Successful Biotech Finance Summit held in Berlin
This year’s annual meeting of biotech finance experts took place on 14 July in Berlin. It was the first ever to be held in summer, which enabled the summit’s participants to enjoy the beautiful weather while attending an open-air programme on Gendarmenmarkt the evening before the event. On the following day, more than 80 CFOs and finance experts convened to discuss current developments in the sector and the financing environment for innovation in Germany. Heike Balzer, co-head of the Working Group on Finance and Taxation, and Dirk Honold, the other head of the working group, moderated the event.
The day kicked off with a panel discussion on the biotech ecosystem in which Anna Christmann (start-up representative of the BMWK and Bundestag member for Alliance 90/The Greens), Thomas Jarzombek (Bundestag member for the CDU) and Maximilian Mordhorst (Bundestag member for the FDP) examined the current financing challenges for young growth companies. By the end of the year, the German government will set the course for the implementation of the improvements foreseen in the coalition agreement that pertain to the financing environment for start-ups and tech companies.
Jens Holstein, CFO of BioNTech, spoke about the company’s transformation. BioNTech’s success, he said, offered many opportunities to further develop the company, but there were also plenty of challenges to overcome on the road forward. He presented the company’s plans for further development and outlined the prospects for the next generation of immunotherapies.
Enno Spillner, CFO of Evotec, highlighted the opportunities that collaboration offers. Evotec’s platforms for collaboration in different areas such as R&D, precision medicine, drug design and others, coupled with the company’s strategic and financial investments, help its partners to achieve their targets faster. Evotec has invested approximately €130 million over the last six years, in a total of 29 joint ventures and alliances. Seven programmes are already in clinical phases, with more to follow in the coming months.
Looking at the history of public funding for therapeutics development, Thomas Taapken, CFO of InflaRx, showed that timely, targeted support is the way to go, especially in the coronavirus pandemic. Support for therapeutics development, he pointed out, initially took a back seat to developing a vaccine and addressing other crisis issues.
The event’s sponsors, KPMG and Bryan, Garnier & Co., also made valuable contributions to the programme. Anette von Witzleben from KPMG explained to attendees how important a financial assessment of one’s portfolio is when it comes to negotiating licenses. This, she said, lays the groundwork for achieving fair risk sharing and fair licensing terms in negotiations. The programme concluded with a talk on IPO opportunities by Pierre Kiecolt-Wahl and Dylan van Haaften, both from Bryan, Garnier & Co. They said that the U.S. stock market has seen huge investments in biotechnology over the past two years and in early 2022 and that now those investments need, in their view, to be “processed” before new sizeable investments can be made in the industry.
The event was also supported by Deutsche Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Miltenyi Biotec and Deutsche Börse.