Rhenovia at the crossroads of deals
An expert in biosimulation applied to medical research, the Alsatian company Rhenovia Pharma, with over six years in business and 22 employees, accelerates its commercial deployment in the United States. One year after the opening of its subsidiary Rhenovia Inc. in the Greater Boston area, the firm, which follows a business model mixed between services and research, is in the midst of negotiation with seven American pharmaceutical and biotech companies interested in its proprietary platform. “Discussions put us under pressure and take time, but we hope to execute three contracts during the first half of 2013,” said Serge Bischoff, CEO of Rhenovia Pharma. “The acceleration of our sales momentum in this market could allow us to double our turnover in the next two years.” Different areas of collaboration were discussed, ranging from the provision of pure services to co-marketing via the integration of the biosimulation platform in the sister company, as well as an agreement on exclusive strategic partnerships, which represent the most promising path. The typology of the first customers will be crucial for Rhenovia’s management, who will be able to adjust its development strategy based on the nature, geographic location, and number of collaborations it undertakes. One such adjustment variable would include the establishment of a research unit near the subsidiary for drug modeling and simulation, over the course of the next 18 to 24 months, in order to improve responsiveness to US customers. Separating its activities Founded by an international team, Rhenovia has a firmly established legitimacy in the United States since the CSO, Michel Baudry, the Platform Director, Jean-Marie Bouteiller, and the President of the Scientific Council, Theodore Berger, carry out their academic career there. Additionally, the French company, which is a member of the MassBio cluster through its subsidiary Rhenovia Inc., benefits from on-site support and access to the extensive network of the cluster, for an annual fee of $1,700. This first step across the Atlantic represents an important milestone in a wider ambition, namely that of making Rhenovia Inc. a drug development company for big pharmaceutical firms. The parent company has a portfolio of five products whose lead compound, RHEDAR©, is a phase II candidate formerly owned by Novartis, which has been reapplied for treating Huntington’s disease and which the company hopes to “out-license” to an industrial company. “We are moving towards a separation of our services and drug discovery activities in order to better develop each branch,” explains Serge Bischoff. “We shall begin over the next five years by implementing several business units in the United States, which shall include one in drug discovery under the name of Rhenovia Inc.” In order to finance this reorganization and gain visibility, the company is relying on the contribution of external funds. “We are seeking €2.5 million which we hope to obtain in a diversified manner by an entry of capital, but also through other contributions such as profit-sharing with managers and employees, equity loans, banks or even investors who are less intrusive when it comes to collecting royalties on revenue. In any case, we want to partner with kind-hearted investors.” In a later phase, the capital generated by Rhenovia Inc. could be open to American venture capitalists. A good way to consolidate the company’s brands across the Atlantic.
A fresh perspective on Rhenovia Pharma, by Peter Abair, Director of Economic Development and international affairs for MassBio
Rhenovia Pharma has quickly joined our cluster. After oncology, diseases of the central nervous system, which are a focal point of Rhenovia, represent the second area of health expertise of a number of companies in Massachusetts. At our first meeting in June, 2012, the managers indicated their desire to get in contact with the local biotech industry. This wish has been granted with the company’s participation in several meetings held locally each year. On the same note, we distribute their press releases to all of our members. We may later accompany the management team on a road show or establish a laboratory should the need arise. To progress quickly in the territory, however, Rhenovia cannot be content with just Massachusetts alone. Rhenovia must have a global vision of its markets in order to fuel its international expansion.
Source: Biotech Finances – Special Issue 3, 2013
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