Julian Nikolchev, Intuitive Ventures | Interview at LSI Europe '23

Intuitive Ventures invests in and accelerates the digital, therapeutic, diagnostic, and device ecosystems of minimally invasive care.
Julian Nikolchev
SVP, Corporate Development & Ventures, Intuitive Surgical



Julian Nikolchev  0:00  
Hi, my name is Julian Nikolchev, I'm a Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Ventures at Intuitive Surgical. My role in Intuitive Surgical is to identify new clinical indications, new technologies, and new opportunities to continue the growth of intuitive that they have experienced for the last few years. I lead a group that has three pillars for identifying and developing new technologies. One is an advanced research group that's identifying and developing internally new technologies. And then we have business development group and a venture capital arm that we have launched around three years ago. The difference between the two is they're both focused, obviously, on creating and identifying strategic opportunities for Intuitive. The business development group works very closely with companies that are of interest to us, because they can add some value to our current products, or to near term future products. The role of the venture capital arm that we've launched three years ago, is actually a to have a much broader vision, vision and visibility of what's going on in the healthcare industry. So they're always to identify strategic trends, strategic, interesting strategic developments, basically utilizing the vision of Intrapreneurs, who are taking risks to develop some of the new things that will impact healthcare in the future. The venture capital arm first, just to give you a little bit of background, it's $100 million fund that was launched three years ago. And we are focused on early stage investments, we typically write checks from 500,000 to 5 million, we would start companies, we would seed companies, and we would invest in series A and B, in the areas of interest for us are actually quite broad. We really, as I mentioned earlier, the role of these of this group is really to identify new strategically relevant technologies for us. So we look at number of things that we think about 5 10 years from now will have impact in under in healthcare technology. So obviously, digital, the impact of digital healthcare is one area that's of interest to us. But we're also looking at diagnostics and how diagnostics is going to, especially early diagnostics or precision diagnostics, how its how that is going to change therapies in the future. Intuitive is based in California, so, and our team is based there. But we're a global company, we have presence around the world. And so we're pretty agnostic about the geographies we we like to go to where the opportunities are. But we've been coming to LSI from actually probably three or four times over the years, I've been involved as an entrapreneur starting companies, I've also have involved in merging companies with large companies. Now I work with Intuitive. And so I've known LSI over the years and how it evolved. And I really believe that LSI has created a great environment for a very dynamic, very healthy mixing between intrapreneurs investors, both strategic investments and venture capital investors, and a way to learn how the med tech space is developing, and the status the the feel of the medtech industry at the present time. So I've always enjoyed coming to LSI and meeting some of the new companies that are presenting the opportunities that we would like to identify need to obviously start by addressing a significant market opportunity to begin with, they have to have a successful or at least very talented team behind it. As well as they have to have an understanding at least of how they will be successful in the future. So we really like to look at opportunities sort of holistically. And we would also when we make an investment, we want to really align with the team to make sure that we are thinking about the success in the same way. Right now, of course, we are very much monitoring what is going on in the digital space, machine learning, AI that I'm sure everybody mentions in these meetings, is definitely has the potential to transform many aspects of healthcare. We're also interested in understanding better how some other new technologies that are coming in, in the space, which is virtual reality, for example, is that going to have an impact and where will it have an impact is another area of interest. And a third area is is that I think is really exciting. There's a growing technology developments that are going on in precision diagnostics. And it will be very interesting to see how identifying diseases at an earlier stage of their development is going to impact the decisions about what therapy This would be approached appropriate. So that connection between diagnostics and therapies is very interesting. Our goal is to the event was really to both meet companies that are presented here in a broad, broad space, the broad area of med tech. At the same time also meet other investors, our fund is relatively new. And as a corporate venture capital fund, especially from Intuitive Surgical, we want to be recognized as a high value added venture fund, and also want to be able to connect to the ecosystem of investors and entrepreneurs. Because success of a venture fund really depends on the deal flow. So we want to increase our awareness, visibility and also recognition that we're here to stimulate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the med tech space. Well, I definitely would recommend LSI to entrapreneurs. First, because this is an opportunity for them to meet other people hear about how they're going about developing their company or growing their company, as well as meet potential investors. It's, it's a very dynamic networking environment that LSI creates really well. The other aspect I would recommend to investors to potential venture capitalists to come in again, for the same reason, really is just to hear the developments and the companies that are being formulated, as well as have an opportunity to meet and maybe establish relationships with other investors. So for 2023, we actually are, we have still a few opportunities to invest in small companies. So our focus is really to identify one or two opportunities that we believe would fit into our portfolio of the current fund. And hopefully, those are going to be exciting and successful. Maybe coming out of this meeting at LSI.

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