January 11, 2011
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Financing for biotech companies is a major part of my work at my real job, and the horrible financing environment in the wake of 2008’s financial crisis was one of the motivators for starting this blog. So, when nonprofit foundations started financing commercialization and product development in addition to their traditional role in financing research, it was a trend this blog was quick to note.
In the years since, a steady stream of new entrants have financed a wide variety of companies and projects, and the trend has appeared in the last year as a panel and the BIO convention and in E&Y’s annual biotech industry report.
Most recently, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation gave a $750,000 grant to a new Cystic Fibrosis Technology Initiative (CFTI) which was launched in partnership with the University of British Columbia and the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD). The CFTI will “assemble researchers and identify promising discoveries from across Canada to create new medicines” for CF. Selected promising new drug candidates will be developed with CDRD. The initial application deadline is January 28th and details are available here.
With MJFF and Gates leading the way and with a continued shortage of traditional development and commercialization funding for the industry, expect to see lots more of these deals in Canada and internationally in the coming year.
This post is the third in a series briefly outlining the biotech industry trends we’ve been following on the blog and noting some recent developments, plus directions for 2011.
As noted in the lead up to BIO, several of the conference sessions touch on industry trends we’ve been following here on the blog. One of these was today’s session entitled “A New Kind of Non-Dilutive Financing and Fundraising: Partnering With Not-for-Profits,” which we’ve been following as commercialization by non-profit foundations. Our coverage of that trend started off focusing on the financial advantages to companies of finding a commercialization-minded nonprofit partner, but recently we’ve also noted the strategic advantages of these collaborations.
At today’s panel discussion, Genzyme’s Jim Geraghty added to the list of strategic advantages of nonprofit collaborations, echoing Avila’s CEO Katrine Bosely who recently acknowledged the value of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s network of clinician and patient relationships. Geraghty added:
- access to scientific data that may have benefits to other company programs; and
- relationships with governments and other clinical gatekeepers.
Most interestingly, Geraghty noted the contribution that nonprofit collaborations can make to employee goodwill and morale in an environment where pursuit of profit can run contrary to the norms that attracted employees to the field of biotechnology in the first place.
The panel also drove home the enormous role the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has played in changing the way nonprofits think of their roles in health. Gina Rabinovich from the Foundation was unwavering in stating their commitment not to publications or conference output, but to measurable health outcomes like reducing infant mortality. Kudos.
April 28, 2010
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As I’m preparing for the BIO conference in Chicago next week, I’m excited to see that several of the biotech trends we’ve been following on the blog are showing up as conference sessions.
- Interested in “A New Kind of Non-Dilutive Financing and Fundraising: Partnering With Not-for-Profits”? Get an early start at our trends page on Commercialization by non-profit foundations!
- Does “Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Government Role” or “Transforming Health Care Through Personalized Medicine” catch your eye? Check out the stories we’ve highlighted on Comparative Effectiveness and Personalized Medicine!
- Of course, with the new regulatory pathway created by Health Reform legislation in the U.S., Follow-on Biologics (aka Biosimilars) are all the rage at BIO this year.
- and the whole thing kicks off with Lilly’s General Counsel speaking on “Leveraging IP to Spur Global Biotechnology Innovation, Investment and Jobs” – emphsizing the link between IP Constituencies and Global Innovation that we have been following for some time.
Stay tuned for news from these and other sessions as we hit the conference next week!