CenterWatch ‘watched’ as more than 60 emerging biotech companies and 125 venture capitalists from across the U.S. converged at the 1st annual BIO National Venture Conference in Boston this week.
The event was hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MBC). Boston will now become the Conference’s permanent home.
The conference was designed to bring young, early-stage, startups together with potential investors to fill the coffers of the next wave of biotech hopefuls. These firms often are on the cutting-edge of developing new treatments involving innovative antibiotics, RNA-based therapies, and stem cell and regenerative medicines. The mating game was especially poignant given what many perceive as a severe funding drought in the life science industry.
“This conference is aimed squarely at the seed stage companies of today. We want to help get their footing and grow to become the industry leaders of tomorrow,” said Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of BIO, during his opening remarks.
A recent report by the NVCA found that first quarter 2008 funding for seed and early stage enterprises – especially essential for young biotechs –fell 17% in to $1.7 billion compared with the first quarter of 2007. Overall, venture funding in all sectors was down 5% to $7.1 billion compared with the same period in 2007.
The software industry led the pack with the most venture funding; however, the news wasn’t all bad for life sciences. The biotechnology and medical device sector had the largest number of deals (234) of any industry during this year’s quarter.
Recently, large pharma has been on a biotech buying spree of sorts, paying well for promising companies. Such recent deals include GlaxoSmithKline purchase of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for $720 million and last month Takeda Pharmaceutical announced it will pay $8.8 billion for Millennium Pharmaceuticals...
Recently, large pharma has been on a biotech buying spree of sorts, paying well for promising companies. Such recent deals include GlaxoSmithKline purchase of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for $720 million and last month Takeda Pharmaceutical announced it will pay $8.8 billion for Millennium Pharmaceuticals.
Recovering from a tough year, Merck announced this week that it is seeking to purchase a mid-sized public biotech firm.
Last year, AstraZeneca picked up MedImmune for $15 billion. Smaller deals included Bristol-Myers acquisition of Adnexus for $430 million and Pfizer’s purchase of Coley Pharmaceutical for $160 million.
Late stage biotechs can enjoy the courtship of both larger drug developers looking to fuel their own dwindling pipelines and investors with less tolerance for risk. But for companies with treatments still in very early stages of development – whether in the lab or just entering the clinic – finding funding can be challenging.
“Our goal was to bring together an elite group of venture capital investors with fledgling, high quality biotechnology companies and larger company business development executives,” added Greenwood. “We have tried to bring together here all of the important ingredients for early stage success: the science, business and investment, capital formation and partnering opportunities.”
He went on to say that there was one other element that was critical to the success of the industry, “the right policy environment.”
Industry sponsors included Biogen Idec, Ernst & Young, MedImmune and Merck. Supporters also included BioWorld Today, Cubist Pharmaceutical, Gerson Lehrman Group and law firm Sonnenschien, Nath & Venture Technology Practice.