Longevity

Longevity Investing

Silicon Valley is filled with start-up ventures and risk-taking investors, and leads the US in longevity investing.

Longevity investing is one of the most innovative, exciting and potentially transformative sectors of the life science market, with promising longevity research occurring across the US.
For instance, MIT-based biologist Leonard Guarente, who’s also director of the Glenn Lab for the Science of Aging and co-founder of Elysium Health, has made headlines for his anti-aging pill called Basis, which contains a chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It mimics the effects of caloric restriction.
However, by and large, the main breakthroughs in longevity innovation are concentrated in one specific region: Silicon Valley. The area is a hotbed of new companies, groundbreaking research and passionate venture capitalists who are committed to seeing progress in the area of longevity investing.

Silicon Valley companies

In September 2013, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) announced the establishment of Calico (short for California Life Company), a company focused on tackling the problem of aging and its associated diseases. In a press release, Google CEO Larry Page explained, “illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”
Human Longevity (HLI) is another company that believes that “moonshot thinking” may just be the solution to extending human life. Co-founded by geneticist J. Craig Venter, Celgene Cellular Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CELG) founder Robert Hariri and X PRIZE Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis in March 2014, HLI is building the world’s most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes. The San Francisco-based company strives to develop genome- and cell-based therapeutics to address illnesses related to aging.
Unlike other life science sectors, where there is intense competition between companies (think of the major companies dominating big pharma), Calico and HLI don’t view each other as threats. Instead, as Venter told the Guardian, “our approach can help Calico immensely and if their approach is successful it can help me live longer. We hope to be the reference center at the middle of everything.”

Culture of longevity investing

Together, Calico and HLI exemplify the sort of long-shot longevity projects that are taking off in Silicon Valley. HLI secured $70 million in its initial round of funding, illustrating that venture capitalists aren’t shying away from these risky ventures.
Silicon Valley-based hedge fund manager Joon Yun is a perfect example of this willingness to take risks. In 2014, Yun launched the Palo Alto Longevity Prize, a $1-million prize promoting longevity research. A $500,000 Homeostatic Capacity Prize will be awarded to the first team that can restore the homeostatic capacity of an aging mammal to that of a young adult. The second award is the $500,000 Longevity Demonstration Prize, given to the first team that extends the lifespan of its reference animal by 50 percent (as measured against published norms).
Yun hopes that these awards will incentivize the development of innovations that increase healthy lifespans, and it’s that type of outlook that is solidifying Silicon Valley as the foremost region for longevity investing in the US.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Morag McGreevey, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Related reading: 

What is Longevity Investing?

Why Should I Consider Longevity Investing?

2015 Top Trends in Longevity Investing

5 Top New Longevity Stocks

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