The BioFIT 2017 conference programme is designed to address the needs of its audience constituted by academia, TTOs, research institutions, pharma, biotech companies, but also law experts and investors in pre-seed, seed and Series A. The BioFIT agenda aims to provide solutions, best practices for every player of the sector.
BioFIT’s 2017 wide-ranging programme has been redesigned around three tracks:
- Track 1: New players involved in innovation in the health sector
- Track 2: Nurturing and licensing early-stage assets
- Track 3: Bioentrepreneurs’ challenges at pre-seed, seed and Series A stages
This year’s aim is to focus on bioentrepreneurship, explore the mutually beneficial relationships between academia and industry, address access to seed capital, and oversee new trends in financing early-stage innovation.
The event reflects the fast-paced and dynamic Life Sciences sector.
The early-stage investment actors can be seen as traditionally geographically anchored, but now seed and Series A investors tend to invest in more diverse geographic areas. Where does the money come from? How far is this evolution towards more global funds going? How fast is it going in the investment community? Will it make the investors more willing to take risks, will it change the risk landscape? Isn’t there an ill-balance today between the geographical origin of investment capabilities and the areas that are crawling with projects needing equity investment?
NEW PLAYERS INVOLVED IN INNOVATION IN THE HEALTH SECTOR
Big data and health IT companies provide key expertise to potentially increase efficiency in the discovery, preclinical and clinical stages of development. What will be their position and involvement in the therapeutic innovation chain: Will they participate or lead? Examples of collaborations between biotech, pharma, IT companies and academic research will be highlighted. However, these new players don’t only originate from the big data sector, they also come from various areas such as animal health or e-health.
Companies are now using machine learning in highly specific ways to streamline and improve many day-to-day biomedical research tasks. The use of AI has shifted from generalist tasks to purpose-built tools with numerous applications to speed up drug discovery at all the different research stages. The panel will address some of the uses of AI, ultimately potentially cutting R&D costs by aggregating and synthesising information, repurposing existing drugs, generating and validating novel drug candidates, designing drugs and preclinical experiments, etc.
Why should a human-focused biotech company be interested in the animal health industry? Are there common grounds that can lead to more frequent and fruitful collaborations between animal and human health companies in the future? Today, it is obvious that the animal health industry offers a clear value proposition to human biotechnology companies, which can maximise the financial and clinical impact of their assets by leveraging both human and veterinary health. The physio pathological features of several diseases (cancer, osteoarticular affections, infectious diseases, pain…) are progressively understood as at least common between animal and human. This paves the way to innovative products developed under the sign of a so-called comparative medicine. This panel will encourage a provocative, straightforward and realistic discussion on what each side needs from the other to set up mutual beneficial partnerships.
Beyond sharing physical means, this session focuses on deliberate strategies of life sciences industry and the academic world to pool R&D resources to address common questions and reach common goals through shared R&D strategies and aligned incentives. We will review some partnerships that have chosen to take a leap forward and collaborate together on scientific projects that they couldn’t do on their own.
What are the consequences and benefits of adding patient organisations to existing alliances? How do these collaborations work? How do they create value for the whole life sciences community? What is the actual influence on patients of public/private partnerships? What is the actual involvement of patient organisation in financing the collaborations?
NURTURING AND LICENSING EARLY-STAGE ASSETS
Early-stage assets evolve in an ecosystem in which TTOs, scientists and entrepreneurs are closely connected. This subject will focus on assessing opportunities in licensing early-stage projects, discussing the mentoring role of TTOs and exploring scientists’ commitment. It aims to underline the difficulties for maturing early-stage assets. How can we transform science into business more frequently and efficiently?
When spinning out a company, one strategy applied by the university or TTO is to often take an equity position in the start-up. When this happens, how do the university or TTO play their role as a shareholder? Do they keep a close eye on the development of the company and continue to offer active support or do they act more as a sleeping partner? How is the risk measured and what is the exit short-term/long-term strategy chosen by those unusual shareholders?
What are the latest group actions to have been jointly taken by the industry, academic institutions, equity investors, and governmental bodies that take academic-origin assets as early as possible and inject the proper amount of money into them, in order to get the project licensed at the right moment and at the safest possible stage?
Technology transfer offices play a central role in the biotech ecosystem, as they are meant to bridge the gap between bench and bedside and succeed in commercialising an academic discovery. As most new biotech start-ups arise out of IP resulting from academic research, the efficiency of this system is of outmost importance. This panel discussion will highlight both successes and limits in that externalisation of tech transfer approach.
Bringing new therapies to treat rare diseases requires more than scientific innovation. Innovation in business models and incubation financing is critical as the need to find ways to cost effectively develop new medication is becoming highly important. Initiatives like collaboration centres and rare disease centres try to take the best of both worlds by implementing multidimensional approaches to address the needs of the rare disease community. In addition to conducting their own research, collaborative models that feature pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, start-ups, and patient groups are now being put in place.
BIOENTREPRENEURS’ CHALLENGES AT PRE-SEED, SEED AND SERIES A STAGES
The right mindset, a solid presentation and business model are not the only requirements that bioentrepreneurs must fulfil at pre-seed, seed and Series A stages. What are the expectations of project maturity from investors in 2017? How often are new types of early-stage investors involved in financing rounds (including philanthropic and specialised ventures)? How does the angels/seed investors relationship work? Are there increasing interactions and partnerships between pharma and VCs at these initial stages?
All of these non-dilutive financing sources are becoming increasingly numerous thanks to both the emergence of interest expressed by many trusts and foundations in financing innovative start-ups, and also to the many governmental schemes that are devoted to financing the first steps of biotech start-ups. How do these sources of revenue lead to real leverage effect or create constraints for the companies? What types of constraints do they expose biotech entrepreneurs to?
When creating a biotech start-up, different routes can be taken: The virtual biotech model, the technology platform model, the one single asset company… How do those initial choices influence the exit scenario of the company?
Investment in immunotherapy in 2018 is still attractive and sought out; what is its growth potential after several years of being an investment blockbuster? What have been the 2018 investment successes in immunotherapy? Will immunotherapy disrupt the oncology market? Are we at the growth, maturity, or saturation stage when we talk about investing in immunotherapy?
The seed investment market is comprised of players with varied degrees of specialisation, from totally agnostic players involved in multiple industries, to pure players focusing on specific therapeutic areas. Do most specialised funds attract the more generalist types in the financing rounds? What is the importance of the amount of seed investment today for cross-industry funds, 100% healthcare-oriented funds, and pure players in the biotech industry, respectively?