Innovative Ontario start-ups extended their global reach last month, generating some promising leads for financing and licensing deals at the 2011 BioPartnering Europe conference.

The good news made the trip to Europe more than worthwhile for the Ontario delegation, which included several MaRS life sciences client companies.

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

Organized by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, the delegation travelled to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London to present innovative Ontario start-ups to a European audience and meet with pharma representatives, investors and potential development collaborators.

In particular, I’d like to thank Laurie D’Souza of the Ministry for her sterling efforts in bringing this delegation together and her expert management throughout the event.

The MaRS clients in the Ontario delegation included:

The delegates held 39 partnering meetings, including 20 with major pharma companies and nine meetings with potential investors. Overall, the delegates reported that more than one third of their partnering meetings had the potential to result in a significant outcome (license or financing). Good news!

Westminster, London

The conference featured a variety of presentations by European life sciences stakeholders, and one thing became clear throughout:  major pharma in the EU is changing its business model. These companies are starting to place greater focus on personalized medicines (cheaper to develop and better likelihood of a premium price), increased patient engagement in development and more flexibility in licensing approaches. Pharma continues to move upstream in its search for assets as competition for late-stage clinical products has become intense.

From an investor’s point of view, it appears that there is much more capital available in the US than the EU, but increasingly harsh regulatory requirements in the US have led to a growth in EU clinical development. Nevertheless, the number of life sciences IPOs and secondary offerings in the EU remains at a record low.

In contrast, the European Commission announced increased funding of €656 million in 2012 for health-related projects. This funding will be administered under the Framework Program, which uses industry-academic collaborations to solve major health problems.

John McCulloch

John provides assistance to life sciences entrepreneurs in business strategy, management, intellectual property, financing and licensing. See more…