Amsterdam, The Netherlands was the hub of dealmaking for the life science industry during the BIO-Europe Spring® partnering event held at the RAI Convention Center March 12–14, 2018. This high-powered event saw nearly 2,500 executives representing 1,426 companies from 55 countries engage in 14,500 one-to-one partnering meetings.
The event also featured panel discussions and workshops where leading industry figures examined major trends, challenges and strategies impacting the life science dealmaking community. We've personally plucked some of the highlights, which include:
Cell and gene therapies
Asiya Giniatullina, Forbion, "It is a big moment in the field with a better understanding of mechanisms and a critical mass of expertise. The opportunities in cell-based therapies are becoming interesting in the autoimmune space for an expansion beyond oncology, first to autoimmune-driven diseases that have a lot in common with the oncology mechanisms, and then beyond this into other indications where the immune system plays a role and can affect the outcomes." Read more about this panel.
A day in the life of experienced dealmakers
Hakan Goker with Merck Ventures: "It is always challenging when pharma stops a program. It is a big machine with a lot of experts who can analyze something to death before they decide whether to go forward or not. Pharma gives things up for multiple reasons. The machinations of such organizations are quite complex. Things fall out despite how exciting they look. As long as there is a very clear explanation behind why they are letting go of a compound, it should not be difficult to raise new financing, especially if it is first-in-class or best-in-class." Read more about this panel.
Venture capital and alternative financing
"The universe of companies suitable for venture capital is relatively small within healthcare," says Jonathan Tobin, Investment Director, Arix Bioscience. "Not all managers are VC-friendly or want to have investors breathing down their necks or owning three-quarters of their company. There has to be an alignment of interests," he said before adding a provocative observation that, "The company where venture capital is appropriate is one that can absorb a very large bolus of money in one go and generate a disproportionate value in a very short space of time. This is why it is so appropriate to biotech, because companies are generating IP rather than tangible products. There is a large amount of goodwill in valuations because these companies are creating something that is intangible, whereas companies developing products that have revenue are evaluated on a more tangible basis and there is less opportunity for investors to make ridiculous returns. It is the potential to make these sometimes absurd returns that we hear about that creates the interest in biotech venture capital even though on a risk-adjusted basis it does not make sense." Read more about this panel.
"IO is here to stay, it is not a bubble or a passing fad," said Khatereh Ahmadi, who is the Executive Director for Business Development and Licensing at MSD. "IO is so broad, spanning epigenetics to metabolism to microbiome, so there is yet a lot to explore for a while longer. We have taken a very empirical approach to this with more than 400 combinations and 700 trials." Read more about this panel.
China's emergence in the global drug development industry
The President of Pullan Consulting, Linda Pullan said, "Visiting any major city in China, it is stunning to see the number of young companies. And to see the number of new facilities funded by local government or investors that are helping these companies to grow rapidly. The transition from generics to true innovation is exploding, because once the Chinese decide to do something, they do it fast." Read more about this panel.
Join us for our next conference, ChinaBio Partnering Forum where you can forge valuable cross-border partnerships with one of the fastest growing healthcare sectors.