There is a fairly simple answer. First, I’m looking for big ideas among private biotechs that qualify for a review, a swing for the fences. I am drawn to people who are willing to gamble part of their life on new drug ideas, and the stakes are high in that regard. Drug development is long and difficult, and you could easily bet 10 years or more of your life on something. So go big or go home if you don’t plan on doing something transformative.
I want a team leading these projects that has the talent, the vigor and the know-how to make it happen. Track record is key and past failures can be a big plus – depending on how it’s been.
People are always more important than money. It’s a mantra of mine that always deserves a quick nod in any biotech group. But ensuring that a company has enough profit to move on to proof of concept, and beyond, is also key to the selection process.
Still, below you’ll find companies that raised a few million to start with, and biotech that seem to have found the key to Fort Knox. So it’s variable.
And then there is the noise factor. I want to pick companies that can be widely recognized for their success – or make a hell of a splash if they fail. None of these companies below will make it to an anonymous midnight funeral if they fail to achieve victory. They will make noise throughout the global industry, and we can all learn from them.
This year, with a pandemic raging around the world, I wanted to focus more on culture than on particular assets. Each of these biotechnologies sorts out the R&D work, but I want to let the leaders think more about the most important points of starting a business than about the specific objectives of the program. Starting a business these days requires new ingenuity and it’s important to share these points with everyone.
There are other trends that you will see reflected in the stories below. The intersection of biotechnology and Big Pharma sometimes takes on a different tone, with the aim of bringing together large networks of experts to tackle complex problems. And the influx of billions of dollars in new investment capital is enabling a new breed of startups to conspire to spawn transformative therapies. It is not cheap and success is not guaranteed. But it’s still fascinating.
Let me summarize here by noting that the biggest health crisis in 100 years has helped make biotechnology the place to be, luckily for all of us. These companies are not wasting this opportunity. And that deserves a special shout on its own.
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