SAPA Successfully Held the 6th Healthcare Investment Forum & Roadshow



The 2023 Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA) Healthcare Investment Forum & Roadshow took place on July 8th at Columbia University in New York City. The event promoted entrepreneurship, healthcare investment, and business cooperation with trusted partners. An impressive panel of industry-leading speakers delivered keynote speeches and participated in fireside chats. This event also offered a unique workshop for entrepreneurship and other opportunities to keep vibrant interactions between participants and speakers/panelists. Attendees learned about the latest trends in investment and drug development as they networked with leading investors and fellow life science professionals.



The Morning Session


The morning session began with the opening remarks delivered by Yongmei Li, PhD (SAPA’s President), Jack Wu, PhD (SAPA’s President-Elect and Event Co-Chair), and Jiajun Mei, PhD (Event Co-Chair). They highlighted the mission of SAPA, the journey in the past several years and the agenda of the day.


David Ke (Managing Director, Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan) delivered the first informative and engaging keynote speech on the topic “State of the Equity Markets and M&A Environment.” During his talk, Mr. Ke shared insights on three main aspects: (1) updates on healthcare equity capital markets, (2) recent healthcare investor activity, and (3) strategic activity and the outlook for mergers and acquisitions. Addressing a turbulent macroeconomic backdrop, he highlighted four key market drivers: inflation, rising interest rates, geopolitical concerns, and recessionary fears. Moreover, for healthcare investors, the evaluation and sentiment across the large pharma/biotech landscape are primarily shaped by long-term growth due to the impending “patent cliff” faced by many pharmaceutical companies. Lastly, Mr. Ke provided insight regarding more than thirty biotech companies on his radar that have the potential to drive substantial growth in the coming years.



The second keynote speaker, Dr. Jeff Bockman (EVP, Oncology Practice Head at Lumanity) delivered a comprehensive speech on the topic: “Weighing Risks and Rewards in Oncology within the Current Biotech Climate.” His presentation covered four key aspects: (1) the significant market value of oncology, with a particular focus on Checkpoint Inhibitors (CPIs) and anticipated continuous approval successes, (2) the intense competition in the oncology space across platforms, technologies, and modalities, where the value is often thinly differentiated among validated targets, (3) the excitement on combination immunotherapy (IO) therapies compared to the recognition of the value of orthogonal mechanisms of action (MOAs) and potential challenges in trial strategies, and (4) the recommendation for companies to adopt extensive clinical development strategies and execution to take the advantages of being an early mover in order to achieve a better return on investment (ROI).


Peter Luo, PhD, Co-founder and CEO of Adagene Inc., presented the third and final keynote speech, on the topic of “New Paradigm for Anti-CTLA-4 Therapies: Expanding Safety and Efficacy Boundaries in IO/IO Combination Therapy.” He discussed the unmet medical needs for “cold” tumors and PD-1 resistant/refractory patients, emphasizing the significance of Anti-CTLA-4 therapies. The current challenge in research and development mainly lies in finding the right balance between dose-dependent toxicity and efficacy. Dr. Luo’s team is working on developing a new paradigm for Anti-CTLA-4 therapy by targeting CTLA-4 in the tumor microenvironment. So far, both masked and unmasked Anti-CTLA-4 candidates have shown favorable safety profiles compared to historical controls.


Following the morning’s keynote speeches, fireside chats with esteemed industry professionals commenced. The first fireside chat focused on “Best Practices in Healthcare and Life Science Cross Border Transactions.” The panel for this session featured Marc Estigarribia, MBA, Managing Director of MSQ Ventures; Mark Young, MBA, Co-founder and Managing Director of BridgePoint Capital; Yuhang Zhao, PhD, MBA, Senior Advisor of CGE Holding; and Lili Zheng, MS, Partner, International Tax, AP Cross-Border Services Leader, Deputy Managing Partner, Chinese Services Group at Deloitte Tax LLP. The fireside chat was moderated by SAPA President-Elect, Jack Wu, PhD, MBA, Head of Global Business Development, Search & Evaluation at Antengene.

During the discussion, the panelists focused on the growing trend of cross-border business development from East to West, despite the challenges posed by cultural differences, policies, and the complicated US-China relationship. The panelists emphasized the significance of robust scientific foundations and differentiated strategies in pipeline development and clinical trial designs. They also emphasized the need for biotech companies to maintain a long-term relationship with investors while staying focused on the core scientific aspects of their mission.


The second fireside chat discussed the subject: “Collaborative Entrepreneurship for Continuous Innovation.” The panel for this session included Peter Luo, PhD, CEO, Adagene Inc.; Jesse Hwang, PhD, Scientific Engagement Lead of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS; Amy Liao, PhD, CEO of Couragene, Inc; and Zixuan Pang, PhD, Managing Director of IDG Capital. The fireside chat was moderated by SAPA Immediate-Past President, Xiaodong Chen, PhD, Director of CMC Operations at Roivant Sciences.

During the discussion, the panelists focused on the changes that startup companies have to adopt in the post-pandemic era. They emphasized that entrepreneurs should prioritize the development of one or two highly differentiated and promising pipelines in order to thrive in challenging times. The panelists suggested that entrepreneurs should have ambitious aspirations, build strong teams, and invest in programs with significant market potential that set them apart from the competition.


At the end of the morning session, Event Co-Chair and SAPA’s Immediate-Past President, Xiaodong Chen, PhD, delivered the closing remarks. He recaptured the achievements made by SAPA’s Healthcare Investment Forum & Roadshow over the past six years. As an example, the winner of the first Roadshow event, HighTide Therapeutics Inc., has recently successfully filed for an IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange. He also emphasized the importance of mutual support between the investors and entrepreneurs built during the past SAPA Healthcare Investment Forums & Roadshows, which is especially valuable in the current market downturn.


During the lunch break, the attendees and the speakers engaged in lively conversations.

The Afternoon Session


After lunch, attendees were invited to make their choice between three parallel sessions: the Healthcare Investment Roadshow; One-on-One Discussions; and the Entrepreneurship Workshop.


Session I was a continuation of the online Healthcare Investment Roadshow that took place on June 30th. The Roadshow provided an opportunity for the startup companies to pitch their innovative business ideas in-person to receive real-time questions and advice from investors and advisors. The roadshow advisor panel consists of experts in investment, business development and clinical development, such as: Alvin Luk, PhD, CEO at HudaGene Therapeutics; Amy Liao, PhD, CEO at Couragene; Dong Chen, MBA, Investment Director at Wedo Venture Partners; James Lee, PhD, Senior Director at Everest Medicines; Mirabelle Mi, VP, Head of China Market Research at RTW Investments; Yuhang Zhao, PhD, Senior Advisor at CGE Holding; and Zixuan Pang, PhD, Managing Director at IDG Capitals. These experts served as adjudicators for this Roadshow.

In total, twelve startup companies presented their projects in this Roadshow. The companies covered various therapeutic areas including cancer, neuro-diseases, and genetic disorders. There was a diverse representation of medical products, such as small and large molecules, lipid nanoparticles, and medical devices. The projects presented covered all development stages, from preclinical to marketed products. The companies also demonstrated top-notch scientists in their leadership teams, strong IP protection, and solid scientific foundations. The advisors’ questions jump-started engaging discussions as they offered invaluable advice to improve the various business plans to achieve competitive market differentiation. At the end of the Roadshow, Hanchor Bio, Notitia Therapeutics, and Panorama Medicine were awarded the first, second and third places, respectively. Notitia Therapeutics also won the Audience’s Favorite Award. Congratulations to all the winners!

Hanchor Bio, the first place winner


Notitia Therapeutics, the second place winner


Panorama Medicine, the third place winner


In Session II, the participants enjoyed the unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with talented and experienced entrepreneurs or investors. These one-on-one conversations served as a platform for building connections and exchanging valuable insights and advice between the meeting partners.

Session II One-on-one discussions


Session III was the Entrepreneurship Workshop, providing knowledge and insights to help potential entrepreneurs decide “to start up or not.” Successful entrepreneurs, experienced investors, legal and tax professionals had a lively discussion with the audience from diverse perspectives. Event Co-Chair and SAPA’s Immediate-Past President, Xiaodong Chen, PhD, delivered the opening remarks for the workshop. The session leads, Willie Wu, PhD, COO of Brilliant Pharma, and Stephen Xue, MS, General Manager at Chipscreen Biosciences (US) Ltd, introduced the workshop’s agenda and extended a warm welcome to all the speakers and audience.


The first speaker,   Hu, PhD, an investor and entrepreneur, Board Director and CEO of Viva BioInnovator, began the session by sharing his experience as an entrepreneur. He stated that launching a startup requires true mental and physical preparation for the challenges and effort along the journey. It is important for an entrepreneur to have a truly differentiated advantage to stand out in the eyes of investors. It is also crucial to develop a bigger mission beyond the financial goals, such as benefiting the patients at large and addressing major unmet medical needs.




Next, Mark Tang, PhD, MBA, Managing Director of World Biotech Capital LLC, shared his top ten tips for entrepreneurs in the biotech industry. Dr. Tang’s tips included working with experts in a team to solve problems rather than alone, as well as accepting as many financial contributions, investments, and grants as possible, especially when the market window is open, in order to keep the company running. A brief business plan is also essential for a startup to set clear goals and guidelines to smoothly manage regular operations and attract investors.

  Mark Tang



Afterwards, individual speakers offered unique insights from their own career experience. Wendy Pan, JD, PhD, Partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, spoke on the entrepreneur experience from a legal perspective. She discussed several essential issues in setting up a new company, including the company’s form, place of incorporation, and initial equity structure.

Wendy Pan


Glenn Tyranski, MS, Managing Director at FTI Consulting, gave a speech on the operation of a startup company from the perspective of a CPA. He shared with the audience his insights on the business planning of a startup, such as by analyzing an entrepreneur’s tasks under the “BRIE model.”

Glenn Tyranski

Lili Zheng, MS, Partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, discussed the entrepreneurial process from a tax perspective. She provided a comprehensive overview of the tax implications of different holding structures of a company, especially under the cross-border context.

Lili Zheng

Bing Yuan, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of OnCusp Therapeutics, then spoke from the perspective of an entrepreneur. He discussed his career path and how he became an entrepreneur after launching his own company. Dr. Yuan indicated that he learned to plan his career trajectory at least five years in advance, by reflecting on the long-term direction of his career. As an example, Dr. Yuan pointed out  that, at the beginning of his career, he drew from his commercial working experience to inspire his larger creative entrepreneurial ideas.

Bing Yuan


The above individual speeches were followed by a panel discussion. Steve Yang, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO of Mianus Capital, moderated the discussions with a panel of leading industry speakers including: W. Jerry Liu, JD, PhD, Partner and Chair of China Practice, Fox Rothschild LLP; Bing Yuan, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of OnCusp Therapeutics; Peimin Liu, MBA, Senior Tax Manager of Deloitte; Wendy Pan, JD, PhD, Partner of Goodwin Procter LLP; Glenn Tyranski, MS, Managing Director of FTI Consulting; and Lili Zheng, MS, Partner, International Tax, AP Cross-Border Services Leader, Deputy Managing Partner, Chinese Services Group, Deloitte Tax LLP.

The speakers gave advice to attendees about the optimal strategies for starting a company. For example, they suggested that the good time point to start entrepreneurial ventures is either very young, so there is plenty of time to turn around and start fresh again after failures, or after attaining substantial career experience, so that failures will not prevent the ability to use previously-built credentials to continue on the previous career path. In the case of the biotech industry, the panelists spoke about the benefit of waiting to launch a new company until enough experience is in place to create a well-thought-out business plan that can impress investors for early rounds of funding, which can then go towards attracting even more investors. The speakers also affirmed that having reliable partners within a solid team is very important, because investors tend to invest more in the people than the assets during the early stages of fundraising. Ideally, the team is composed of people that have known each other or worked together before with great compatibility.


The 2023 SAPA Healthcare Investment Forum & Roadshow brought together a multitude of impressive healthcare leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and professionals to connect over a common mission of promoting business cooperation in the healthcare space. Conference attendees also got the chance to network and mingled at the reception afterwards.  Attendees concluded the full day of events rejuvenated by a newfound passion to take action towards their dream career trajectories, armed with the knowledge gained from the networking and learning opportunities with successful industry veterans. Thank you to all who joined us!


Suggest adding a few words of Willie and his colleagues here … they have put considerable efforts into the organization of this workshop.  e.g., briefly introduce the moderator(s) …  do you recall who opened the session? I believe Xiaodong Chen opened the session. The session was led by Willie Wu and Stephen Xue.


Suggest adding a few words of Willie and his colleagues here … they have put considerable efforts into the organization of this workshop.  e.g., briefly introduce the moderator(s) …  do you recall who opened the session? I believe Xiaodong Chen opened the session. The session was led by Willie Wu and Stephen Xue.