Meet 2011′s Buzz of BIO Winner, Amrita Therapeutics

The One-on-One Compass

2011 Buzz of BIO Health Winner

Amrita Therapeutics is a bio-pharma discovery company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, pursuing the development of novel, multiple disease targeting therapies for cancer. Last year, they won the Buzz of BIO Contest for the 2011 BIO International Convention, where industry executives and leaders voted on their favorite biotech companies. BIO recently spoke with Susan Finston, the CEO of Amrita Therapeutics, to get their thoughts on the contest, last year’s BIO event, and what their company is up to now.

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For a young company like Amrita Therapeutics, being chosen as the Buzz of BIO winner was truly an amazing experience akin to that of Cinderella at the ball . . . if the ball had lasted four days! As CEO/MD for Amrita and the Buzz winner, I received complimentary registration for the BIO International Convention with full access to educational/policy sessions, BIO Exhibition, and most important of all – the BIO Business Forum, which also included a Company Presentation for our company.

The sheer size and scope of the Convention can be challenging for a small company to navigate. While I have attended the event for the last several years, the Buzz of BIO contest helped me think strategically about different aspects of the Convention and how they all come together to support Amrita’s business development and fundraising efforts. The BIO Business Forum was important for two reasons, providing both a coveted 15-minute slot to make an extended “elevator pitch” for Amrita to industry leaders, and opportunities for focused partnering meetings.

The prospect of the 15-minute BIO Business Forum presentation was both terrifying and exhilarating. It was hard for me to imagine that those lining up to see presentations from Takeda, Pfizer, and other global companies, would attend Amrita’s briefing as well. The Buzz of BIO team got the word out about the Amrita briefing! It was an incredible experience to step up to the podium of the BIO Business Forum to see a packed room for our presentation. (The Convention was also our first experience with making videos of Amrita presentations, and the BIO Business Forum presentation is available on the Amrita website www.amritatherapeutics.com.)

Also at the BIO Business Forum, Amrita was able to request and accept one-on-one “speed dating” meetings with companies that have led to continuing discussions with potential for longer term R&D partnerships, out-licensing and/or equity investment in Amrita. As noted by Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO, the goal of the Buzz of BIO is to “help lend a voice to companies that may be overshadowed by the larger, more established organizations within the industry.” That was my experience for Amrita last year. Without the greater visibility for a small company like Amrita, it is hard to imagine that we would have garnered the positive attention of major bio-pharmaceutical companies at the Convention.

For companies that are entering the Buzz of BIO competition this year, the process is a concentrated version of the focused networking efforts that every company needs for long-term success. Each year brings a greater wealth of digital and social media outlets to drive attention to companies in the contest, and the same is true this year. Win, lose or draw, the Buzz of BIO competition provides a wonderful opportunity for all competing companies to garner attention at the 2012 BIO International Convention!

Where are we now? Last year we had only provisional patent applications and in vitro data for our lead peptide drug. Now, Amrita has filed our first two full utility/PCT patents and R&D has continued apace with development of additional drug candidates. In particular, we hope to be able to share our initial in vivo results in June. We also will be presenting an international case study on ongoing R&D between Amrita in India and a leading research institute in Portugal, the Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST).

The BIO International Convention has become an integral part of our strategy towards meeting our business development and fundraising goals. Amrita co-founder Ananda M. Chakrabarty and I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Amrita will be returning to the Business Forum to give company presentation at this year’s event. Stay tuned for their presentation time, to be posted in myBIO!

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