BIO-Europe® 2015 is off to a great start beginning with the lovely Welcome Reception last night at HBV Forum.
BIO-Europe 2015 panel “Microbiome and human health: From understanding to intervention”
The morning began with parallel workshops, including animal health and a session on the China pharmaceutical industry. The panel “Microbiome and human health: From understanding to intervention” was well-attended. Eric de La Fortelle of Seventure moderated panelists Joel Dore of INRA; Herve Affagard of Maat Pharma; Mark Offerhaus of Micreos; and Marie Lindner of Novartis AG. The panel covered three themes:
- Theme 1: Correlation to causation – Does dysbiosis cause disease and can correcting it be causative?
- Theme 2: Emerging products – Add good bacteria, restore balance, and remove pathogenic ones via live microoganisms, molecules or engineered viruses?
- Theme 3: Financing innovation in the field – Are there enough VCs interested, what is the special role of corporate VCs, and are there any other sources of capital for microbiome companies?
During the discussion, Affagard offered an explanation of how an imbalance (dysbiosis) of the microbiome can result in disease including metabolic, autoimmune and more. In our gut, we have 10 times more bacteria than there are cells in our body. Symbiosis of our bacteria has a long history but only recently has an understanding of their diversity and role in disease been established. The question is, is correlation of disease to disruption in our bacteria only diagnostic in value, or is there overlapping value in curing disease? Treatments using the microbiome are selective; only the infectious bacteria are targeted, leaving the beneficial bacteria, making microbiotics suitable for daily use. Look for a more detailed story on this intriguing panel on partnering360 Insight.
Mid-morning, BioM Biotech Cluster Development GmbH hosted a press conference in the Bavarian booth which was attended by a large crowd.
Anna Chrisman of EBD Group welcomed attendees with news that a record 19,000 one-to-one partnering meetings have been scheduled at BIO-Europe 2015 using partneringONE®. Warm remarks from Franz Pschierer of the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology, followed, as well as inspiring words from Horst Domdey of BioM. Dave Thomas of Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) gave an overview of dealmaking in 2015. According to Thomas, today there are 5,070 clinical programs, of which 70% are small companies as defined by the criteria of having under USD 1 billion in sales. 42% of those programs, or 1400, are partnered. 2015 is looking to be another potentially record-breaking year in terms of upfronts, as well, with USD 5.4 million in total upfronts (preclinical and clinical) already. What is accounting for this rise? There was a surge in large deals in 2015 with over USD 100 million in upfronts, largely contributable to oncology companies. The top ten deals in 2015 were in oncology, said Thomas. As well, 2015 saw a seven-year high in Phase I deals. 2015 was also a record year with USD 23 million in deals, with R&D stage acquisitions at an all-time high. For disease areas, there was an increase in deals in rare disease, inflammation, neurology, ophthalmology and respiratory programs. Thomas also said that there was an increase in Phase III acquisitions. Overall, the number of deals in 2015 has not increased much, which implies rising valuation, and large companies are continuing to stay small via dealmaking strategies.
BIO-Europe 2015 Opening Plenary “How big can be small”
The Opening Plenary, “How big can be small,” was moderated by Mark Edwards of BioScience Advisors, with panelists John Glasspool of Baxalta; Bahija Jallal of MedImmune; and Simon Sturge of Merck Healthcare. Pharmaceutical companies strive to maintain an innovative mindset despite their size and traditional structure. Company culture, flexibility, and having the right players while minimizing layers of communication are critical elements to sustain the feel of a biotech as they grow. Alliance management is also key, as external collaborators need to understand the pipeline strategy. The panel delved into their strategies for sharing IP, meeting unmet needs and more. Not surprisingly people are the most essential and critical ingredient to the culture of an organization to help them maintain an innovative mindset.
In the afternoon, the panel “To IPO or not to IPO: Why biotech companies should go public (or not), and where to do it” was moderated by Peter Homberg of Dentons, and featured a panel of investors including Konrad Glund of Probiodrug; Brian Hagerty of NYSE; Christian Hodneland of William Blair & Company; and Olivier Litzka of Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners.
A comparison of European IPOs shows that there was EUR 860 million in European IPOs in the first quarter of 2014, compared with EUR 973 million in European IPOs for first quarter 2015. The panel sought to answer, why would a biotech choose an IPO path as opposed to regular financing? Hodneland identified three motivations for companies wanting to list in the public market:
- Access to capital quickly
Important considerations are that the company needs to have a program suited to public investors. And Glund said it needed to have its drug in patients. Also, it needs to have reachable milestones. It is also important to consider the support of existing investors in determining whether to postpone or move forward. This trust and commitment is directly linked to liquidity. Hagerty said a lot of companies in the US have public backing before they go out in order to get a bigger bite of the apple before the IPO. Concrete milestones are important but situational, as some investors like to see a certain amount of de-risking prior to commitment. According to Hodneland, the number one validator is who your existing investors are, if they are public, and if they have that backing and not from ten years ago. The management team is also a consideration, and prior experience with a biotech that was acquired is invaluable. These are just a few nuggets from this deep panel. Read another perspective on this panel in the article, “Are you IPOable?”
The afternoon featured many more panels, many of which will be available soon on partnering360 Insight. Also find more coverage on BIO-Europe at Informa, or Scrip Intelligence Blog and the BIO-live Blog joint initiative.
At 4 pm, partnering360 announced the first winner of its BIO-Europe iPad-a-Day Giveaway at the EBD Group Exhibit Booth #91. Congratulations to Sam Chua of Luye Pharma Group Ltd. based in China. All entries from today will be eligible to win an iPad Tuesday or Wednesday. See this blog post for rules on how to enter.
Tonight’s evening networking reception will be hosted by the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology at Munich Residenz, the largest city palace in Germany. Shuttle buses will begin departing from the congress center at 6:45 pm.