Steered by a prestigious committee, the BioFIT 2021 conference programme is tailored to match the interests of every player of the sector and fit the expectations of its stakeholders, whose sharp minds operate in the fast-paced Life Sciences sector. The 2021 programme is rooted in four custom-made tracks, addressing the right funding sources for early-stage innovation, best practices in academia-industry R&D collaborations, winning ways to nurture early-stage assets and animal health highlights.

All BioFIT’s attendees will have access to a mix of live and on-demand content during the event. This content will be available for 30 days afterwards. They will also have the opportunity to debate with the speakers via interactive online chats.

DAY 1 – Tuesday, December 7th

2:30 – 3:30 pm CET

Biopharma early-stage R&D in 2021: Is it time to review innovation sourcing strategies?

R&D has always been the beating heart of the pharmaceutical sector and 2020 was an even bigger year than expected, with funding channelled into pharma in record amounts, boosting R&D activity. With significant milestones in innovative research reached over the past decade and an ever-increasing pressure to innovate, are we witnessing shifts in drug development and portfolio management for pharma companies? Are there new ways to capture precompetitive opportunities? With more money available for biotech start-ups, is it more difficult for Pharma to make deals? Are there new contractual terms required in deal making? What are the roles of new R&D tools, the greater use of data and research platforms? Are they helping to identify new opportunities and impacting innovation sourcing strategies? Are sourcing strategies now easier to establish with a global footprint? 

Moderator: Gerald Law, Chief Executive, Innovation DB


Fostering academia-industry partnerships is key to fuel innovation in the sector. Which areas are prone to fuel collaborations? What are the key drivers for bringing together the scientific, academic, advocacy and industry spheres? How are the advances in specific fields influencing academia-pharma partnerships? How can these collective efforts question the way the industry is covering the pre-competitive status?

DAY 1 – Tuesday, December 7th

9:30 – 10:30 am CET

Key witness of the industry: 10 years of BioFIT, 10 ways R&D collaborations have changed

2021 will mark the 10th edition of BioFIT. On this occasion, key industry and academic players, long-standing participants of BioFIT will look back at the developments that have shaped the collaborative landscape of early-stage research in the biopharma industry.

  • Tim Dafforn, Director Knowledge Transfer, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham
DAY 2 – Wednesday, December 8th

10:30 – 11:30 am CET

At what stage in the development of an R&D project should patient organisations qualify as partners?

There is a general desire for increased involvement of patient organisations in collaborative healthcare projects, as they bring experience, knowledge and real-life assessment to the table. What are the benefits of creating partnerships that cross scientific, academic, advocacy and industry spheres? How early should patient organisations be involved in R&D efforts? How do patient organisations influence the way collaborations are carried? What are the favoured R&D tools involving patients at research scale and what is their acceptance?

Moderator: Nick Hicks, Head, European Operations, Chase Partners LLC

  • Poul Sorensen, Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Allero Therapeutics
  • Rebecca Canter, Investment Associate, Dementia Discovery Fund
  • Jane Meijlink, Chairman, International Painful Bladder Foundation
  • Berthold Hinzen, Head of Licensing Women’s Health, Radiology & New Spaces, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
DAY 3 – Thursday, December 9th

10:30 – 11:30 am CET

How to collaborate on academic research assets such as databases and registries?

Data bases, registries and cohorts’ results are academic assets that can be goldmines to the industry. To what extent do they spark the interest of industrial players? How to maximise the value of such databases and registries through collaborations to discover new therapies?

Moderator: Jürgen Walkenhorst, Manager Patents & Licences, PROvendis


Early-stage assets evolve in an ecosystem where TTOs, scientists and entrepreneurs are closely connected. Understanding the mechanisms and difficulties of nurturing and licensing assets is key to properly influence the valuation of assets at an early stage. How can we fully understand the proposition behind the value? How can we transform science into business more frequently and efficiently?

DAY 1 – Tuesday, December 7th

10:30 – 11:30 am CET

From a TTO’s standpoint: Finding the good match in asset transactions

How are TTO’s evaluating the suitability and sustainability when out-licensing? To what extent are they assessing whether the licensees will have the know-how, vision and resources to develop the asset in an effective manner?

Moderator: Chris Shelley, Partner, Penningtons Manches

  • Thomas Tradler, Head of the Executive Department Business Development / Patent Management, Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology
  • Holger Neecke, Head of Technology Transfer Office, IFOM
  • Richard Reschen, Associate Director, Business Development & Licensing, MSD
DAY 2 – Wednesday, December 8th

1:30 – 2:30 pm CET

Cell & Gene therapy: New kind of medicine, new forms of technology transfer?

The amount of academic and early-stage biotech research in cell and gene therapy has skyrocketed over the last few years. However, manufacturing technology for these therapies is largely still at the first-generation stage, stemming from the early academic, without adequate technology solutions available. What are the maturation and roadmap choices made for cell and gene therapy assets? What are the pharma companies’ strategies when sourcing those technologies? Is the pace of deal-making in cell and gene therapy faster and occurring earlier in the drug development process?

Moderator: John Hodgson, Managing Director, Communication, LifeSci Advisors

DAY 3 – Thursday, December 9th

1:30 – 2:30 pm CET

Taking the right fork in the road: What are the criteria to choose between out-licensing vs. creating a company?

How to valuate and make your project out? What are the best options among licensing, corporating or creating a start-up? On which grounds are TTOs advising to create a spin-off rather than out-licensing the IP or a contract-based R&D collaboration? What each of these alternatives entail? What kind of surroundings would you need for each of these options?

Moderator: Lisa Urquhart, Editor, Evaluate Vantage


This track aims to understand the mechanisms enforcing investors’ presence in early stages of development. Are we witnessing surges of investment in specific therapeutic areas? Who are the new players involved in investing on the biotech sector and what are their pre-requisites? Are there increasing interactions and partnerships between pharma and VCs at these initial stages?

DAY 1 – Tuesday, December 7th

4:30 – 5:30 pm CET

Pre-money venture valuation: How to reach a fair agreement?

There is usually a big disparity between investors and entrepreneurs regarding the valuation of an early-stage biotech company. How to determine what a company is actually worth? How do funds price the assets? What are the biases from each side? What are the points of negotiation?

Moderator: Eliott Harfouche, Managing Partner, Nodes Advisors

DAY 2 – Wednesday, December 8th

3:30 – 4:30 pm CET

Comparing 2 biotech companies’ business models and the way they get financed: Funding rounds vs. Collaboration with pharma

What are the alternatives to the prevailing model of fundraising? Are there concrete growth opportunities relying only on licensing and collaboration deals? What are the criteria for fulfilling this alternative route? This session will draw on the experience of biotech companies embodying these different models.

Moderator: Claire Skentelbery, Director General, EuropaBio

DAY 3 – Thursday, December 9th

3:00 – 4:00 pm CET

Which alternative funding options to VCs for biotech & MedTech start-ups?
[Common session to MedFIT]

There is more money than ever fuelling the biotech and MedTech industries, and different kind of investors are entering the stage with more influence than previously thought possible. Which options are there? What do you need to identify these funding sources? What are the expectations and specificities of working with angel investors, disease foundations, private equity firms, cross-over funds and family offices? What are the best funding strategies for biotech & MedTech start-ups?

Moderator: Anya Roy, Head of Seed Investments & Technology EMEA, Illumina accelerator


This track features the latest innovation challenges in animal health R&D and intends to provide a clear understanding of the bridges that can be built between human and animal health. International experts from veterinary research and industry will discuss the latest initiatives to improve and accelerate the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and pharmaceuticals for animal diseases and beyond.

DAY 1 – Tuesday, December 7th

1:30 – 2:30 pm CET

What are the best innovation strategies to build bridges between animal and human health?

One Health initiatives aim to encourage the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally. The tools provided by biotechnologies open up opportunities for understanding, solving, and preventing the common threats to the health of people, animals, and the environment. How to bridge silos to answer these threats? How to foster further collaborations and knowledge transfer to best exploit the potential of biopharma tools and assets?

Moderator: Laurent Choppe, Managing Partner, Cukierman & CO. Life Sciences

  • Theo Kanellos, Director, Business Development and Commercial Alliances, Zoetis International