This year’s Biotech and Money / Medtech and Money World Congress brought together biotech companies and investors from across the world for the 4th annual event. As well as pitches and workshops, the event hosted a number of interesting discussions about the current state of the biotech sector. AI was a hot topic at both the keynote panel: ‘US-Euro transatlantic value creation and investment’ and the interview with Maclaren Applied Technologies’ chief Medical officer, Adam Hill: ‘In conversation with…The intersection of data-driven products and healthcare’.

In another of the ‘In conversation with’ sessions, CEO’s of three biotech companies who have all led their companies through funding rounds, mergers and expansion came together to discuss the challenges of building biotech companies with scale. Darrin Disley, CEO of Horizon, emphasised the importance of reinvestment of revenue to drive continued innovation in spite of the pressures for profit and shareholder dividends. They also discussed the pros and cons of partnerships with big pharma and the differing demands of US and European investors. Whilst US investors seemed to have a higher appetite for risk they were also less inclined to favour the hybrid model.

Brexit uncertainty remained a focus of many conversations, especially as the UK enters phase 2 of the negotiation process. The regulatory framework, innovation and collaboration seemed to be the most important considerations for investors, with 38% of respondents to the B&M survey predicting that Brexit will have an impact on their investment strategy in the future. One investor commented “If Brexit leads to a large shift in academic activity or a large shift in funding activity for basic research, then that is something you will see reflected back in the number of exciting biotech companies being created”. It was not all doom and gloom, however, as just as many investors (38%) did not expect Brexit to have any impact on their investment decisions.

One of the most important factors affecting investment decisions was a strong leadership team. 80% of those surveyed said that it was their deciding factor: “There’s a simple rule in venture capital: a [poor] management team will destroy a great asset, but a great management team will actually make a [poor] asset work or they will simply change course but in order to do that, you also need to have acquired some capital. It’s difficult to get good management without getting enough capital in,” said one attendee. Innovative, differentiated technologies, intellectual property protection, and regulatory risk were also significant considerations.

Another interesting point made by investors, and one constantly emphasised here at Sciad, was the importance of a pitch tailored to your audience. One interviewee commented “A lot of people just go for death by PowerPoint, they don’t do enough research about who they are pitching to and what their knowledge is.” 85% of survey respondents thought that less than half the companies they saw presented well. “Fundamentally, [there needs to be] more clarity about what you’re trying to do and why, and what money you need,” added another interviewee.

This year’s conference demonstrated that the biotech industry is clearly not short of developments, with many start-ups proffering exciting new technologies and on the hunt for investment. Investors seemed willing to listen and share their advice to continue the growth of this thriving industry, we are looking forward to seeing what interesting collaborations and progress 2018 will bring. To find out more about future Biotech and Money events click here.

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Photo of Sarah Harrison