Anniversary event: 20th annual CEO & CFO Meeting held in Berlin
On 6 and 7 December, some 90 German biotech executives gathered at the Bristol Hotel on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm for the 20th annual CEO & CFO Meeting. The two-day anniversary get-together gave the participants an opportunity to discuss the current state of the industry and engage in networking. How the biotech industry has changed since the first meeting took place in Hamburg in 1998 was a common thread running through the programme, which included keynote talks, company presentations, a panel discussion, workshops and talks by topic sponsors.
Markus Enzelberger, Chief Scientific Officer of MorphoSys, gave a vivid account of his company’s 25-year history, which began as a service and technology platform provider before becoming a therapy developer with a full pipeline of developmental drugs. In another keynote talk, Christine Lang, co-founder and long-time Managing Director of Organobalance, described how the company developed from a SME to a subsidiary of Novozymes while also providing insights and tips on how to successfully make the transition from independence to being part of a big corporation.
Fresh in from Finland where he attended the world’s largest start-up conference Slush, Ingmar Hoerr shared his experiences and learnings as a member of the High-Level Group of Innovators, a body that advised the European Commission on establishing the European Innovation Council (EIC). Hoerr is Supervisory Board Chairman of CureVac, an RNA medicines company he co-founded and led as CEO for many years.
In a panel discussion, Peter Heinrich (BIO Deutschland’s Chairman of the Board and co-founder and long-time CEO of MediGene and current senior partner at Alira Health), Mario Jung (CEO of ChromoTek), Lutz Müller-Kurt (CEO of Analyticon Discovery), Niels Riedemann (CEO of InflaRx) and Olaf Wilhelm (CEO of Therawis) exchanged their experiences and thoughts on the topic of “The changing face of biotech entrepreneurship”. All panel members agreed that although business models in the industry have changed to some extent over the last 20 years, there still remains the problem of raising sufficient capital in Germany, making it necessary to look towards the United States and China. There was also consensus that seasoned executives should provide support and advice to younger colleagues, and that there is an urgent need to get more young innovators excited about entrepreneurship.
The event’s topic sponsors included Boehringer Ingelheim, Justin Stindt Consulting, Manufin and Qiagen. The CEO & CFO Meeting is held exclusively for managing directors, CEOs and CFOs of biotechnology companies. The annual meeting takes place in a different location each year.