← Al het nieuws

The power of biotech proves to be not only effective for the future – Throwback Dutch Biotech Event 2022

, , , ,

I couldn’t have welcomed you any better, cheered HollandBIO’s Annemiek after the video message of Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science at HollandBIO’s Dutch Biotech Event 2022. Robbert Dijkgraaf spoke full of promise about our Dutch biotech sector: ‘Worldwide biotech saved us these last few years.’

The Princeton professor and now Science Minister spoke about the past (‘the covid vaccines were more successful, effective and faster developed than we could have dreamt’), but also about the future (‘The power of biotech is also promising for the future. After all, the Netherlands has a unique position in terms of our strength in life sciences research and the collab between brightest minds, beautiful corporations and world class institutions’). And last but not least, he acknowledged the promise of Biotech Booster that was assigned €250 million out of the National Growth Fund to improve biotech valorization.

Speaking of the brightest minds, the winner of the Venture Challenge Spring 2022 was announced on stage. The Venture Challenge is a 10-week program to develop an initial idea in life sciences into a solid business case. Startup Iprotics, that develops specific proteasome inhibitors that potentially treat multiple myeloma without the side-effects known from traditional proteasome inhibitors, won this edition.

Jeroen Hugenholtz, expert in food fermentation and co-founder of startup company NoPalm Ingredients had this year’s honor to present his keynote to the Dutch biotech ecosystem. NoPalm Ingredients is an alternative fat company that first of all is producing a sustainable alternative for palm oil. Jeroen concluded that fermentation makes live better. HollandBIO agrees on the bigger picture that biotech makes live better.

After the plenary sessions, the attendees had the chance to visit several break-out sessions that have connections with biotech and entrepreneurship:   

National Growth Fund: Opportunities for biotech entrepreneurs

Four growth fund projects presented themselves and what they have to offer biotech entrepreneurs with the hundreds of millions in subsidies they will be receiving. Koen Daamen, Sector Lead Health & Care at National Growth Fund, was our moderator for this session. Cellular Agriculture, PharmaNL, Crop-XR and Biotech Booster took the stage for a short 5 minute pitch and questions. This carousel of growth fund proposals was a good conversation starter for the networking drinks.

Talent in turbulent times

Building a biotech company rarely is a linear uphill road. Promising results trigger exponential growth, whereas setbacks unavoidably lead to lay-offs. Adding the surging demand for, and scarcity of talent to the mix, and you’ll understand why your people strategy can make or break your company. How to navigate this inherent uncertainty from a human capital perspective? And how to attract and retain talent for a lifelong career in life sciences under these challenging circumstances? Lilian Hendrick (VP Human Capital at Agendia), Vera van Proosdij (Head of People at Mosa Meat) and Wiebe Teeuwen (Partner & BD director at QTC Recruitment) shared their insights on how a company’s purpose, communication and culture are key for people. Besides, in a lively discussion opportunities to join forces were explored, for instance via talent pools.

Early Stage Term Sheet Negotiation Game

Crawl across the table and put yourself in someone else’s skin – to increase the understanding of what it means to negotiate a term sheet in the early stage, Ruud Smits and Sybren de Beurs of NautaDutilh first showed us which fears and wishes both sides of the negotiation table have. They explained the possible elements of a early stage term sheet, before they put the group to work at the negotiation table themselves – encouraged by several skilled NautaDutilh’ colleagues. There, both the investors and founders experienced firsthand how hard it can be to get a handshake deal. Fortunately, at the end of the day, the negotiators were able to toast to a successful outcome – a bit wiser and more experienced than before.

How to survive & thrive in today’s bear biotech market

During this session Jan de Kerpel (Co-Head Corporate Finance at Kempen & Co) gave an insightful introduction on key trends in the life science sector regarding fundraising, mergers and acquisitions. Over the last 10 years companies are getting bigger, a parameter that our ecosystem is getting bigger. Jacquelien ten Dam (CFO at Mimetas) and Paul van der Horst (CBO at AgomAb Therapeutics) joined Jan de Kerpel on stage for a more detailed discussion on the current financial situation and conclude how “perseverance” is a beautiful take home message.

(Lab)space to grow your biotech startup

To grow as a biotech startup, you need adequate lab space to develop your products. With interesting talks by Janneke Meulenberg (MeiraGTx), Mauro Muraro (Single Cell Discoveries), Johan van Gerven (Kadans Science Partner) and Richard Rushby (Innolabs) led by Gonja van Hardeveld (Thermo Fisher Scientific) we discussed how biotech companies can find or realize adequate lab space. We found that cooperation and dialogue between all involved partners is key. By identifying upcoming demand for lab space before it’s urgently needed, developers can work to provide the best lab space possible.  

More than 200 participants joined us on Friday 9th of September and over networking drinks and a BBQ they had time to invest in meeting new potential partners for the future.

We want to thank all our attendees and speakers for creating again a beautiful event. We see you around at one of our other events!

©2022 Photo’s: Nils van Houts