Why Philadelphia will continue to attract future venture investments and medical entrepreneurs
PHILADELPHIA, PA / ACCESSWIRE / January 2021 - Christopher Gaeta is not a stranger to innovation. His medical research work and involvement in the emergency medicine community positioned him to translate his healthcare experiences to venture capital. Gaeta, now 21 years old, joined the team at VU Venture Partners in 2020 as a healthcare sector analyst. “Venture (capital) is a natural fit. I grew up with that entrepreneurial interest. I sold erasers in elementary school, started an eBay sales company in high school, and then found my way to consulting in college.” Gaeta explains that this knack for entrepreneurship was augmented by his interest in medicine. “I came to the Philadelphia area in 2018 to attend Swarthmore College as a neuroscience student.” He has since stayed in the area throughout college and has published several medical research articles. He explained that his publications (linked here) range from “retrospective studies touching on everything from neuroscience to healthcare finance to translational COVID-19 research investigating COVID-19 testing accuracy.”
Having amassed one of the largest LinkedIn networks in the country for his age, Gaeta is one of the top voices in the healthcare venture capital sphere at only 21 years old. “I was fortunate to conduct deal sourcing for just over 500 healthcare companies in 2020. The chance to co-lead an investment for our fund in a med(ical) tech(nology) company is something I am really honored to have done before turning 21.”
Gaeta discusses some of the unique trends in venture capital that he is seeing. He shares the rationale for his bullish stance on the city of Philadelphia’s future as a hub for medical and life science start-ups.
Why do you think Philadelphia is particularly positioned well for venture capital activity in the coming years?
The growth and excitement surrounding the city is not new. We have seen such a remarkable change even only a decade or two back. Philly has been able to grow and hone the respective strengths offered by the city over this time since the early 2000s. The rich culture and endless number of academic medical centers impressed me when I first moved here for undergrad in 2018. Someone mentioned to me the other day that roughly 40% or so of Americans are within two hours driving distance of the city. Take that with what is arguably the hub of medical training in the United States with hospitals like Penn, Temple, Jefferson, and Drexel, this sets a great foundation for medical start-ups to flock to Philadelphia.
Is there an industry or vertical positioned particularly well for the future growth in the city?
There is no question that the life sciences, biotechnology, and healthcare vertical will continue to fall into this growth category. It is the secret sauce that sets Philly apart for entrepreneurs and investors alike. We are finally at a point, from at least my perspective, that is taking advantage of the pretty remarkable concentration of medical professionals in the city. I would take the University City area of Philadelphia as an example. We have two of the most highly acclaimed academic medical centers in the country within walking distance between CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and HUP (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania). With this, places like the lab at Pennovation and dozens of med tech start-ups are beginning to leverage the resources at the nearby hospitals. Naturally, I expect venture funds to take notice and follow the trend into the city. With all that said, time will be the best predictor of the flow of these companies and the capital supporting their growth.
What do you think is causing this growth in Philadelphia? Why this city?
Support from the city, state, and surrounding national communities are all contributing to this anticipated increase in venture investment. Venture capital (VC) has had somewhat of a stagnation of the last decade in the city. However, it is the robust capital and resource commitment to expansion of life science and medical research that is finally catching up come 2021. I view this as the time where the talent already placed can have more appropriate tools to innovate as the University City and Center City areas of Philadelphia build out. The inherent implication of an influx of resources fusing with talent leads to increased business start-ups, and thus, more venture capital attracted to the city.
Do you think the universities within and just outside the city are contributing to this innovation rush?
The colleges and medical centers are helping to fuel the rush. Of course it is not the sole factor at play though. I see the strong talent pool as a major contributor to the trend and, frankly, besides Boston, Philly is really the only city in the country that has such an extensive cluster of hospitals and medical facilities within city limits. I see the role of these institutions as a supporting resource. A means of bringing together top researchers and students into one collaborative. Students have so many clinical, lab, and operations opportunities in the medical sphere. I see this as an exciting time for healthcare technology and its future in Philadelphia. I am eager to see what 2030 holds for medical advancements in the city.