Forum spurs global collaboration
In collaboration with BioPharm America, the MassBio Investors Forum brought together more than 900 biotech, pharma and financial leaders from across the globe to partner with and invest in the Commonwealth’s most innovative companies.
Now in its third year, BioPharm America has grown to become a central hub for U.S. and international life science firms to develop the partnerships that lead to tomorrow’s medical innovations. The MassBio Investors Forum, in its 12th year, continues to be New England’s largest biotechnology investment meeting. The first-time combined event – deemed North America’s premiere partnering conference – created a unique, high-powered business exchange uniting international and world-class life sciences companies for three days at the Marriot Boston Copley Place.
“This year, we were pleased to partner with MassBio as they folded their Investors Forum into BioPharm America,” said EBD Group, Inc. President Carola Schropp. “The result was an even more dynamic event, further uniting the international biotech partnering and financial communities to help them raise capital, form licensing agreements or enter into codevelopment deals.”
The event, held Sept. 15-17, challenged attendees to delve into key issues, new business approaches and policy trends underlying strategic decision making. Topics included the new healthcare ecosystem, access to innovation, personalized medicine and bridging the gap between science and commercial success. Isaac Kohane, Henderson Professor of Pediatrics and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School delivered the opening keynote address. Daphne Zohar, founder of PureTech Ventures; Robert Langer, Institute Professor at MIT; Gary Neil, corporate vice president of Johnson & Johnson; Mary Tanner, managing director of Peter J. Solomon Company; and Patrick Vallance, head of medicines discovery and development at GlaxoSimthKline served on the keynote panel, discussing the hidden factors that can either cement a partnering deal or destroy it.
MassBio’s panel discussions addressed financing innovation, global collaborative business models, emerging financial models for Phase I/II assets, and strategic investments and alliances. Panelists discussed the dual pressure of increasing drug development costs and the decreased availability of capital, which is forcing companies to be more resourceful.
“When the money is flowing, people don’t act as innovatively,” said Alan Crane, general partner of Polaris Venture Partners. “Right now, we’re finding ways to create value without massive infusions of equity. Looking at the technology that’s already available and sourcing your capital creatively is absolutely critical.”
“The traditional model has evolved,” said Ivan Gergel, Endo Pharmaceuticals Executive VP, R&D. “Ten to 15 years ago, we were relying more on the individual. Today, with Internet and globalization, you can do a lot more for a lot less.”
“There’s been a transformation from brick and mortar companies to virtual collaboration,” agreed Alain Stricker-Krongrad, CSO of Charles River Laboratories.
The panelists also discussed the power of collaboration among industry, academia and philanthropic organizations as a means to reduce expenditure and extend cash.
“The key to success for long-term collaboration is if both partners believe that only by working together can they achieve something much greater than working alone,” said Uwe Schoenbeck, Pfizer CSO of Worldwide R&D and External R&D Innovation.
“It has to be trust-based,” said Gergel. “Problems in the past emerged when companies expected their partners to do it all. Each side has to commit to sharing the risk.”
The three-day event concluded with a Translational Medicine Day, exploring the success and challenges of early stage partnerships. MassBio Chief Business Officer Imran Nasrullah served as moderator to two panels, Bridging the Innovation Gap: Success Stories – which explored the success of three academic investigators who launched companies – and From Idea to Company: Fundamental Building Blocks – which outlined the nuts and bolts of successfully transferring technology out of the laboratories and into start-ups.