GlaxoSmithKline: The European CEEDD




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Video title: GlaxoSmithKline: The European CEEDD
Released on: February 19, 2010. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks with Shelagh Wilson, Vice President Head of European CEEDD at GlaxoSmithKline. Filmed at BioBusiness 2010 in London, England, they discuss:

• What the CEEDD has focused on in the past and how opportunities are identified

• The CEEDD's role within GSK

• The difference between alliances sought out by internal CEDDs and Shelagh's CEEDD

• The CEEDD's measure of success

• Dealings with struggling biotechs

• Plans for 2010

What the CEEDD has focused on in the past and how opportunities are identified
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioBusiness in London. On this show I have Shelagh Wilson, who is Vice President for the CEEDD at GSK, welcome.
Shelagh Wilson:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
And you're Vice President of the European section of CEEDD at GSK?
Shelagh Wilson:
That's right, yes.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah. So Shelagh , when I look at CEEDD and its function within GSK it's part of the overall strategy of GSK getting access to science technology that will ultimately deliver products for the company, to head up the European division of that is quite a hefty job, I would imagine, how is it going?
Shelagh Wilson:
It's actually going very well. For the first two or three-years of the CEEDD we didn't really focus on European biotech companies at all. So the European sector is only being formed in the last year, we've really focused on looking for biotech's in Europe. And we've been surprised that how many innovative, exciting science biotech's is out there in Europe and we've done a couple of deals this year and we got a another raft of companies that we are looking at do deals in the coming year.
Fintan Walton:
So there is plenty of opportunities but you still have to be selective obviously?
Shelagh Wilson:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
So what is the selection process? What are you looking for?
Shelagh Wilson:
So the primary driver what we are looking for is some form of novel platform technology some sort of drug discovery technology that's applicable across multiple targets or multiple disease areas, so the primary driver is that is that technology that can then be used to discover and develop medicines.
Fintan Walton:
So in the end would it be fair to say you are less interested in single product opportunities and more interested in technology based?
Shelagh Wilson:
That's true for the CEEDD obviously not, that's not true for GSK broadly.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Shelagh Wilson:
But certainly for the CEEDD and what we are looking for is a company that's driven by a platform technology rather than a single asset, yes.
Fintan Walton:
And how far developed is that technology need to be and then obviously some may be just purely conceptual at the outset, when do you start taking a serious interest and even go to thinking an agreement?
Shelagh Wilson:
So we look for some form of validation either in terms of the molecules it perhaps gone into an in vivo animal model it doesn't have to have gone all the way to the clinic but just some level of validation of the technology will deliver a medicine and a differentiated medicine. And to a certain extent it's a judgment call and that's why the CEEDD is made up of scientists, we are not business development for over all, we all have a scientific background, so we use our judgment to assess the promise of a particular discovery platform that we are looking at.
The CEEDD's role within GSK.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now that brings on to how your CEEDD interacts with the rest of GSK because obviously there is a platter of expertise beyond your own division and you are also interfacing with business development licensing of course, so how does CEEDD then interact then with the rest of GSK. And if I was a biotech company have promising technology that is coming through obviously I be may be talking to you or your group, but how is that then interfaced with the rest of GSK?
Shelagh Wilson:
This within the CEEDD we go out looking for the biotech companies, we go out looking for the deals and then we scope what a deal might look like. We then bring in business development to actually carry out the negotiations and the contract and draft the agreements, but we actually do the initial contact and the initial we make the initial decisions about which company we actually want to do a deal with. So we are certainly that the company the group that biotech should be talking to in terms of if they have a platform technology.
Fintan Walton:
And if somebody if you are a European biotech company and you are interfacing with somebody else in GSK may be because there are group of scientists working in a particular therapeutic field, what should happen then, should they start directing their discussions with you or how does that how should they change that relationship?
Shelagh Wilson:
So sure certain biotech's could easily set up alliances either with this internal CEDDs or with the CEEDD. In cases like that what we try and do is get together so it's a three way decision, we'll evaluate the technology with our internal scientists and between the three groups we will decide okay well if this the biotech wants to set up an alliance with GSK who's best, what's best for the company, what's best for the medicine, is it better to be therapeutically focused with one of our CEDDs or is it best to try and explore the breadth of the platform with the CEEDD. So that will be a case by case decision and certainly within GSK all of the groups that are talking to outside companies are obviously talking to each other as well.
The difference between alliances sought out by internal CEDDs and Shelagh's CEEDD.
Fintan Walton:
Right. And well obviously one of the concepts of CEEDD was to increase some entrepreneurialism within GSK, is that happening so it's had been of entrepreneurialism you meet a little bit of tension between the other CEDDs, does that happen or is there a nice collaboration and a bit of tension?
Shelagh Wilson:
There is a bit of healthy competition, but to be honest this sorts of alliances that our internal CEDDs are looking to set up are quite different to our alliances. Like I said ours is a multi therapeutic, the CEDDs are therapeutically focused. We are looking for companies that will take molecules all the way through to clinical proof of concept because we don't have internal resources. The internal CEDDs can in license molecules at any stage and bring them into their own efforts. So in practice the sorts of companies, the sorts of alliances that we are setting up are actually quite different and there isn't a lot of competition. But let me give you an example, we did a deal [PharmaDeals ID = 33525] with Chroma Therapeutics at the beginning of last year, it's an inflammation based company, our inflammation CEDD who had first looked at them they liked them very much, but it wasn't quite on their strategy to set up an alliance with them, so they passed the information to us, so there is a fair bit of collaboration internal within GSK as well in terms of companies to do deals with.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So when it comes to when you set up a collaboration or enter an agreement with the third party biotech company the funds come from you've got your own source of budget and funds that you can actually invest in that?
Shelagh Wilson:
That's right, that's right.
Fintan Walton:
And how does that fund, if I could call it that, that source of money relate to the venture arms like SR One and GSK ventures?
Shelagh Wilson:
Okay. So as part of drug discovery we have our own budget from the drug discovery budget to set up alliances, now that budget provides some times equity, at some times upfront payments, milestone payments so it's our own fixed budget.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Shelagh Wilson:
So we are quite separate from our venture arms SR One they are investing purely equity into companies they often take a sit on the board of those companies that's a purely venture strategy, we are more of a drug discovery strategic platform arm of GSK.
Fintan Walton:
Clearly you can enter into agreements?
Shelagh Wilson:
Yeah, yeah.
The CEEDD's measure of success.
Fintan Walton:
Is the measure of success getting into the agreement or is the measure of success how many come through the other end?
Shelagh Wilson:
So it's both in practice. I mean obviously in the short-term it's how many deals we do per year that's part of what we are judged on, but ultimately what we are judged on is how many of those alliances actually deliver a molecule with clinical proof of concept back into GSK and ultimately that's what we are aiming for, ultimately we all want to see medicines we don't just want to do deals we want to see medicines coming out of it, so ultimately that's what we are measuring at.
Fintan Walton:
And there is any sign of success happening?
Shelagh Wilson:
Absolutely, there is just very recently an alliance that we set up with ChemoCentryx [PharmaDeals ID = 25112] three-years ago that was a platform technology deal around Chemokine-receptor they have we've just very recently optioned in a molecule with clinical proof of concept it's a medicine that potentially will treat IBD a very severe inflammatory severe inflammatory disorder they've got, we've just in licensed that in after three-years so we regard that as one of our recent major successes.
Fintan Walton:
So in the agreements that you have typically around a platform technology there would be options, a exercise of those options would be the key components?
Shelagh Wilson:
Absolutely, absolutely. So that's our real measure of success in alliances. We will be optioning a molecule at the clinical proof of concept stage, because once we option and it goes into full development and that's a significant step in the development of medicines.
Dealings with struggling biotech's.
Fintan Walton:
Now clearly the other phenomenon that's happened in the last 18 months, two years is the financial crisis which has had some affect particularly on venture capital amongst biotech companies?
Shelagh Wilson:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
You are right there at the interface seeing those companies often they will approach you and some will be in healthier state and others that fail.
Shelagh Wilson:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
Has that changed the way you look at these biotech companies, has it made more difficult for you to see the opportunities that could have been if the company had been properly financed and that hasn't meant that you've actually had to back away from some interesting science because the funds weren't there?
Shelagh Wilson:
Sure it's certainly made a little bit more difficult, there are certain companies out there that have gone to wall that would that had some interesting technologies. There are still lots of companies left, but absolutely one of the things that we look at is to make sure that the company has sufficient run way to actually execute an alliance with us and carry on their research for two or three-years. There hasn't been any companies that we backed away from, but there were certainly one company and actually Chroma was an example where we signed an alliance with them at the same time is then getting their next around of investment from their VC's, so that was in discussion with them in discussion with the VC's, so it was kind of a way that we made sure that they had sufficient money to continue their research, so
Fintan Walton:
And you took an equity stake in the company there?
Shelagh Wilson:
We took a small equity stake in the company but we also gave them an upfront cash payment as well to fund that part of that research, but clearly we wanted to make sure they had significant revenue from their investors as well.
Plans for 2010
Fintan Walton:
As I said you're part of this CEEDD is European focused you've been in that role for just over 12 months I believe?
Shelagh Wilson:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
So how do you see the future going are you do you see 2010 as a bigger challenge then 2009 or are you feeling confident that this is something that's actually working successfully for GSK right now?
Shelagh Wilson:
I am pretty confident, it is actually working very well at the moment. We've just come back from J.P. Morgan, we saw half a dozen companies there that look really exciting, there is a couple of other companies that we've seen outside of J.P. Morgan that look very interesting. I think 2010 is going to be a great year, well we've actually got the problem of deciding okay which of these really interesting companies do we want to go forward with. So I think in the next year or two I think it looks very exciting. But one of the areas we are also looking to try and explore as well and expand into is Asia and China in particular as the biotech industry starts to take off out there we want to set up alliances with those companies as well. So that's I think is going to be something where we will expand in the future.
Fintan Walton:
And may be a topic for another future interview hopefully?
Shelagh Wilson:
Potentially yes, yes.
Fintan Walton:
Thanks very much indeed Shelagh for coming on the show. Thank you.
Shelagh Wilson:
Thank you for inviting me. Thanks.
Shelagh Wilson
Vice President Head of European CEEDD GlaxoSmithKline
Dr. Wilson is Head of the European ceedd, which focuses on setting up external alliances with world-class biotech companies throughout Europe and the emerging markets in Asia. She is one of the founding members of the ceedd, having been appointed Head of Biology in June 2005. As a member of the ceedd leadership team, Dr. Wilson helps set ceedd strategy, sponsors ceedd business deals for approval by GSK and serves on multiple joint steering committees overseeing a drug discovery portfolio spanning diverse therapeutic areas.
GlaxoSmithKline
We have a challenging and inspiring mission: to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. This mission gives us the purpose to develop innovative medicines and products that help millions of people around the world. We are one of the few pharmaceutical companies researching both medicines and vaccines for the World Health Organization's three priority diseases HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and are very proud to have developed some of the leading global medicines in these fields.