Schambye: "The life science ecosystem has never been stronger" - BioInnovation Institute

Schambye: “The life science ecosystem has never been stronger”

Schambye: “The life science ecosystem has never been stronger”

Both Denmark and Sweden recently presented new national life science strategies to further strengthen an already growing industry sector in the two countries. But how to leverage positions of strength to benefit healthcare, patients, sustainability and the life science industry overall?

According to Hans Schambye, Chairman of Dansk Biotek and CEO of Galecto, Inc and member of BioInnovation Institute’s board, the life science ecosystem plays a crucial part and is more robust than ever before. This notion is supported by a new analysis from Torreya, one of the largest investment banks in life science, placing Denmark in a fourth spot based on the total value share of the global market in the field.

“There is a positive development in all layers of the life science ecosystem. The establishment of BII has truly benefitted the early-stage start-ups and the entrepreneurial scientists at the universities. They have a better chance to translate their research ideas into products and thus see a concrete benefit of their science. Additionally, a large group of semi-mature life science companies raise a lot of funds and grow quite rapidly. Lastly, well-established companies such as Genmab and Ascendis Pharma transitioned into being companies in the absolute world elite based on market value,” says Hans Schambye.

He further adds that Denmark’s big pharma companies led by Novo Nordisk continuously create a talented pool of highly skilled and educated people, who can be recruited by the smaller life science companies.

Changed approach

Ten years ago, it was very hard for early-stage European and especially Danish life science companies to raise big amounts of capital. Hence, they were forced to run very minimalistic programs with conservative milestones and rely on future pipette size financings that could help them reach their next goal. This was far from optimal and led to serious delays or bankruptcy.

“I have preached for many years that you can never raise money enough as a life science company. Thus, it is great to now see semi-mature life science companies raise 50M euros Series A investment rounds. You never saw this ten years ago,” says Hans Schambye.

The venture capitalists have also gotten more positive competition as private investors now offer an alternative to raising a large amount of money – either in private rounds or on the smaller, Nordic stock exchanges. Just recently, Synklino, a company taking part in BII’s Creation House program, accelerated its entrepreneurial journey by raising 14M euros. A significant portion of the capital came from 70 private investors, and the Chairman of Dansk Biotek emphasizes that this is a success story for the life science ecosystem.

“Venture capitalists claim to fame has always been that they have a deep professional insight and experience in building companies. And they do a great job, but it is positive to see a company like Synklino find its way and bring private investors on board. Investors who might not have a vast knowledge about life science, but on the other hand, has a huge network and knowledge about how to run innovative companies.”

Inspiration from other innovation hubs

Even though the life science ecosystem is well-positioned, there is always room for improvement. Based on Hans Schambye’s experiences from the US, both through studying at Stanford University and the listing of Galecto, Inc on Nasdaq, especially one thing stands out.

“All of the pharma giants have placed an R&D department around the world-class universities in Boston. If you could also get more of those companies to place such departments in the Medicon Valley area, that would benefit the whole life science ecosystem and create even tighter mutual bonds between academia and industry. Nevertheless, even Boston doesn’t have an institution quite as great as BII, which is unique since a lot of capital is allocated for training life science entrepreneurs and helping them bring their research ideas to market,” he ends.

Register for Hans Schambye’s Talk at the Square at BII (9 December)

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