Member of BII’s Women’s Health Innovation Panel, Laetitia Schwab, joined the Venture Capital firm SR One, based in their London office, in early 2022. Since then, she has been deep-diving into the white space of women’s health to identify investment opportunities for SR One and to discover how SR One can play a role in this space.
We talked with Laetitia Schwab about her background, work, and role on the BII Women’s Health Innovation Panel.
What was your way into the women’s health space?
Originally, my background is in Clinical Neuroscience. After finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge working on Huntington’s disease, I joined the clinical development team at Orchard Therapeutics developing gene therapies for rare diseases. I then decided to move into the biotech VC space to work with experienced scientists and entrepreneurs on innovative science across therapeutic areas and technologies. Since joining SR One, I have been working with the team on a white space initiative focusing on areas of science with clear unmet needs and therapeutic opportunities. Women’s health is an area where we see a high unmet need and a broad population impact.
What do you wish you accomplish on the BII Women’s Health Innovation Panel?
Speaking to experts in the women’s health space, I was introduced to BII, which is doing a fantastic job bringing focus to this area. There are still only a limited number of therapeutics start-ups in women’s health, and it is important to connect them with the right experts from very early on. That’s where the panel will play an important role, and I believe I can bring an investor perspective to the table and help start-ups shape their pitch and business plan. SR One invests in early-stage biotech companies working across many different therapeutic indications. Hence, I also see us connecting start-ups with experts who work in a space that has applicability to women’s health, such as inflammation which is relevant in endometriosis. Eventually, we may use our investor network to financially support start-ups incubated at the BII.
What are some of the exits that have put women’s health on the radar with VCs?
There has been a recent increase in interest from VCs in the women’s health space. Some of this has been driven by M&A activities we have seen in the past few years, including Forendo Pharma acquired by Organon, KaNDy Therapeutics acquired by Bayer, and Astellas Pharma acquired by Ogeda. These examples have resulted in more attention from investors and a greater interest from pharmaceutical companies in collaborating with start-ups and co-developing products earlier in development.
What are your key takeaways from your entry into the women’s health space?
Women’s health remains an under-resourced and under-invested area despite the increasing interest. Historically, the lack of investment has partially resulted from a limited biological understanding of the root causes of many women’s health conditions, leading to slow innovation. Understanding basic biology is crucial, so we must help academics and entrepreneurs innovate to turn their discoveries into medicines. That’s why BII is such a critical initiative.
About SR One
SR One Capital Management is a transatlantic biotech venture capital firm that seeks to partner with who we believe to be top entrepreneurs, scientists and investment partners in an effort to build elite biotechnology companies. SR One’s mission is to translate innovative technologies into potential next-generation medicines that benefit patients with significant unmet medical needs. SR One has offices in San Francisco, CA and London, UK. For more information, please visit www.srone.com.