities in the field.

“We are more in that point of intersection where technology meets longevity medicine today,” he says. “For example, one of the areas which we’re exploring in great depth now is longevity clinics, which are initially targeted at the very high end, but where we would also expect to start seeing solutions that are applicable at much lower prices to many more people.” 

While longevity may be starting to catch investor attention, the sector still has some way to go before it hits the heady heights of AI, for example, and Hoberman says the sector’s “ChatGPT-moment” has still to come. 

“People like Bryan Johnson have certainly put longevity on the consumer map – the populist version of longevity, if you like,” he says. “But now it’s about getting better clarity, better data, showing that there are solutions that are really working. I think it’s also the personalized aspect of longevity. This isn’t going to be a one solution fits all, so how can we bring the cost down to make personalized solutions work on a large scale?”

Data will drive personalized longevity

The personalization aspect of longevity presents some challenges, but Hoberman feels encouraged by work already going on in the sector to address the issue. 

“We’re hoping to help pull some of the threads together on this,” he says. “Data platforms are going to be important – there are about three or four we’ve looked at that are aggregating all the data, but they’re still early.”

In “a year or two”, Hoberman hopes that the work currently being conducted on data platforms will help make personalized longevity a reality.  

“People need to have access to data to see what’s working for them and what isn’t, and what sacrifices they should be making or not,” he says. “You want to be able to log on every day and really see the impact you’re having. For example, if intermittent fasting is meant to keep your telomeres longer, is it doing that, and can we measure it more cost effectively? I think it’s starting to happen.”

Watch this space: Founders Forum is doubling down on longevity with this event series and, Hoberman promises, there is more to come.