ADFW 2023: Interview with Aaron Weaver, senior partner and director, and Salvatore Lavallo, director, Apeiron MENA

A look at the transformative investments of the $2.5 billion-asset company
ADFW 2023: Interview with Aaron Weaver, senior partner and director, and Salvatore Lavallo, director, Apeiron MENA
Apeiron is a leading global investment group

At its core, the leading global investor Apeiron aims to leverage technology to help people lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. In this interview, Apeiron MENA’s Aaron Weaver and Salvatore Lavallo break down the company’s investments and discuss how their diverse portfolio contributes to achieving that goal. They also share expansion plans in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Aaron Weaver is a senior partner and director, while Salvatore Lavallo is a director.

Economy Middle East: Could you provide an overview of Apeiron’s current portfolio, including healthcare investments?

Salvatore Lavallo: Apeiron is a global investor in the most exciting and world-changing tech & biotech companies, and has a hands-on, entrepreneurial approach. We invest in and build companies that are shaping what we call the Next Human Agenda. It’s a future in which technology empowers people to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Apeiron has more than $2.5 billion of assets under management and our current portfolio encompasses over 130 companies. Our investments span five key sectors. These are life sciences, fintech and crypto, future tech, natural resources and clean energy, and experiences, ports, hospitality and happiness. We are active across the entire company lifecycle, from seed/startup to large-scale investments in listed companies. 

Economy Middle East: How does Apeiron’s investment strategy specifically target technologies that empower people to live longer, healthier and happier lives?

Aaron Weaver: Aperion supports technologies that are focused on emotional and preventative health, by looking at the core physiological and psychological drivers of aging and mental distress. From an investment perspective, they are the areas of largest socio-economic need globally. They are also the most proportionately under-invested, which poses significant opportunities for breakthrough innovations and investment outperformance. The current healthcare system focuses on treating people when they are unwell. However, our investment thesis is about keeping people healthy and avoiding diseases linked to aging. These technologies embrace elements of AI, systems biology, telemedicine and more efficient business models. The goal is to create the next generation of healthcare innovators.

The quest for longer, healthier and happier lives is the core focus of our founder, Christian Angermayer. And it really underpins everything we do. This is reflected in our five investment pillars. 

Aaron Weaver, senior partner and director, Apeiron MENA

Economy Middle East: Could you cite specific examples?

Aaron Weaver: In biotech we’re behind the development of new therapies that we believe will cure the global mental health crisis – and others that will increase the human lifespan – and healthspan. Between these two areas alone we’re working to make sure people’s lives are longer and happier. Our neurotech company, Blackrock Neurotech, already has brain-computer interfaces implanted in people’s brains. This allows previously impossible things to happen, such as giving paralyzed people the ability to create art or even drive autonomous vehicles.  

And then we have our fintech and crypto interests — a space that will enable people to achieve more by unleashing economic and financial opportunities. We also have investments in hotel chains and own Europe’s largest live entertainment company. These are areas that definitely make people happier. Whatever we look at, it usually includes a combination of helping people live longer, healthier or happier lives – and this gives us a strong sense of mission and direction. 

Read: AI in Healthcare can improve health outcomes for all

Economy Middle East: What are the key areas of healthcare innovation that Apeiron is most interested in, and why?

Aaron Weaver: As outlined above, our focus on emotional and preventative health allows us to understand the broader cultural impacts of the healthcare shift, where we see shorter, more insightful feedback loops running on healthcare innovation. This permits a broader set of investors and stakeholders to better understand a specialist asset class and for us, personally, to derive a practical lifestyle benefit by integrating the technologies and well-being practices into our daily lifestyles.

Apeiron aims to release a white paper in January that provides insight & figures on “Investing in the longevity opportunity”. 

Economy Middle East: How do you expect this white paper to contribute to the broader conversation about the future of healthcare? What specific recommendations or calls to action do you intend to make in this white paper?

Aaron Weaver: The paper aims to demystify the structure and behavioral elements of the investment markets that will drive the transformation in human healthspan. It theorizes that the shift in human life expectancy will create a market supercycle within healthcare. It will be driven by distinct categories of lifestyle therapies. These include anti-obesity drugs (Ozempic and Mounjaro dominating a $150 billion TAM) and the subsequent emergence of muscle drugs that will offset muscle aging. Other areas will evolve to tackle areas that an aging population fears. These encompass brain health, vision and hearing loss and skin aging. Those distinct product classes will cumulatively shift life expectancy and healthspan in a similar way that during the 1900s antibiotics, vaccines and statins had shifted average life expectancies by more than 20 years in the Western world.

Economy Middle East: Could you tell us more about your expansion plans in Abu Dhabi and the GCC region?

Salvatore Lavallo: Apeiron’s primary objective is to have a significant long-term economic (and social) impact in the UAE by:

  • Relocating and expanding the presence of portfolio companies to the UAE. Apeiron Investment Group will facilitate the establishment of operations in Abu Dhabi and the UAE for its network of 130+ portfolio companies. The companies will be selected based on their alignment with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.  
  • Catalyzing the UAE’s start-up environment, fostering the creation of new research collaborations, and enabling knowledge transfer with the Emirates. Apeiron will maintain regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi with a focus on venture building, which involves launching new start-ups that are strategically aligned to the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. 

Salvatore Lavallo, director, Apeiron MENA

Economy Middle East: What are your goals in the next five years?

Salvatore Lavallo: Our five-year aspiration is to be one of the most significant contributors to the development of biotechnology (especially longevity, neurotech and mental health), synthetic biology (novel food technology and biomanufacturing), fintech and natural resources in the UAE. Apeiron hopes that the companies it forms and brings to Abu Dhabi will create globally exportable technology. Additionally, the company hopes to make the UAE the leading global source for these technologies. 

Just look at healthcare. Abu Dhabi and the UAE have a great healthcare infrastructure from universities with early-stage science to hospitals. This allows our biotech portfolio companies to do clinical research and drug development approval studies here on the ground. It has one of the most collaborative and responsive regulators who has been great at guiding us through the local ecosystem. This is a real area of strength for the UAE.

It’s also worth highlighting that we are already an active investor in the UAE. Our US venture capital fund, Presight Capital, has begun to undertake venture investments in the UAE, with its first local investment being a seed investment (alongside well-known US venture fund, Y Combinator) into a UAE-based corporate spend management platform, Alaan. And Apeiron is also an investor in Abu Dhabi-based applied Artificial Intelligence company, called Applied Artificial Company (AAICO).

About Aaron Weaver and Salvatore Lavallo

Aaron Weaver and Salvatore Lavallo are key executives at Apeiron Investments.

Weaver is a senior partner and a director at Apeiron Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He is also a founding member of atai life sciences. There, he played a pivotal role in legitimizing psychedelic compounds for FDA clinical investigation and private investment. Based in Abu Dhabi, Weaver is also a co-founder of the New York-based healthcare hedge fund, Jiva Peak, directing investments into artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, data infrastructure and hospitality.

Lavallo is a director at Apeiron MENA. He was previously the head of foreign direct investment attraction at the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO). Lavallo arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2011 for studies at New York University – Abu Dhabi. He has worked at McKinsey & Company’s Abu Dhabi Office and served as a senior advisor to the Tony Blair Institute before his tenure at ADIO. Notably, he holds the distinction of being the youngest person to visit every country on earth.

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