Longevity leaders weigh in on investment downturn

Report reveals Q1 longevity investment is in line with bearish climate, but founders and investors remain optimistic.

Longevity.Technology’s Q1 2023 Longevity Investment Report published today, providing an overview of longevity investment in the first three months of the year. The report looks at deals by stage, location and average size, identifies the top 5 deals, reviews M&A and partnerships, discusses longevity’s 10-year trend, and highlights some of the quarter’s biggest stories.

Q1 2023 Report

As to be expected, the longevity sector is tracking global investment trends. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride recently as the global macroeconomic environment hit shaky ground in the last year. Venture capital investment across the world has seen a major dip, not helped by the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse. The impact has been particularly apparent across the biotech industry, which has seen investment plummet following the all-time highs of 2021.

Compared with the previous four quarters, our report found that Q1 of 2023 saw the lowest financing activity among longevity companies, also marked by the fewest number of deals (10). The total financing for longevity in Q1 this year is one of the lowest since 2013, but, while the environment for new startups will clearly be tough for some time, the experts believe the question is not if the investment activity will recover, but rather when.

Kristen Fortney, CEO and co-founder of BioAge, told us that over the long term, she’s bullish on biotech in general and longevity in particular.

“The patterns in longevity investment in 2023 reflect broader trends in the market, and certainly biotech has seen – and recovered from – fluctuations like this before,” she told us. “Diseases of aging represent a vast unmet medical need, and innovations based on longevity science are unlocking new therapeutic approaches to serve this huge market.”

Jim Mellon, investor and deputy chairman of Juvenescence agrees that the interest in the sector is clear. “It is frustrating that investment flows into longevity science have stalled in the past year, but I am sure this is a temporary phenomenon,” he told us. “At Juvenescence, we have never had so much interest in what we are doing.”

While it may be down, longevity certainly isn’t out. The need for new and innovative therapies and technologies is unlikely to see a deceleration any time soon. For the longevity sector in particular, the rising pressure of an aging population and the demographic revolution that will follow, will continue to drive the demand for innovation.

Sergey Young, founding partner of Longevity Vision Fund takes a philosophical view, opining that longevity is a long-term trend that will pass through many economic cycles.

“Nevertheless, this environment leads to а more selective approach by investors as well as startups,” he says. “Companies have to prioritize their best and most promising pipeline programs (in other words, reducing their shots on goal). While some of the companies will likely not survive, those that have strong scientific and clinical milestones, supported by investors, will get through this with sufficient cash runway until their value inflection points. This is obviously a challenging time, but in the end, it should make the longevity sector stronger.”

Survival of the fittest in longevity applies in more ways than one, it would seem.

Michael Greve, CEO and founder of the Forever Healthy Foundation, told us that he believes the longevity VC market will decouple from the currently pressured classical VC financial markets as soon as the first therapeutic rejuvenation approaches have been proven to work.

“Then it will become obvious that, beyond classical medical approaches that are geared towards curing a disease, it is possible to target the entire western world with preventive therapies against age-related diseases,” he said.

Petr Sramek, co-founder and managing partner of LongevityTech.fund, told us that while LTF is raising its second fund, is not actively deploying capital yet.

“The problem is rooted all over the money chain,” he explained. “Most LPs have frozen their activity to wait and see what will happen on the global market. But we start seeing recovery signals from realizing that startup valuations bottomed out. I expect an upsurge in the third Q this year.”

Also optimistic is Sergey Jakimov, founding partner of LongeVC, who told us that proven scientific and technological advancements will prevail in securing vital funding for the longevity industry.

“While changing economic conditions may present challenges for longevity startups of all stages, the significance of reliable data and background cannot be overstated,” he said. “Right now, investment bodies are pursuing data-driven decision-making and thorough due diligence, moving past the inflated valuations of two years ago. Sound business and scientific proof will always guide the market’s success.”

Q1 2023 Report