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Investorview: Dr Z Haroon on Julz Co’s recent investments

Julz Co focuses on healthcare investments across the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, particularly medical devices, therapeutics, digital healthcare and services. It has offices in North Carolina, USA, and in Suzhou, China. The venture capital firm recently made two new additions to its portfolio: CALCIVIS and Stent Tek. The process for both of these investments was initiated at Biotech and Money’s two-day flagship event, Biotech and Money/Medtech and Money London, which took place in February 2017. In February 2018, this event will relaunch as Biotech and Money/Medtech and Money World Congress at 200 Aldersgate, St Paul’s, London.

Julz led the Series A investment round in Stent Tek alongside Deepbridge Capital, which also provided the company with an initial seed investment in 2016. The Series A financing round, which closed in August 2017, will enable Stent Tek to advance the development of its ePATH AVF medical device, a minimally invasive catheter system for dialysis patients. The technology is designed to provide a more efficient way for patients to receive hemodialysis for kidney failure.

Julz also participated in an equity funding round for medical device company CALCIVIS, together with existing investors Archangel Investors and the Scottish Investment Bank. CALCIVIS has developed an imaging device for the visualisation of active demineralisation, enabling the development of a preventative treatment plan in line with dental best practice. The investment, which was announced in October 2017, will support the commercial launch of the company’s imaging system in the UK and its Pre-Market Authorisation filing with the FDA ahead of an expected US launch in 2019.

At the Inv€$tival Showcase on 14 November 2017, Biotech and Money caught up with Dr Z Haroon, Chairman and General Partner, to learn more about the firm’s recent investments, the support it provides to companies in its portfolio, top tips for companies approaching the firm for investment, and what excites it most about Europe’s life science sector.

Z Haroon.jpgCan you tell us more about how the CALCIVIS and Stent Tek deals came about and your investments in these companies?

We met these companies in February 2017 at the Biotech and Money event. Normally, our process is: if we are intrigued by the company’s technology and the market opportunity we follow up with a cursory due diligence. If the company survives that review, we do deep due diligence.

Both of these companies were addressing a market need. In CALCIVIS’ case, we had looked at numerous imaging technologies, and CALCIVIS really stood out for its combination of a really novel method and targeting a space at a point at which intervention can help.

We are big believers that for diagnostic information to be useful, there has to be a relevant therapeutic/corrective action that can be taken. In the imaging and diagnostic field, the market is flooded with a lot of stuff where, yes, you will gain the knowledge, but what you do with it is a question mark. If you don’t know that, it is difficult to make money out of the diagnostic tool.  We like CALCIVIS, in part, because its system provides actionable intelligence.

Stent Tek is also an interesting opportunity. It is a very young company with really nifty technology, which has applications not only in dialysis, but also critical limb ischemia.  The stage of development of Stent Tek’s technology is a little before our sweet spot; unlike CALCIVIS, Stent Tek is still early stage. But the technology is very good, and the team is very capable so we felt like it was best to engage at this time. The solutions that Stent Tek is providing would definitely be a big plus for patient populations, and they are easy to implement.

What will the funding rounds you are involved in allow those companies to achieve?

CALCIVIS was a scale-up round so that will allow it to take up the sales in the UK. The Stent Tek funding is still dedicated to development.

How do these two companies fit into your wider portfolio?

We are a broad-based healthcare fund, we invest in everything across the board in healthcare. Each area, whether it is service, diagnostics, devices or therapeutics, has its own sweet spot for us.

Stent Tek and CALCIVIS are in different stages of development; do you have a preference as to what stage you invest in a company?

In the devices arena, we usually like to come in very close to initial approval points. We are not going to be in play if the technology is not de-risked at some level and there’s not a real reimbursement opportunity.

On the other hand, we like to work with our companies to help them get to their eventual exit point. We do not have a pre-determined time horizon on the exits, so that separates us from those time-limited, time-capped investment funds.

Aside from financial backing, what other support do you provide to companies?

We bring a lot of experience and knowledge regarding most of these companies’ development, as well as marketing and sales help. In addition, we also bring a network and connections for not only US and European expansion, but also Asia-Pacific expansion, specifically China.

For that eventual exit to be exceptionally good, you have to have an established network, and whatever you have is never enough. We believe in making sure we work with the companies at every level and help shepherd the investment.

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Louise Fordham
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