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Dutch Biotech Event: passionate biotech champions lead by example

The Dutch Biotech Event, last Friday in Maarssen, was a big success. Nearly 190 biotech professionals gathered to be inspired by leading biotech entrepreneurs, to meet peers and experts and to upgrade their professional skills during hands-on workshops. 

Below you'll find a short report. Scroll down for a selection of photos of the day!



HollandBIO’s Annemiek Verkamman kicked off the Dutch Biotech Event. Our sector lives up to its promise, delivering products that contribute to our health and a sustainable world. However, the sector faces numerous challenges as well: we need to develop our products faster, and better. Annemiek invited the audience to come up with solutions as innovative as the sector’s products to do just that.


Biotech veteran Russell Greig has seen it all: while at SR One, GSK’s corporate venture group, he and his team assessed hundreds of business propositions a year. How to interact with the FDA? How to put the patient first in every department of a company? How to deal with cultural differences? Russell showed the audience the ropes, and as a bonus, he enlightened the many entrepreneurs looking for funding on how to deliver the perfect pitch. In conclusion, Russell managed to compress the lessons learned during a lifelong biotech career into an amazing, 20-minute story.


Director at LifeSciences@Work Chrétien Herben, announced the winner of the Venture Challenge 2017 spring edition: X-Heal Diagnostic. Read more


Forbion’s Sander van Deventer passionately called in the help of the sector to halt the ‘fake news’ making headlines in the media. The exploding expenditure on medicines putting our health system under pressure: nonsense! The overall expenditure on medicines are and have been stable for years. The limited effectiveness of new cancer therapies: nonsense! Check the tail effect: long term survival rates of responders will tell a completely different story. Producing DIY-medicines at the pharmacy: nonsense! Who would take a lone aerospace professor seriously claiming to build a space shuttle in his back yard at a fraction of NASA’s costs? Instead, we should boost the sector's innovative power, by including meaningful outcomes, healthcare system benefits, patient experiences and societal value into drug development.


With two rounds of parallel workshops and the opportunity to consult an expert of choice, the afternoon offered something for everyone.

WORKSHOP - How to close a deal

Guided by AM-Pharma CEO Erik van den Berg, Pieter Gaillard (founding father of 2-BBB) and Paul van der Horst (Director Business Development and Investor Relations at Galapagos) shared their tips and tricks on closing a deal in pharma. “Even if you have a great product, the marge between a successful deal and failure is very thin”, Paul commented, “so maintain your rights upon termination”. Both role models stressed the importance of trust and investing time in a relationship with a potential partner. Yet there is also an urgency to act fast. In order to involve senior management early on, bring two emotions to the center that no potential partner can ignore: greed and FOMO (fear of missing out). To make the most out of your deal Pieter concludes “being creative sometimes makes the (celebratory) cake bigger”.

WORKSHOP - Strategies for Growth

In an interactive session chaired by Xendo CEO André van de Sande, Marion Blomenröhr of Synthon and Lex Bakker of Merus shared their companies’ success factors. While it is a no-brainer that the main focus should be on the best science and products, several other aspects are of importance too: establishing a clear but flexible business strategy, securing solid financing, being critical at your own work, building a strong network and employing a great workforce were some of the key succes factors discussed.

WORKSHOP - Presenting for impact

During the workshop Presenting for Impact, Jos Joore and Marco Rochette (Spreekmeesters) enlightened the enthusiast audience on how to deliver an empowering presentation. The participants were set to work and were invited to put the learnings into practice. Their confidence boosted with valuable tricks and tips, all attendees left the workshop in great spirits to enjoy the subsequent drinks and BBQ.

WORKSHOP - Success is a yellow Ferrari

Followed by previous year’s success, Harry Bloemink once more took the audience on a journey of personal goals and dreams and entrepreneurial success. His first message: get your focus right. A negative focus never works. “Google ‘I don’t want to see spiders’ and guess what Google shows?” Focus on the positive instead. Madonna always said she wanted to be a singer. In her words: “Most people never get what they want, because they never tell what they want.” People love to be part of a goal and will be glad to help you, as your ambassador.
During the interactive session Harry brought up many personal goals for discussion, from running the marathon, to buying a car. His second message: bring your goals with flair and don’t destroy your message with the Charlie Brown Effect. Fully energized, the audience was ready for sharing its dreams with colleagues during drinks and BBQ.


Experts from legal to consulting and from business development to financing shared there expertise in 30 minutes sessions with the participants. During the Meet the next biotech hero, six young biotech entrepreneurs presented their companies in a 5 minutes pitch. A wonderful opportunity to learn more from biotech champions of today and tomorrow!

Beers & BBQ

A HollandBIO Event without drinks is like fire without smoke. Fortunately, the beers and BBQ offered plenty of opportunity to talk on, share insights and to network. The many cheerful faces let us to believe that all attendees enjoyed the Dutch Biotech Event as much as the HollandBIO crew did. We are already looking forward to next year’s edition!

Photos: Nils van Houts