August 18, 2009
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We have new details about the LOM-BioQuest joint venture that was announced last week. The WSJ article about the JV emphasized the goals of supporting good science and expanding the two companies’ presence in the life sciences market.
I spoke to the Director of LOM BioQuest, Garrett Herman, and one of his associates yesterday about their vision for the joint venture. They also shared with me the letter they sent announcing the JV (pdf). Here are the highlights of the letter and our conversation:
- They are taking a broad view of “life sciences” and plan to have the JV be the intake point for all their new projects in the space.
- They want to take whatever approach will maximize the likelihood of good science succeeding and are willing to engage shareholders as well as management and boards.
- Although the JV does not have any current employees, it does have “the full attention of both firms.”
- For now, interested parties should contact the principals in the letter.
- The plan is to nurture a few dramatic successes that will allow them to have an in-house source (or a regular stable) of capital to lead future deals, and a revived Canadian investor ecosystem to syndicate to.
I look forward to seeing LOM-BioQuest’s private sector approach to combining operating and financial advisory services, which should complement analogous efforts at NRC-IRAP and MaRS Innovation…
August 12, 2009
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This week has seen a continued upswing for biotech and other health industry companies in the U.S. (with two IPOs) and in Canada (with great VC news and the pending appointment of an administrator for the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund):
In the U.S.
Here in Canada
- Enobia Pharma, whose lead (Phase II) product is a human recombinant enzyme for hormone replacement in hypophosphatasia patients, raised $50 million in their third venture round this week. Remember the grim report on Canada’s VC numbers last week? Well, between this Enobia deal plus Allostera’s $17 million round in July, Canadian healthcare companies are on-track to match 2008 levels (no great shakes, but still better than other sectors were faring at the end of Q2).
- In other interesting news, investment firm LOM Bancorp and BioQuest Capital Corp., a biotechnology developer, announced a new joint venture this week. More to come on this one as we learn more about the goals, structure and funding, but this will be good for Canadian biotech.
- We also hear that the Ontario Emerging Technology Fund launch will really get moving with the engagement of a fund administrator, as the Province’s RFP process wraps up in the next couple of weeks.
In the pipeline
With personalized medicine seeing increasing validation as a clinical strategy, genomics technology will be key. News this week from Helicos Biosciences that an individual’s complete genome was sequenced in one month for just $50k in consumables is an important marker (har) on the road to regular full-genome scans as part of our medical toolkit.
July 30, 2009
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The New York Times’ DealBook blog reports that regulatory concerns about Merck’s purchase of Schering-Plough, presumably Schering’s Intervet animal health subsidiary, required Merck to divest its stake in Merial – its animal health JV with sanofi-aventis. Sanofi is kindly obliging, for $4 billion.
Interestingly (given DealBook’s reporting that the JV divestiture is antitrust-driven), Merck, sanofi and Schering also entered into a call option agreement (pdf), giving sanofi-aventis the option to combine Intervet with Merial following the Merck-Schering merger to form a new animal health joint venture with post-merger Merck.
The blurb on Merial Canada, which has what appears to be a small presence in Baie D’urfé Québec, is available for your viewing pleasure after the jump…
June 4, 2009
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At the RIC/OCETA talk I participated in last month, one of the trends in deal-making that I mentioned was novel structures. At the time, examples included option deals and new ways to split rights and territories.
More recently, we’ve seen GSK and Pfizer form a joint venture to develop HIV treatments, and two more interesting ideas came up this week:
- Index Ventures, a VC firm, is forming a joint venture with Amunix Inc., a biotech company. The idea is, according to the WSJ Venture Capital Dispatch blog, to focus entirely on drug development, not research, and advance three candidates quickly through Phase I proof-of-concept.
- AstraZeneca and Merck are teaming up for what FierceBiotech calls an “unusual, early-stage clinical program” where each company is contributing an experimental cancer drug candidate that, in combination, should attack complementary pathways. From the joint press release:
Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca and Merck will work together to evaluate co-administration of the compounds in a Phase I clinical trial for the treatment of solid cancer tumors. All development costs will be shared jointly. Following the Phase I trial, the companies will consider opportunities for further clinical development.
May 27, 2009
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The In Vivo Blog has a really interesting post by Roger Longman discussing what they view as the groundbreaking and innovative aspects of GSK and Pfizer’s HIV joint venture, announced just over a month ago.
The gist is:
- The venture allows flexibility and accountability in an R&D operation with pharma-scale resources; and
- The JV has its own equity that it can use to reward employees directly and to raise new funds.
IVB’s bottom line: “whether it works or not, the drug industry should be paying close attention to this deal.”
My bottom line: I certainly hope it works, because it seems like it would be a bear to unwind.