The next generation of radiation used to treat cancer - particle accelerators that shoot a very intense yet precise proton beam, causing less damage to the surrounding tissue – is already in the marketplace, but at only about 40 working facilities in the world. The challenge? Design future treatment centers to work in a much smaller space (currently they are housed in a huge warehouse like room) and cost a lot less than the current $100 million price tag.
I invested in this Madison, Wisconsin-based startup, Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation (CPAC), a few years ago. The good news is that the secret sauce still seems to be encouraging, and there is ongoing technological progress and genuine hope that the first CPAC unit will be commercially available in 2015.
The bad news? It’s taking forever, and it understandably requires a ton of money to get something to a finished product. Not to mention, of course, FDA approval, medical insurance reimbursement codes, getting through the long sales cycles at hospitals, etc.. It’s a topic that I didn’t cover particularly well in the chapter on angel investing in my book. If you decide to invest in a medical device/drug discovery/diagnostic startup, prepare yourself for much more often than not a very long ride, requiring lots and lots of follow on rounds to keep the business going and to finally have completed product, sold to customers around the globe.