In this article, Michael Corcoran and James Lawford Davies discuss the firm's participation in Longevity Week and the longevity sector in general.
Longevity Week aims to connect investor audiences with founders, scientists and business leaders within the growing field of regenerative medicine. This year, remote and virtual sessions have enabled global life science companies to discuss major developments in longevity and pitch their ideas for sustainable investment.
In the firm's continued support of Longevity Week, Hill Dickinson recently participated in a Master Investor roundtable discussing key industry progression. James Lawford Davies, a partner in our life sciences and healthtech team, joined notable thought leaders such as Phil Newman, Eric Verdin and Polina Mamoshina to explore a challenging yet rewarding year in the emerging space.
In addition to appearing on the Master Investor panel, we also commissioned a wide-reaching survey on the subject on longevity, finances and lifestyle, seeking further insight into public sentiment and expectations. With hundreds of responses to a broad range of questions, the resultant data illustrates some important themes for consideration. View the Master Investor Longevity Survey.
The impact of Covid-19 on longevity
The Master Investor panel discussed continued government support for longevity research and development, both in the UK and USA. There was also constructive debate on the impact of Covid-19 for longevity projects, particularly with regard to the increased pertinence of helping elderly and vulnerable people improve their health.
Noticeably, 89% of survey respondents said the government should not have the right to impose coronavirus restrictions – such as lockdowns and shielding – on particular sections of society, reducing their quality of life in an effort to extend their lifespan. This should be the choice of individuals, according to an overwhelming majority of survey respondents, quantifying the frustration many in later years of life are currently feeling with government regulations and the focus on shielding the elderly.
However, the panel agreed that positives can also be drawn from the rapid upscaling of resource and support for a coronavirus vaccine, with similar flexibility being transferred to other areas of longevity medicine in the future.
Other key trends and developments in longevity
Besides the impact of Covid-19, our survey data reveals many salient points about life expectancy and saving for retirement. Firstly, with regard to retirement savings, only 36% of respondents under the age of 40 thought they were saving enough for their eventual retirement. By contrast, 76% of respondents over the age of 60 said they were saving enough for retirement, affirming a trend that seems empirically true.
In the UK, average life expectancy currently sits at 81, but 91% of survey respondents think they will live beyond 80. Most people – comprising 30% of respondents – think they will live to between 85-90 years old. This exemplifies the growing confidence of the general public that medical breakthroughs, lifestyle changes, and better treatment and diagnosis of certain conditions (notably cancer) should extend the life-span and health-span of the whole population. Indeed, among our survey respondents, more people think they will live beyond 105 than think they will die before 80 – an important finding.
Another interesting question we asked revolved around the sacrifices people were willing to make to extend their health-span – the period of healthy, functional years where an individual is mobile and independent – by 10%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 77% of those surveyed said they were willing to increase their physical exercise, while just 24% considered alcoholic abstinence as a fair trade-off.
Interestingly, more than half – 52% – of the 542 respondents said they were willing to accept higher prices for certain products as unhealthy options are taxed at a higher level. This is particularly pertinent for those looking to invest in the longevity space. Indeed, it speaks to a profitable market that should continue to grow alongside our desire for increased late-stage health.
In a subsequent question, we asked survey respondents to define how much they would willingly spend per month to extend their health-span by 10%. Examples of possible expenditure include exercise equipment, supplements, nutraceutical products and private healthcare. Just 2% of respondents were willing to spend up to £1,000 per month on additional longevity-related products and services. However, 29% found £100 to be a fair monthly ceiling, with 20% stretching to £200. The ratio dropped to 6% for expenditure up to £500 per month, suggesting a comfort zone between £50-150.
Elsewhere in our study, 33% of respondents were willing to quit red meat entirely. A further 49% reported a willingness to halve their red meat intake. Therefore, when aggregated, 82% of survey respondents were receptive of some change regarding their consumption of meat.
We would like to thank all survey respondents for their time, effort and honesty. Their expert opinions will help inform our continuous research and development, helping to improve the range of services we offer in longevity and related fields.
We act for a number of longevity-focused companies, assisting at the confluence of innovation and regulation. Our life sciences team provides practical, commercial legal advice to clients at all stages of development, from start-up to established multi-national. We support clients from an idea in a lab, to helping incorporate the company, raising capital, protecting and licensing intellectual property, signing strategic partnerships and, ultimately, commercialising life-changing treatments and technologies.
We also help clients navigate a legal landscape that is continuously evolving in response to innovation as well as societal, regulatory and ethical challenges. Our integrated team provides high-quality, trusted advice to some of the world's leading life sciences companies. Our wider areas of expertise include healthtech (including AI), pharma, IVF, embryo research, medical cannabis, cell and gene therapies, and genomics.
Originally Published by Hill Dickinson, November 2020
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