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January 05, 2023
Meet the New Investors on Norwest’s Healthcare Team, Bringing More Expertise in Life Sciences
Healthcare
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When General Partner Tiba Aynechi, PhD joined Norwest at the beginning of 2022, she set out to build a world-class biotech investment team to complement our existing expertise in medical devices, healthcare services, and diagnostics. Since then, the team has nearly doubled, expanding our expertise to therapeutics and biotech—a strategic decision stemming from our newest 3-billion-dollar fund, Fund XVI.

The mandate gives our team a broad, holistic view of the entire healthcare system, from patients and physicians to hospitals and payors, to pharmaceutical development. The biotech investment team has more than 40 years of collective research and investment experience, building and working with numerous companies in their tenure.

They’re eager to work with strong management teams, helping innovators transform cutting-edge science into therapeutics with lasting impact on the patients’ lives. The team is on a roll with recent 2022 investments in MBX Biosciences and Rezo and looks forward to putting significant capital to work as they allocate funds from our Fund XVI.

Investment focus

  • Therapeutics assets and platforms
  • Pre-clinical to proof of concept
  • Addressing large, unmet needs across a wide range of indications and modalities including autoimmune, respiratory, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology, cell and gene therapy, and rare diseases

Investment preference

  • Strong management teams
  • Innovative science
  • Seed and early- to mid-stage investments, with deal sizes that could total $40-50M over the lifetime of a company.

Our team has always placed a special emphasis on research and outcome-based solutions to critical healthcare needs. For founders and leadership teams, having an investment partner who understands the complexities of the medical science behind an experiment or device is critical. By expanding our investment focus and expertise, the entire team now has wide exposure to all facets of the healthcare ecosystem. 

 

Meet our Newest Healthcare Venture Investors, Specializing in Biotech
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Tiba Aynechi, PhD

General Partner, Venture

Tiba is a seasoned biotech investor with 20+ years of research and investment experience. Based in San Francisco, she leads our investments in early- to mid-stage companies within the therapeutics sector.

Prior to joining Norwest, Tiba spent over 10 years at Novo Holdings A/S, a top life sciences investment firm where she was responsible for the deployment of capital across private biotech, MedTech, and HCIT companies.

Throughout her career, Tiba has successfully partnered with entrepreneurs across a range of company types and stages from preclinical platforms to clinical-stage assets as well as commercial-stage medical device and HCIT. Tiba has also been active in company formation around both early- and later-stage assets.
She’s held board seats on Nkarta Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: NKTX), Spruce Biosciences (NASDAQ: SPRB), Avalyn Pharmaceuticals, Aristea Therapeutics, Allievex, Mirum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MIRM), Cianna Medical (Acquired by Merit), iRhythm Technologies (NASDAQ:IRTC), AnaptysBio (NASDAQ:ANAB), Arcellx (NASDAQ: ACLX), MDLive (Acquired by Cigna).

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Brian Matesic photo

Brian Matesic, MD

Principal, Venture

Brian, who joined Norwest in August, is an experienced life sciences investor. He brings a wealth of knowledge across the biotech space and focuses on early- to mid-stage companies.

Prior to joining Norwest, Brian worked at Blackstone Life Sciences, where he helped lead over $1.5B of investments across biotech, medical devices, and diagnostics. He was a Board Observer or Alliance Committee Member at five companies, working closely with management teams on clinical trials, FDA approval process, and commercial strategy. Brian was previously an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, where he advised companies across the healthcare industry.

Brian has a medical degree from Stanford and MBA from Harvard. His research on prostate cancer, diabetic macular edema, and patient safety has been published in multiple peer-review journals.

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Ehi Akhirome photo

Ehi Akhirome, MD, PhD

Investor, Venture

Ehi joined Norwest from McKinsey’s Life Sciences practice, where he advised clients in the pharmaceutical and medical products industries on corporate strategy, M&A, and R&D.

Ehi has an MD and a PhD from the MSTP at Washington University School of Medicine. During his PhD, he published papers on the genetic mechanisms of risk in congenital heart disease. He also has bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from Emory University, where he graduated with highest honors.

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Trey Jennings photo

Trey Jennings

Investor, Venture

Before joining Norwest, Trey was a part of the strategy and business development team at Senti Biosciences, a next-generation cell and gene therapy company that is developing gene circuits to reprogram cells with biological logic to sense inputs, compute decisions, and respond to their cellular environments. Previously, Trey held positions with the life sciences group at Wells Fargo Securities in San Francisco and the Pfizer Neuroscience Research Unit in Cambridge, MA.

He is currently a board observer for TigerConnect, VisitPay, Neocis Inc., Avalyn Pharma, Monogram Health, and Excision BioTherapeutics. He’s also helped lead investments in Clever Care Health Plan, Science Exchange, and Nanopath.

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Strengthening our expertise in diagnostics, devices, and services

Our Healthcare team also welcomed two new venture investors who specialize in diagnostics, devices, services, and pharmatech.

  • General Partner, Zack Scott, MD, is an ambitious investor with decades of experience in the healthcare industry and a keen eye for pragmatic solutions. He’s led notable investments in Omada Health, SetPoint Medical, iRhythm Technologies, and many more.
  • Principal, Irem Rami, is a seasoned investor who deeply understands how to integrate technology into traditionally low-tech areas of healthcare. She will predominantly focus on venture and growth investments across healthcare services, pharma services, healthcare IT, and digital health.

 

What’s in store for 2023? Portfolio building.

With all hands on deck heading into the new year, our team can’t wait to talk with more entrepreneurs and build their portfolios. We have “quintupled down” on our mission to back remarkable management teams with innovative models across the healthcare industry. One of our guiding principles is that a product or solution should improve patient health outcomes or the efficiency of healthcare delivery. Our effort continues to emphasize Norwest’s values of doing well by doing good and choosing long-term rewards over short-term gains to ultimately yield the best results for everyone. Our team looks forward to partnering with companies that will have a lasting impact.

Interested in our previous healthcare investments? See our healthcare portfolio.

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