That was the key question at the Life sciences seminar held on Wednesday May 10th at the Amsterdam office of NautaDutilh. The event, organized in cooperation with the global law firm Covington & Burling and HollandBIO, was attended by approximately 80 investors, entrepreneurs, representatives of life science start- and scale-ups and other key players in this sector.
"We received good feedback from the attendees on this event with a great array of speakers from very different backgrounds. We feel that we have been able to put NautaDutilh fully back on the life sciences map with this signature event", Ruud Smits, partner at NautaDutilh and Life sciences specialist, said.
During a panel discussion, Galapagos CEO Onno van der Stolpe, Forbion Capital Partners principal Sander Slootweg, Citigroup's Kristian Humer, Covington & Burling partner Eric Blanchard and Ruud Smits dived into the differences between Life sciences opportunities in the Netherlands, the UK and the US.
A major contributor to those differences, according to Sander Slootweg, is that while there is enough money in the Netherlands for the start-up and seed phases, "there's too little money for the rest of the growth process. There is a lack of mezzanine funding." A conclusion that Kristian Humer agrees with. "There is less money, less expertise, less focus and US biotech funds come to EU to invest. Not to bring them to Euronext but to Nasdaq." But it also a different mind-set about the role universities should play, the panellists said. Making money at a Dutch university is more or less not done, while for US universities funding a biotech initiative with seed money is just private outsourcing." That US approach is such a smooth running operation", Eric Blanchard says.
When looking at the UK, the remarkable situation arises that, despite its rich biotech history and all ingredients to deliver successful businesses in place, there are neither biotech startups nor major financial activity around it. And any short term improvement is unlikely because of the Brexit.
But putting the differences in national landscapes aside, finding a good investor will always depend on that one thing, Galapagos CEO Onno van der Stolpe says. "They want to get to know you, as a person. The numbers and the plan are necessary, but they are just your ticket in. Building trust is key."