On 21 April 2021, hundreds of attendees from investment, science and healthcare areas attended the PSYCH Investor Summit: Europe & Asia. The concise half-day virtual conference delivered the industry’s most promising opportunities directly to investors and funds in a day of networking, panels and company presentations from some of the most exciting enterprises in the space: Field Trip Health, Gwella, Awakn Life Sciences and Wake Network.
As the leading global source for psychedelics intelligence, PSYCH empowers operators, regulators and investors to make informed decisions. Our work intersects knowledge and networks, providing access to trustworthy data, independent sector analysis and engaging events.
The first PSYCH Investor Summit delivered a premium virtual-event experience to facilitate the necessary conversations and drive the growth of this emerging frontier. Distinguished industry leaders, rising entrepreneurs and global psychedelics investors connected to explore opportunities, as well as to share and learn more about regional research and market happenings.
The global health and wellness market is a robust growing sector, worth US$4.5 trillion – not including an estimated US$7.3 trillion (WHO) of worldwide healthcare services’ expense. It is estimated that lost productivity from mental health disorders costs the global economy US$1 trillion annually.
Psychedelic investment opportunities in global regions are still emerging. Today, there is a scarcity of public companies solely focused on psychedelics and most are trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE) – very similar to how the now-multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry began. Within the investment opportunities for psychedelics, most attention is directed today at second-generation drug development companies, with an additional market in clinics/retreats and nutraceutical offerings.
Professor David Nutt opened the Summit with his hypothesis about what’s to come, in a keynote address titled The Future of Psychedelic Medicine. Joined by Head of Growth for PSYCH, Victoria Dekker, Professor Nutt shared a compelling review of how psychedelic treatment has emerged and where it is heading, providing a comprehensive initial understanding for investors looking into the space.
‘In the last 10 years we’ve seen a complete volte face in our understanding of MDMA. Now, we see it as one of the most remarkable tools to heal the brain.’
Professor David Nutt
Head of Research, Awakn Life Sciences
While the transformative potential of the psychedelics industry is becoming increasingly evident, the highly contested topic of patents and intellectual property remains a hurdle for businesses and eager investors to overcome. Following the keynote presentation, the PSYCH Investor Summit: Europe & Asia hosted a panel titled Exploring the Challenges (and Opportunities) Around Patents & IP in Psychedelics.
Moderated by Business Insider journalist Yeji Jesse Lee, and joined by Richard Cheung (General Counsel, Noetic Fund) and Tim Schlidt (Partner, Palo Santo), the panel discussed the implications and importance of intellectual property for the future of the industry – and what this means for companies seeking vital capital.
‘That’s the trade-off – to take on that risk and upfront spend, while on the backend you’re going to be granted a temporary monopoly.’
Partner, Palo Santo
While the concept of risk and reward is not news to an investor audience, what should be noted is the scale of the reward on offer. If a company is the first to advance a compound to the market, the FDA will grant five years of regulatory exclusivity, and, as such, companies at the cutting edge of the industry have a unique opportunity to potentially block competitors. However, as Noetic Fund General Counsel Richard Cheung reiterated, there is ‘a high bar for ethical considerations in the space’, meaning that to patent natural compounds will have a profound effect on the ethos of the psychedelic industry.
PSYCH offered a poll to our audience of investors to gauge whether patentability of psychedelic therapies is crucial in enabling their development. Of those polled, 22% of respondents said yes, 17% said no and 61% said ‘important but not crucial’.
Bringing regions into focus, the panel Lessons Learned: What Can Europe & Asia Learn from the Psychedelic Industry in North America? explored how emerging psychedelic markets and business models in Europe and Asia can learn from the industry successes and failures in North America. Greg Kubin (Founder & Host, Business Trip) led panellists Nick Murray (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Wake Network) and Bek Muslimov (Founding Partner, Leafy Tunnel) through a frank and open discussion.
‘There is less red tape, in terms of compliance with regulation. That may be one reason why (some psychedelics companies) are based in Europe.’
Founding Partner, Leafy Tunnel
While North America continues its psychedelic renaissance, Europe is emerging as a hub for psychedelic innovation. Fundamentally, global regulation regarding psychedelic medicine and therapy needs to adapt faster to the body of evidence; however, Europe has comparatively fewer obstacles to clinical trials and research compared with certain regions of North America, panellists said.
It is the common industry assumption that psychedelics will follow the path of cannabis legislation, yet research into psychedelic drugs and functional nutraceuticals is comparatively further along in the medical approach to clinical studies when compared to cannabis. As Europe continues to place emphasis on the purely medical benefits of prohibited substances, the astounding medical evidence presented by psychedelic research offers the possibility that a shift towards these alternative therapies may accelerate at a faster pace compared with cannabis.
The PSYCH Investor Summit: Europe & Asia showcased the potential impact of psychedelic drugs and functional nutraceuticals to disrupt as well as transform global healthcare. This new approach to the treatment of mental health disorders not only has the opportunity to save billions, but also could replace some of the most widely prescribed medications currently on the market.
Save the date for our next event: The PSYCH Virtual Investor Summit: Research & Development, set to take place on 7 July 2021. Our second virtual global event will bring together researchers, operators and investors, showcasing the very latest clinical evidence for this exciting sector, alongside another host of expanding businesses looking for capital. We’ll share updates on speakers, programming and more in the weeks to come.