Part 2: The Golden Triangle




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Video title: Part 2: The Golden Triangle
Released on: August 11, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
  • Transcript
  • Participants
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In June 2009 ERBI, OBN and LBN announced an escalation in their collaborative efforts, joining together to represent the three UK regions as a single body on the international scene. This was not a merger of the three organisations involved, simply a more formalised means to collaborate. At BIO 2009 the CEO’s of all three organisations joined us to discuss bringing the three major lifescience and healthcare networking groups of the Greater South East of England together to form a super cluster and to explain how this provides potential international partners and investors with a simple access route to the opportunities in each of the regions.
The golden triangle is involved in strengthening the financial operations of biotech.
Fintan Walton:
So when we think about that Harriet, the concept that's of very important thing that Tonymentioned there which is money and financing, isn't it an important also for The Golden Triangle to be successful that is not just a matter of cooperation, coordinating in a biotech level, it's at a financing level as well it's, because lot of the companies in each of those, each of your regions are financed by both obviously VC's the normal VC organizations some of them are based in locally and different parts of your regions. But equally important you've got a business agents who tend to work operate locally as well. So is part of The Golden Triangle concept to try and pull together and strengthen and it definitely needs strengthening the financing operations for biotech?
Harriet Fear:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean when I recently became the CEO of ERBI three months ago and frankly I have been quite surprised at the -- the difficulty that the company is facing at the moment some fairly well known names and I think one of the compelling reasons for us doing some of the compelling offer that we have got is that situated within each of our regions we have that community we talked about you know philanthropic people, business angels, venture capitalists. We have people who are still prepared you know deals are still being done it's not all doom and gloom and we have --
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Harriet Fear:
We have some examples we could argue that being at the right product in the right market ever low with the money is just how much time do you have to spend to find it.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Harriet Fear:
And we've all got examples of way deals are still being done. So I wouldn't want to paint a particular a gloomy picture of the UK it's no -- it's no different to the other parts of the globe but in terms of what our Golden Triangle has to offer we've got you know amazing individuals and organizations, the financial centre of London obviously is a -- is a you know with it's (indiscernable) it's got still is you know one of the financial capitals of the world.
Fintan Walton:
Indeed.
Harriet Fear:
I think again for coming back to us I mean Oxford and Cambridge with the best one in the world we will never have a financial centre like London, so that's what partly what London brings to the dynamic.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Harriet Fear:
Then coupled with us now drug discovery, pipeline and products in all it estimates it seems to us to make more sense to do not changing period.
The plans to extension of concept by Group purchasing schemes.
Fintan Walton:
Right. yeah, okay and going back to the other concept that you have Jonwhich is, we've talked about financing which obviously is physically important?
Jon Rees:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
But I think also have you can streamline the cost effectiveness of running a biotech company and so forth. So do you have plans to extend the concept that you have which is a purchasing, group purchasing of schemes means by which your member organizations can get access to service, goods and services at a better price, is that part of their concept?
Jon Rees:
Yeah. I think sure as an organization we are actively pursuing that, on the other side of the financing side getting cash in (indiscernable) office. I think leveraging The Golden Triangle brand to get UK companies in front of US Venture capitalists and those would be companies both from Oxford, Cambridge and London. We are already talking to a potential partner about doing that and in reverse we can do that. We can -- we can bring US companies to the UK and they can get in front of some of our VC's. So I think the -- the idea of The Golden Triangle is already yielding results in closer working not just between the three of us but between The Golden Triangle companies and --
Fintan Walton:
Other ones
Jon Rees:
Super coasters in the US.
The golden triangle is involved in cooperation and coordination around successfully getting products through clinical trials.
Fintan Walton:
Right, okay. Key component to all of this as well is all the companies are involved in obviously drug discovery and technology development but also clinical trials and so forth. So those the other components to success I suppose to a biotech company is successfully getting products through clinical trials.
Tony Jones:
Indeed.
Fintan Walton:
And a key to that obviously is knowledge about clinical trials, a right trial to do in one of the big problems in biotech companies encounter is that often they pursuit clinical trials which weren't appropriate. So is there another component here to The Golden Triangle which is the cooperation on a clinical in a clinical basis. Is one of the risks it's one of the inherent risks of the biotech company is it's clinical success with clinical trials?
Tony Jones:
Absolutely.
Fintan Walton:
So is there a room within The Golden Triangle for better cooperation, coordination around that, is that possible?
Tony Jones:
Well I think it's, it's something that fits very much with the UK National Agendas and how do we make the NHS a better place to do clinical trials and recruit patients quicker and we are seeing some of the impacts of those changes already being beneficial but I think it comes back to knowledge sharing and experience and within The Golden Triangle right from pharma and regulatory and commercialization of the product in some of the best minds in the business are in The Golden Triangle.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
I think the more we can encourage on them is to be talking to each other.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
Then you will save those Blind Alley trials or even the ones that aren't Quite the way the pharma company would have done them and therefore it doesn't make such a good licensing or M&A deal.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tony Jones:
And I think it is about really Raising the Bar on what do we mean by best practice and excellence.
Lobbying with goverment in getting support for biotech industry.
Fintan Walton:
Right, right. One thing obviously another issue is getting support from government. Each of you work independently to try and make sure you protect the interest of your membership and so forth, there is a national organization which will recognize obviously in the UK which is the BIA and it does it's job in working closely with government on specific initiatives. But when we look at if I could ask you Harriet this question I mean I think wouldn't -- is a again as part of the agenda of The Golden Triangle to try and articulate and ensure that there is a better deal with the biotech companies from government basically?
Harriet Fear:
Absolutely and I like to think that having worked for the government for 21-years before coming into this role I am well placed to help.
Fintan Walton:
In diplomatic, in a diplomatic service so you got some skills there?
Harriet Fear:
In a diplomatic service but also there for the last 10-years on a commercial in the commercial area. The last five-years I was running the National Life Sciences Trade Team.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Harriet Fear:
The UK & Trade Investment and helped something with it's business that I got this role a, delighted to have this role at ERBI. There is absolutely fundamentally a lobbying role if you want to call it lobbying role fit for the goal.
Fintan Walton:
Or even educational?
Harriet Fear:
Educational is probably more a more sensitive word.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Harriet Fear:
Exactly, he has a less crucial word. We all have three of us have a very strong working relationships with actually in BIA we I think they do a phenomenal job in the role that they play to say influence government should I say but what I think The Golden Triangle has what we think The Golden Triangle has is a really strong in depth knowledge of the SME community it's not that just the BIA (indiscernable) but many of their members are much bigger companies and what we have our members are predominately at the smaller end of SME. So we you know robust case studies everyday of the week about what needs to be done and the difference that government needs to make and so we've we are working very closely with the office of life sciences which is basically funding the UK.
Fintan Walton:
Yes.
Harriet Fear:
And we will be meeting with I am sure to talk about the issues in dominant respects and working with the BIA as well where that's appropriate and we've already got those lines of communication in place but --
Fintan Walton:
Okay. And then there is lot happening, there is some initiatives as you have already indicated by government towards the biotech community always never enough but something is happening?
Harriet Fear:
Exactly.
The current economic climate and the transformations in business model of the biotech industry.
Fintan Walton:
But Jon, let's just step back a little bit and just look at the current situation because we can't talk in 2009 without
Jon Rees:
Sure.
Fintan Walton:
Avoiding the question around financing?
Jon Rees:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
And I want just to get a feed from feel for you and the rest of two Tony and Harriet just about what how you see the economy climate for biotech currently? What is really like you know --
Jon Rees:
Sure.
Fintan Walton:
And where do we think we are going to come out the other end? What sort of industry we are going to see? So I may ask you John that question of course what is it's like now and what do you see coming out of it in the future?
Jon Rees:
Well very definitely member companies and their companies that we know around experiencing serious short-term financing problems and I think as in your presentation this morning showing that 5% of the world's global, public listed biotech's have already expired is a good illustration of that and there are different things in fact that government could help with and in the shorter-term it would be helpful where the government to announce more information on a fund that to meet information on to the guardian and this is a appropriate 1 billion pound bailout fund and unfortunately the news for on that seems to have gone that since the budget. So I think many people are quite keen to hear more information about that. And we are certainly asking government to increase the level of representation for private biotech companies just the kind of companies that you can help in the short-term and so we want them to increase representation on the office of life sciences for these private biotech companies.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. As suppose what, to you Tony, I mean just taking that conversation a little bit further. I am asking question really about you know what do we see coming out of this and you know maybe government can help. But are we going to see a transformation of the biotech industry in the sense that past business models will have to change the way in which biotech companies operate will change. Are we going out through a transformation of the biotech industry?
Tony Jones:
I think it's really good backup and they need the economic cycles which ever industry comes out the other side is not quite the same as it was before and I suspect we will see that with the biotech company. we will see a probably maybe a dropping of the really small companies that are staying small for that long and there will be consolidation much earlier I would imagine and to the investors to say look will go back this but they can be backing experience teams.
Fintan Walton:
Yes.
Tony Jones:
And they've got critical mass to work with.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Tony Jones:
And even in good financing times. If you got one lead product this is your value driver.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Tony Jones:
And that trial fails it is always going to be difficult to surviving in the good market.
Fintan Walton:
Yes, yes.
Tony Jones:
So I think it whether we see a leaner, meaner biotech sector that's possible and but I am fairly optimistic that would -- it will connect the other side of the Industry -- these things do the run in cycles and I think it's a another benefit of The Golden Triangle is that we need to be enthusing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies an(indiscernable) and what a better place to do that. Then we've got the new result put the sector together in the first place.
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Tony Jones:
So I think you know we I am very optimistic and I think we will connect the other side and we gonna have some great companies out there and we will be back.
Fintan Walton:
Harriet, what's your view?
Harriet Fear:
Yeah, I optimist. I feel the same. I think there is such a lot of passionate individuals prepared willing enabled and with the track record of making it work and particularly on the entrepreneur pipeline if you look talking from my regional perspective we've got 5 or 6 people who I know, you know would die rather than say receptor failed. so I think with that sort of passion and drive and commitment the future does look brighter than some would suggest and sometimes I hit the (indiscernable) but the (indiscernable) immediate it can fuel you know worry and anxiety and as I said before and there are still deals to be done. We are seeing some new projects coming to information so it's not (indiscernable) and this sector has always have to do creatively.
Fintan Walton:
Indeed. Yeah, yeah. Jon(indiscernable)?
Jon Rees:
Well, I think in the Oxford question of last 4.5 years company has raised 0.5 billion pounds in financing in the public and private markets. So I think the financial community is certainly has a lot of confidence in companies coming out of Oxford and I think saying instead of Cambridge and London we are better based crop innovative new company.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Well thank you all very much indeed for coming along and discussing The Golden Triangle. Thank you.
Tony Jones:
Thank you.
Harriet Fear:
Thank you.
Jon Rees:
Thank you.
Harriet Fear
CEO, ERBI
Tony Jones, Director of Biotechnology & Healthcare London First. After completing a PhD in Biochemistry (1992) from the University of Southampton UK, Tony Jones undertook several years of post-doctoral research in the oncology field, primarily with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund taking novel neuropeptide antagonists into Phase 1. In 1997, he moved into Technology Transfer with the Medical Research Council and later (1998) moved to University College London, where he was Business Development Manager at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research until November 2003. In November 2003, he took up the post of Director of Biotechnology & Healthcare at London First, managing the London Biotechnology Network and promotion of London's excellence in healthcare research and delivery. Recruited as Director in late 2003 for the London Biotechnology Network (LBN), Tony has moved the LBN from a primarily inward looking London group to an outward facing business network. Dr.Jon Rees is CEO of OBN, having taken over the direction of the network's activities in July 2005, taking the organization to financial self-sustainability, diversifying it's business, and leading the spin-out of OBN from the University in July 2008. As executive director, Dr. Rees's it's on the 5-member Board of OBN, developing strategy for the organization as well as business planning. Jon was a scientist by training, but also has several years' background in Project Management, which he moved into after having worked as a post-doctoral research officer in the Dept. of Plant Sciences (Univ. Oxford) publishing in peer-reviewed plant biotechnology journals. Jon conceptualized BioTrinity, now OBN's flagship one-to-one biotechnology partnering and investment conference which showcases the South East most promising biotech's which attracted 400 delegates in it's first year - and at which over 500 partnering meetings were held. BioTrinity became the largest biopartnering meeting in South East England (SEEDA) region in it's inaugural year. Dr. Rees also instigated OBN's Group Purchasing Scheme which is expected to save OBN Member companies up to "1m over it's first two years. Jon completed his molecular biology PhD in 2000. Harriet Fear joined the ERBI team from the Diplomatic Service. She has worked in many British Embassies around the globe across all continents. She has spent the last 10 years working in the commercial field, the latter five years of which she has led the life sciences Trade Team at UK Trade & Investment. This role saw her leading the UK presence at major international events such as BIO and Medica and championing the international plans of biotech, pharma, healthcare and Medtech companies throughout the UK. She also played a pivotal role in the selling of the UK life sciences sector internationally, working with industry leaders to develop a life sciences Marketing Strategy for the UK.
London Biotechnology Network
The London Biotechnology Network (LBN) began in 2000 and has since grown to be a stalwart addition to the London life sciences community. LBN is a business network of over 800 organizations and 2000 members from the biopharmaceutical sector, academia, venture capital community, legal and accounting services, and consultants with an interest in the sector. LBN strives to provide members with relevant information and networking opportunities to cultivate the right environment for innovation and collaboration in the life sciences community. OBNOBN is a not-for-profit biotech business network which exists to catalyze the growth and development of the Oxford and South-East biotech super-cluster. Their activities can be summarized as networking, partnering, and group purchasing, advice and information dissemination. ERBIERBI was established in 1997 with a grant for 3 years from the DTI. As a networking organization for Cambridge and the East of England, their original goal was to provide a platform for biotechnology and related companies to meet and interact through attending regular meetings. In 2000 ERBI became a private, not-for-profit, self -financing, membership based company. Their Board and Steering Group are made up of representatives from all walks of the bio-community including major pharma, large and small biotech's and professional advisers. Today they have almost 300 members and ERBI is currently Europe's leading regional bio industry group.