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Past Meetings

October 25, 2016

WHERE BIOTECH MEETS PHARMA

This month’s meeting featured 3 panellists who shared their expertise on a very engaging subject: How is Biotech Different from Pharma and Why is it an Important Part of the Life Sciences Sector in Quebec? The first speaker was Frank Béraud, CEO of Montréal InVivo, an economic development organization dedicated to the creation of a business environment that fosters innovation and growth of companies in the life sciences and health technologies (LSHT) sector. Frank started his presentation by saying he was here to do a ‘cheerleader’s speech’and added that most of the people attending this evening were from pharma although probably not realizing being part of something much bigger.

The Life Sciences and Health Technologies sector is currently experiencing a strong growth and demand mainly due to 4 key drivers:

  • Aging of the population (acute disease becoming chronic disease)
  • Emerging markets becoming more attention-grabbing from a revenue perspective
  • All of us are being potential future patients
  • Strong desire to reduce health cost

Pharmaceuticals, medical devices, Biotech, Health IT and natural products are the main components of our industry, most of it starts from research which is a pivotal element of our value chain. Without good and strong research, innovative products are not able to be launched into the market and consequently will not meet our ultimate goal which is to reach the patients’ needs.

Life Sciences and Health Technologies is responsible for 56,000 jobs in Québec which includes 30,000 directly linked to the industry and 25,000 who are considered as supportive functions. Having that many employment opportunities is comparable to the Air space sector. Frank went on to add that 80% of these jobs are located in the greater Montreal area which translates into a strong economic contributor for the region. One thing that Frank pointed out was the fact that Montreal ranked 1st for lowest operations cost in terms of research and development. The average salary is 70k, which is 60% above all other industries. The pharmaceutical research model environment has changed over the years and has brought new partnerships/entities between biotech and pharmaceutical companies. ILKOS Therapeutics and DALCOR are 2 examples that were given by Frank.

The second speaker was Yves Rosconi, Former President and CEO of Theratechnologies with more than 25 years’ experience as an executive in pharma and nowadays completely fascinated with the biotechnology sector. The biotech industry should be seen by many of you as an opportunity for a great career and the chance to build equity.

Yves shared with the audience some of the major pillars from the biotech‘s world in comparison to the well-known cores from the pharma industry.

Biotech’s Business model:

  • Early stages (phase I-II) of molecules development, the commercialisation is meant as an exit strategy
  • Biotech companies are not in for the long run, most of the time they stay in business for less than 5 years
  • Small organisations that can quickly change their strategy; It works or it does not
  • Typically biotech companies only have one or two compounds in development
  • Scarce financial resources and at ease with operating at a loss
  • Very limited commercial abilities- these will be put forward once approval is given by regulatory or when rights are sold to a pharmaceutical company
  • Value creation is their primary goal – not the revenues – and every activity has the purpose of value creation
  • You need that entrepreneur spirit and to do what needs to be done regardless of the job description

Yves ended his presentation by sharing a very interesting anecdote regarding the importance of Biotech in the 21st century:

  • In the 1980’s 20% of BMS worldwide revenue was coming from outside of their research and development compared to 2010 where it jumped to 80% of their revenue

The biotech industry is the fuel for pharmaceutical companies to exist.

Our third speaker of the evening was Radu Pislariu, President and CEO of Laurent Pharmaceuticals, who is an entrepreneur at heart although has spent a good part of his career in venture. Just recently, Radu left the venture capital world to lead his own company. Radu’s presentation focused on what needs to be done and focused on to be financially successful in the biotech industry. The various types of investors were highlighted along the development path of a compound.

Radu shared with the audience the investor’s perspectives when looking at investing into a biotech:

  • Investors are not taking into account the company’s revenues when exploring the idea of investment
  • Venture capital investors are risk takers, they understand the risk, they see the overall potential
  • They can only choose to invest in a small number of select companies so competition for funding is strong
  • Invest on highly experienced managerial/R&D/entrepreneurial team
  • Prefer to invest in a proven technology
  • Compounds that have strong patents
  • A clear exit strategy be it acquisition, licensing, merging or selling the company just to name a few

At the end of the evening, there was a short question and answer period, during which the speakers provided the following comments:

For every dollar invested from Venture Capital, what is expected in terms of an exit lever?

  • The rule of the industry is usually an investment return of 3 to 5 times at least. For every 10 companies where money is invested, 50% of those companies will not succeed, 30% of companies will be able to reimburse the investment and only 20% will succeed. SKY is the limit!!

What suggestions and recommendations would you give people who want to find their way into the Life Sciences industry?

  • In terms of opportunities, the Data – Science’s sector is a very interesting one, mainly because of the bridge from the biology knowledge to the data facts.
  • Know what you are passionate about, find that environment where you will be happy and ask yourself how much money you want to make short-mid and long term .

The final words from the panellists: If we want to create more wealth in the Life Sciences industry, there has to be partnership/associations between the marketers/commercialese’s experts and the researchers, without it, the Life Sciences industry will not be able to bring into market innovative and revolutionary drugs to help patients.


 

Jo-Ann Charland
Training Consultant and Medical Writer
Email: JoAnn.Charland1@gmail.com
Cell: 438-998-0498
Pharma411

Upcoming meeting

January 22, 2019

The Future of Cannabis in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Dinner Meeting
Cocktails: 5:30 p.m.
Dinner: 6:15 p.m.
Panel Discussion: 7:00 p.m.

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