21 October 2022
EUBIO22: Key Takeaways
By Genevieve Wilson
Last week my colleague Lucy Featherstone and I attended EUBIO22, hosted by Endpoints News at Silicon Valley Bank’s offices in London. Against the backdrop of volatile economic and political conditions in the UK and globally, it came at an opportune time to take stock and discuss how the biotech sector can best find solutions to weather the storm.
Entitled ‘The biopharma view from the continent’, EUBIO22 saw a mix of biotech CEOs and VC professionals from both sides of the Atlantic offer their insights into how the industry might best respond to the current challenges.
The afternoon’s fundraising panel provided a frank assessment of the nervous market, and the crowded biotech space. Investment companies are keen to see companies with a solid runway until 2024, causing them to look for sources of non-dilutive capital. Despite the instability at a macro level and a challenging market for stock exchange listings, the UK continues to draw in investors into high-quality companies. Reasons for this were attributed to the strength of talent, pro-innovation legislation and strong connections with other regulatory bodies, such as the EMA. Moderator John Carroll noted, alongside the panellists, that good data and a good product will continue to attract capital.
The fireside chat with Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, provided a fascinating insight into her serendipitous route into oncology. It was great to peer ‘behind the curtain’ into the oncology function at AstraZeneca and its growth from several hundred to thousands. A story about being coaxed down an intimidating ski slope made for a brilliant analogy of the mentorship she has received, and how it inspired her to push her team to the boundaries of what they think they can achieve. Susan also noted that we are at a tipping point in the transformation of cancer treatments, with emerging technologies enabling the genetic engineering and reprogramming of cells as drugs, and the role of diagnosis becoming increasingly vital.
A final panel focussed on navigating capital headwinds and was moderated by SVB’s Nooman Haque. This provided a moment for reflection on the changing nature of fundraising, with biotech as an asset class becoming more mature – this includes increased sophistication amongst VCs and investors, with a greater number of specialists and a recognition of the value on offer.
Overall, despite the global economic challenges, the panellists and attendees remained hopeful for the future of the biotech sector, focusing on solutions for surviving the economic downturn while recognising that such challenges are cyclical and that, no matter what, the industry always finds a way to adapt and persevere.