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From Magic to Money: Companies Making Moves in the Psychedelics Industry Space

(Editor’s Note: Welcome to the third installment of “From Magic to Money,” a Bold series on the rising psilocybin industry. The first article explored the health benefits of psilocybin and the second delved into its legal history. Don’t miss any of these stories–sign up for The Bold Wire newsletter and have them sent directly to your inbox!)

From a global perspective, therapies to better manage mental health disorders are in great demand. This is particularly true with the pandemic, which has seen a significant increase in those suffering from depression and anxiety. In fact, in the world currently, roughly 264 million people suffer from depression. This supports a $28.6 billion antidepressant pharmaceutical industry. But despite the availability of these treatments, outcomes are far from ideal. Few patients enjoy complete remission, and partial improvement is usually the best result. But this may soon be changing based on recent psilocybin and magic mushroom research.

Collectively, these types of substances are known as psychedelics, and research regarding their use looks promising. For example, several studies now show that psilocybin is beneficial for treatment-resistant depression. One study even showed that half of these patients enjoyed remission of their complaints after a limited trial of the drug. As a result, there are several psychedelic companies making moves in the marketplace. And it’s why many investors are expecting the psychedelics industry to boom in the coming years.

“We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in the field of mental health. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies are one of the most promising new means of treatment available; they will allow clinicians to tackle the growing global mental health crisis we are facing.” – Jonathan Sabbagh, Co-founder and CEO, Journey Clinical

A scientist handling a magic mushroom with tweezers
The psychedelics industry is expanding, and a number of companies are expanding with it.

Rising Stars in the Psychedelics Industry

While research involving psilocybin and magic mushrooms are still in its infancy, the results are indeed promising. A number of mental health conditions could benefit from psychedelic therapies. These not only include depression but also addiction, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. Thus, the market for use of these drugs is tremendous, which is why several psychedelic companies are emerging. And while it’s hard to know who’ll be the long-time winner in the psychedelics industry, a few are quite intriguing. The following are a few of the psychedelic companies that could be leading the market in the years to come.

  • Mind Medicine, Inc. – This is one of the psychedelics companies that has a broad vision of the psychedelics industry of the future. They suggest the market involving psilocybin and other similar drugs could exceed $100 billion. With this in mind, Mind Medicine is pursuing a diversified pipeline of psychedelic drugs as well as digital therapeutics. By combining the two, they hope to introduce new therapeutic approaches for a number of mental health conditions.
  • 20/20 Global, Inc. – This is another one of the psychedelic companies pursuing digital therapeutics and psychedelic drugs. The company recently joined forces with Mycotopic Therapies in an effort to advance the use of these drugs alongside psychotherapy. It hopes to use data collection, analytics, and algorithmic applications to streamline care in the psychedelics industry.
  • Compass Pathways – Based in the U.K., Compass Pathways has already gained $290 million in funding. It is one of the psychedelic companies interested in providing synthetic psilocybin for therapeutic use. In addition, the company holds the patent for the use of synthetic psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression. Therefore, if its flagship compound, COMP360, proves to be a success, it could be the early psychedelics industry leader.
  • Cybin, Inc. – Not only is this one of the psychedelic companies involved in the development of psychedelic medications. It is also pursuing new drug delivery methods as well. Currently, Cybin is working on a sublingual formulation of psilocybin that reduces the dose required for administration. It also recently completed a reverse merger takeover of Clarmin Explorations to expand this medications applications. Cybin currently is working on two different drugs, one for depression and one for anxiety.
  • Journey Clinical – This New York City startup is new to the psychedelics industry. However, it is one of the psychedelic companies taking a unique approach to the marketplace. It plans to offer a decentralized system by which therapists can access psilocybin and similar psychedelic drugs. This will allow therapists to act autonomously while gaining access to needed tools of care. Journey Clinical has already raised $3 million in capital funding.
  • Numinus Wellness, Inc. – Based in Canada, Numinus Wellness is well-poised to be a leader in the psychedelics industry. Health Canada has already licensed it among psychedelic companies to cultivate, extract and sell naturally-occurring psilocybin. The company is also publicly traded now on the NEO exchange. Eventually, the company hopes to expand its licensing options even further within this sector.

 

“[Psychedelics] could save lives, cure depression, help alcoholism, get people off opioids—why wouldn’t I want to be invested?” – Kevin O’Leary, International Investor and Shark Tank Personality

Psychedelic Companies of Tomorrow

For the last several decades, psychedelic research has essentially been placed on hold. Governments across the world declared psilocybin, magic mushrooms, and other hallucinogens illegal and a danger. But this was view was both biased and short-sighted. As new research emerges, it is clear that these compounds have tremendous potential when it comes to mental health interventions. And given the magnitude of the population suffering from refractory mental health conditions, this is exciting news. This is why the future of the psychedelics industry looks so bright. If new drugs offered by psychedelic companies fulfill their promise, then these could revolutionize mental healthcare.

At the current time, it appears that the role psilocybin and other drugs will play will be in combination with psychotherapy. This approach allows a professional therapist to guide the response to the altered state of mind into a therapeutic realm. Based on the approach of many psychedelic companies, this appears to be the favored strategy as well as the safest one. And it’s also the one supported thus far by existing clinical studies. Given this model, it is therefore more likely that psychedelics will gain favor with the public as well as governments. The psychedelics industry is banking on this as is clearly evident by the array of psychedelic companies that already exist.

 

The official Bold Business survey results are clear: most favor work-from-home over going back to the office. Read more in this important Bold story!

IMPACT Public Service Fund’s Webinar Recap – The Future of Water

With a growing crisis regarding climate change, it is inevitable that much of the world will experience a future water shortage. The need for water resilience not only relates to global warming, but it also involves rapidly changing weather patterns. The future of fresh water is also affected by the continued rapid growth of urban areas. Each of these developments highlight the importance of water resilience. And innovative solutions are needed to address these challenges in the immediate future. Unless greater awareness and efforts are made to address our future water shortage, major impacts will be felt in numerous communities.

(Read more about the companies seeking solutions to water resiliency issues in this Bold story.)

With this in mind, IMPACT Public Service Fund held a recent webinar entitled “The Future of Water.” Experts and innovators led a detailed discussion to speak about the future of fresh water from a global perspective. Overviews of our current situation were provided as were insights about a certain future water shortage to come. In essence, the webinar provided a call to action for all sectors in an effort to avert the crisis at hand. This not only included government officials and policymakers but also business leaders and the community at large. In order to enhance water resilience satisfactorily, a concerted effort by all will be required.

(Read more about the Impact Public Service Fund and their mission here.)

 

“The Future of Water” Webinar

The virtual webinar to discuss the future of fresh water was held on September 23rd. Several entrepreneurs and experts came forth to express their concerns about what seems to be a future water shortage. Climate changes that have already occurred are triggering these events at present. And social demographic changes are also contributing further to these concerns. Understanding this, the following touches upon some of the keynote speakers and notable highlights of the webinar.

  • Spencer Glendon – Founder of Probable Futures

Glendon noted the impact that climate change is already having on the world today. Already, fires are occurring in Northern regions that are unaccustomed to having such events. The cause of these fires are lightning strikes, which were previously unheard of in these regions. Specifically, Alaska now has frequent bouts of lightning as a result of rising energy in the air. Spencer then further notes the expanding regions of drought occurring in South America. This too has contributed to portions of the Amazon suffering from fires as well. In depicting these changes, he expressed the challenges and inevitable instability a future water shortage will bring. His objective analysis is concerning and calls for change to attain a brighter outlook for the future of fresh water.

  • Marla Smith-Nilson – Founder of Water1st International

While perspectives about a probable future of fresh water is enlightening, so is the need to raise awareness. In this regard, Smith-Nilson encourages all of us to adopt a broader view of the problem. She agrees that a future water shortage is likely, and in order to minimize this, we need to appreciate water usage. This not only involves direct use of water in our homes but indirect uses as well. She notes that food production, manufacturing, and all sorts of activities contribute to a future shortage of water. Specifically, she described how Jackson Lake near the Tetons shrank 30 feet over the summer this past year. This decrease was due to the indirect water requirements for remote communities and for local cattle needs. Unless this is better appreciated by everyone, it will be difficult to implement necessary solutions for change.

  • Doll Avant – Founder of Aquagenuity

The other keynote speaker at the webinar provided some excellent comparison between the opportunities today versus the past. Avant noted how the search for innovative water solutions is similar to efforts searching for oil in the past. The ability to access and secure oil in the 20th century facilitated all sorts of manufacturing and transportation solutions. The same can be said of the Internet in the 1990s as creative uses followed its presence. Doll believes the same opportunities exist for solutions that invent better access and storage of water. In an effort to prevent a future water shortage, she encourages new efforts in discovery. From this point of view, the future of fresh water stability relies on creative inventions.

The Role of Businesses in Water Resilience

Notably, environmentalists, governments, and communities have an important role in preventing a future water shortage. But bold businesses must also comprise a big part in developing solutions. The future of fresh water for communities throughout the world depend on these efforts. And fortunately, several major companies appreciate this fact and are committing to positive change. In leading by example, these businesses demonstrate how a combined effort can reduce the potentially devastating effects of climate change. They can also provide needed resources toward these efforts along the way.

Recently, 3M announced that it would be joining the Water Resilience Coalition in an effort to reduce water-related stresses. PepsiCo has vowed to replenish more water than it uses annually in high-risk areas by 2030. Similarly, Facebook also committed to reduce future water shortages in key ecosystems. Last year, Facebook used over 3.7 million cubic meters of water for its data centers alone. And lastly, Google is striving to replenish 120 percent of its water consumption in the future. These are important moves in the effort to preserve the future of fresh water. If these commitments come to fruition, they can serve as templates for other businesses to promote water resilience as well.

The Global Future of Fresh Water

Objective evidence shows that climate change is rapidly occurring, and a future water shortage is highly likely if not inevitable. But each of us can help minimize these effects through individual and collective efforts. The “Future of Water” webinar highlights not only the current evidence concerning the future of fresh water. But it also provides hope for developing innovation solutions and changes that can make a positive difference. For those who were fortunate enough to attend the webinar, this was the takeaway message. And taking action accordingly is critical if we’re to mitigate the impact of a future water shortage.

 

The official Bold Business survey results are clear: most favor work-from-home over going back to the office. Read more in this important Bold story!

The Future of Farming: Robots Are Making Wine in Italy

Over the course of the last year, the pandemic caused serious disruptions of many industries. Border closings between countries, quarantines, lockdowns, and social distancing forced many sectors to make changes. This led to a variety of new trends and innovative developments as a result. For instance, major advances were made in the health sciences related to vaccines. Also, many businesses and employees embraced remotely working-from-home, realizing notable advantages. But while many of these changes were anticipated, some were not. One notable one involves the wine industry where some vineyards were forced to consider agricultural robots. And now, it looks like this may be the future of farming in this sector.

(Read more about how work-from-home has become the preferred workforce posture in this important Bold story!)

Faced with shortages in workers, many winemakers had to make some tough choices over the course of the last year. Should they adhere to longstanding traditions that involve picking grapes by hand? Or should they embrace technology and invest in agricultural robots to ensure vineyards were harvested on time? For winemakers, this is no easy decision as both choices have benefits as well as risks. But when the pandemic forced some winemakers’ hands, several decided to give agtech a try. Based on their experiences, many believe this may now be the future of farming for vineyards across Europe. But the jury is still out, and some remain quite opposed to bucking tradition.

“It was a very hard decision for a small farm like ours—it will take a long time to make the investment back. But now when the grapes are ready, I can go pick them. We don’t have to worry about finding workers.” – Mirko Cappelli, Vineyard Owner, Tuscany, Italy

The Pressures of a Pandemic

When it comes to wine making, the industry boasts a number of longstanding traditions. Specific regions are well known for producing select grapes and varietals. Climate and terroir are respected and dictate which grapes are most likely to thrive. And when it comes to harvesting, the tried-and-true accepted approach is picking grapes by hand. This is especially evident in regions of Italy, Spain and France where such traditions have been in place dozens of centuries. Thus, it’s understandable how resistance to agricultural robots might exist among winemakers in these areas. Many refuse to see this as the future of farming when it comes to grape harvesting.

Of course, such resistance can suddenly evaporate when unexpected pressures arise. Such has been the case with the pandemic for a variety of industries. For winemakers, the pressures experienced included those associated with labor. Typically, migrant workers from Eastern Europe and other locations come to Italy, Spain and even France to assist with the harvest. But with COVID forcing national borders to be shut, these options didn’t exist. As a result,  vineyard owners struggled to find help. Local pickers were simply not high enough in number in many areas. And the low page, hard work required hardly attracted large numbers of workers during a pandemic. Understandably, many vineyards were forced to consider alternatives, including those related to agricultural robots.

“The whole cluster of grapes has to arrive to the press intact, without any damage. There’s no machine that can harvest without damaging the grapes.” – Philippe Wibrotte, Spokesperson for Comité Champagne

The Pros and Cons of Agricultural Robots

In many sectors, the future of farming is clearly aligned with automation and robotics. (Dive deeper into 2021’s innovations in automation and robotics in this Bold story.) This is even true for corn and soybean harvesting in Europe where many farms have embraced the technology. But for winemakers, seeing this as the future of farming and grape harvesting is more challenging. Grapes must be harvested without damaging the skins in order to attain high yields and quality results. So, when it comes to agricultural robots, there remains a healthy dose of skepticism. Concerns about machines reducing the amount of intact grapes collected continue to exist among vineyard owners. For this reason, many refuse to consider automation as the future of farming for wine production. And in some areas like Champagne, France, the practice is actually against the law.

To robot arms getting drunk on red wine
If agricultural robots make your wine, would you taste notes of metallic and electricity?

While many European winemakers balk at agricultural robots, that doesn’t all of them have. In fact, the pandemic forced many to purchase such robots once it was clear that a shortage of workers threatened harvests. Trends embracing automation as the future of farming have been occurring even prior to the pandemic. Sales of machines for automated harvesting have been steadily rising at 5-10% per year. But this past year, amidst the pandemic, sales rose 20%. And many who invested in these technologies have been impressed with the results. Compared to handpicking, machines improve efficiency 10-fold and require minimal labor. Plus, overall harvest time is reduced by 40 percent. This combined with quality harvesting that doesn’t damage grapes have convinced many this is indeed the future of farming.

“…[L]ast year was the worst labor shortage of his half-century career in wine. Use of harvesting machines among the group’s members increased 20% this year in response. Even smaller producers started looking at buying machines.” – Ritano Baragli, President of Cantina Sociale colli Fiorentini Valvirgilio, a winemaker’s group in Tuscany

Vineyard Harvesting and the Future of Farming

It’s clear that the pandemic convinced many winemakers that now was the time to invest in agricultural robots. But these investments have been difficult given the expenses involved. Automated harvesting equipment isn’t cheap, and it generally requires many years of harvesting to realize financial benefits. Some smaller vineyards have decided to purchase older equipment as a result. But of course, you get what you pay for, as these older machines may have repair costs and lower-quality results. Because of this, it seems agricultural robots make the most sense for larger vineyards currently.

Despite these challenges, trends suggest that automation is slowly changing more traditional farming industries like winemaking. There will always be traditionalists who appreciate the advantages that handpicked grapes and wines offer. And indeed, for select vineyards and grapes, this may be the best approach. But for others where mass harvesting is in place, agricultural robots are beginning to be considered. And at least for these types of vineyards, it seems that automation will play a definite role in the future of farming.

 

The official Bold Business survey results are clear: most favor work-from-home over going back to the office. Read more in this important Bold story!