Back in January this year, Horton International UK, published its 2019 report on the European Life Sciences Market. The report stated that, “There was a belief that investment into the sector is likely to remain healthy and potentially grow, over the coming 12 months”. The optimism was, however, tempered by the uncertainties of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, with major concerns coming from the academic research community and the talent managers who were both worried about the movement of people.
The LSX World Congress (formerly Biotech and Money), held in London on 5th/6th February provided an ideal opportunity to feel the pulse of the industry and to speak to a number of the industry’s opinion leaders.
LSX World Congress 2019
Make no mistake: this is a serious conference. Attended by companies from the earliest of start-ups through to listed and well-funded Biotechs, from across Europe. The investment community were also present in force, with the majority of the major European VC houses having a presence over the two days. Having spoken to numerous people throughout the congress, my key take-aways are as follows:
1. Continued appetite for Biotech
Building on last years’ congress, we again saw a range of investors, from Angel and Seed funds through to the global VCs. The sweet-spot for the conference appeared to be for the companies who were seeking to raise funds in the £2-10 million range. Having said that, however, there were plenty of well-funded companies who were keen to keep the sector up to date with their latest developments.
2. Therapeutic focus
The investors were again attracted to immune-oncology companies, though it did appear that the niche players within the arena were gaining attention. Medtech and point-of-care Diagnostics also appeared to be on the “hot topic” list with an increasing number of anti-microbial companies present.
3. The B-word
For sure, Brexit was never too far from everyone’s lips. However, it is probably fair to say, that for the investors present at LSX, the main concern was about good science that could be commercialised. As one well-known VC said to me, “I can understand that the academics are worried about Brexit, but as far as I am concerned, a good investment is a good investment, regardless of the geography”.
4. The challenge of recruiting the best people
The same VC confided to me that one of their greatest concerns was their ability to attract high quality teams into their portfolio companies. It is very clear that for a venture backed company to succeed, there are three minimum requirements:
a. An excellent and differentiable science or technology platform that offers a commercial opportunity
b. A source of funding that enables the organisation to reach its commercial goal
c. The management team to deliver that goal
As obvious as it sounds, an organisation is only as good as the people it employs. That’s why I spend so much time discussing the importance of investing the time and money into the process of building out those high performing teams.
Written by Paul Edwards, Managing Partner, Global Healthcare at Horton International.