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Adjacent spaces on the industry's mind ahead of investment forum

In the run-up to this month's Animal Health Investment Europe forum in London, Animal Pharm editor Joseph Harvey spoke to attendees from Zoetis, Elanco and more about their expectations and areas of interest. 

Each year at Animal Health Investment Europe, the growth of the industry's boundaries becomes more apparent.

Not only do the presenting start-ups indicate the innovation trends set to broaden animal health's horizons in the future but the larger companies also tend to outline their growth strategies.

It will be interesting to note the influence of the industry's adjacent spaces on this year's conference, including nutrition, genetics and digital technology.

Theo Kanellos, the director of strategic alliances at Zoetis, said: "The interest of this year's format is the way it is set to facilitate interaction between people on a variety of topics – from workshops on how to best succeed as a start-up to formal sessions on alternatives to antibiotics for example.

"I believe this year's forum will provide even greater visibility to some of the important adjacent spaces that will be key to capture market growth in the future like genetics, diagnostics and digital solutions. Also, I believe the antibiotic resistance issues and the impact of Brexit on EU regulations and market dynamics will be at the top of the mind for many participants."

Maarten Goossens, a principal at Anterra Capital, stated: "Beyond discussions around innovation in traditional areas of animal health, I expect to see increased interest in the role of genetics and big data. Advancements in gene editing create new opportunities for animal disease management. Regulation and public perception still form an important hurdle today but, when overcome, gene editing will substantially change the way we manage an animal's health.

"In the same light, developments in computational science and sensor technology will transform how the industry is operating today, from product discovery all the way down to farm management."

Dr Linda Rhodes: "There are a lot of interesting innovations, particularly in the emerging area of monoclonal antibodies for animal health. Farther out, but very intriguing, are gene delivery or gene therapy."
Industry consultant and Zoetis non-executive director Linda Rhodes said: "I think people will be talking about both the science and the financing of innovation.

"In terms of science, there are a lot of interesting innovations, particularly in the emerging area of monoclonal antibodies for animal health. Farther out, but very intriguing, are gene delivery or gene therapy.

"As far as finance goes, there will be discussion regarding the availability of capital for good ideas. After a group of start-up companies went public in 2013-2015, many investors have been disappointed. I think there is a wait-and-see attitude, with fairly conservative new money. Putting together the combination of innovative technology backed by serious science with adequate start-up funding is the challenge for 2018."

Aaron Schacht, vice president of global R&D and regulatory affairs for Elanco, pinpointed industry consolidation, emerging players and antibiotic alternatives as the key topics of conversation at the upcoming conference.

On the theme of antibiotic alternatives, he suggested "microbiome characterization technologies and modification approaches" as well as "next-generation vaccines" will be the key focus.

Other areas highlighted by Mr Schacht include diagnostics, internet-connected animals, smart ag, Big Data platforms, computational sciences, machine learning, artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, genetics, gene editing and nutrition.

He asked: "Who really has the secret sauce for small molecule discovery, natural peptides, microbiome characterization or translational opportunities?"

Matthias Hofer, a partner at Stonehaven Consulting, said: "There are great many interesting start-up companies selected to present this year. What took my attention in particular is the number of novel technologies being used to address some of the key health issues in animal health. As an example, there are a number of nutritional health companies presenting – all of them offering different, unique and exciting technologies."

Industry consultant Paul Dick commented: "Innovation is a key driver of growth and commercial success in the animal health space. As in previous meetings, I am eagerly awaiting to see the new technologies and products that the early-stage companies will be presenting in the Innovation Showcase.

"In addition, and in terms of innovation, I plan to attend sessions related to two key topic areas that are significantly effecting the animal health industry. These include a) the Aquaculture in 2020 session with valuable insights from key global leaders in this area and b) antibiotic alternatives – the needs of today and tomorrow, and also how they impact the animal microbiome."

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