Bram Vanparys, Gimv managing partner, head of life sciences

Long-time health­care in­vestor looks to dou­ble num­ber of life sci­ences star­tups in its 'ev­er­green' fund

Hav­ing con­sis­tent­ly kept about a dozen life sci­ences com­pa­nies in its port­fo­lio over the past few decades, Eu­ro­pean in­vestor Gimv is ready to dou­ble down — quite lit­er­al­ly.

The Brus­sels-based firm is adding life sci­ences as a fifth plat­form, along­side con­sumer, health­care, smart in­dus­try and sus­tain­able cities, with the goal of grow­ing the num­ber of backed com­pa­nies to 20.

Be­cause Gimv is a list­ed com­pa­ny on its own and runs on an ever­green struc­ture, it’s hard to pin down an ex­act fig­ure, as with oth­er VCs op­er­at­ing closed end funds, said Bram Van­parys, who’s new­ly ap­point­ed man­ag­ing part­ner, head of life sci­ences.

“When there’s an ex­it, the mon­ey just flows back to the same bal­ance sheet, same bank ac­count,” he told End­points News, so that Gimv can pour the cash in­to a new start­up.

But he did say that at any giv­en time there’s usu­al­ly “a few hun­dred mil­lion” eu­ros in cash. And his team — now com­pris­ing sev­en ded­i­cat­ed mem­bers — will have the ca­pac­i­ty to in­vest “larg­er tick­ets,” with ini­tial in­vest­ments of €10 to €15 mil­lion per com­pa­ny.

“When I start­ed in the in­dus­try 15 years ago, a com­pa­ny was typ­i­cal­ly fi­nanced for 12 months and the CEO, af­ter six months [is al­ready] go­ing out for his next round,” he said. “Now com­pa­nies are eas­i­ly fi­nanced for three to four years.”

While the health­care plat­form in­volves his pri­vate eq­ui­ty col­leagues and fo­cus­es on cash flow pos­i­tive, big­ger com­pa­nies like CD­MOs, the life sci­ences group does VC deals with R&D in­ten­sive, cash flow neg­a­tive com­pa­nies. Both have his­tor­i­cal­ly been housed un­der the health­care um­brel­la at Gimv, Van­parys not­ed.

Mov­ing for­ward, the goal is to con­tin­ue search­ing all over Eu­rope — oc­ca­sion­al­ly in the US — for promis­ing drug de­vel­op­ers, typ­i­cal­ly in Se­ries A and B. But it won’t be too sur­pris­ing to see an in­vest­ment in medtech, dig­i­tal health, di­ag­nos­tics or life sci­ence tools, or the stray pub­lic com­pa­ny in the mix, es­pe­cial­ly dur­ing the cur­rent down­shift, he said.

“We don’t want to ex­clude any­thing,” Van­parys said. “But all of these items are more on an op­por­tunis­tic ba­sis.”

Still, there are things Gimv like­ly won’t pur­sue, such as seed fi­nanc­ings that are too ear­ly.

“[W]hat we would rarely do is in­vest like $5 mil­lion, for ex­am­ple, in a $10 mil­lion round with one oth­er in­vestor to get the com­pa­ny just six months or 12 months fur­ther,” he said. “We al­ways want to have the mind­set of re­duc­ing the re­fi­nanc­ing risk as much as pos­si­ble.”

In the past, Gimv was a found­ing in­vestor in Abl­ynx, the nanobody play­er even­tu­al­ly ac­quired by Sanofi, and backed Co­v­agen, which was bought out by John­son & John­son. Cur­rent in­vest­ments in­clude Pre­cir­ix, Im­Check and Im­munOs — with the lat­ter two re­cent­ly rais­ing $103 mil­lion and $74 mil­lion, re­spec­tive­ly, in rounds that fea­tured Gimv.

Amid a broad­er down­turn in pub­lic sen­ti­ments for biotech in­vest­ments, he not­ed the tur­bu­lence in Eu­rope’s stock mar­ket is a lit­tle less se­vere.

“We nev­er in­vest in files where the on­ly ex­it tra­jec­to­ry that we see is an IPO,” he said. “If you look at the num­bers, merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions over the last 10, 20, 30 years have al­ways been rel­a­tive­ly sta­ble while IPO al­ways works in heavy cy­cles. There’s a very heavy up­cy­cle and now we go to a very heavy down cy­cle. And we al­so don’t want to re­al­ly take that risk of, you know, that while it goes up, it some­times goes down. So we de­lib­er­ate­ly — when we saw it go­ing up, we didn’t take the choice that we want to ag­gres­sive­ly push our com­pa­nies to the stock mar­ket be­cause we know that at a cer­tain point in time it goes down. So we con­tin­ue to fo­cus strong­ly on M&A as an ex­it rather than IPO as an ex­it.”

How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.

State bat­tles over mifepri­s­tone ac­cess could tie the FDA to any post-Roe cross­roads

As more than a dozen states are now readying so-called “trigger” laws to kick into effect immediate abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, these laws, in the works for more than a decade in some states, will likely kick off even more legal battles as states seek to restrict the use of prescription drug-based abortions.

Since Friday’s SCOTUS opinion to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, reproductive rights lawyers at Planned Parenthood and other organizations have already challenged these trigger laws in Utah and Louisiana. According to the Guttmacher Institute, other states with trigger laws that could take effect include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

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Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck CEO

Af­ter a 5-year re­peat PhI­II so­journ, Lund­beck and Ot­su­ka say they're fi­nal­ly ready to pur­sue OK to use Rex­ul­ti against Alzheimer's ag­i­ta­tion

Five years after Lundbeck and their longtime collaborators at Otsuka turned up a mixed set of Phase III data for Rexulti as a treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia-related agitation, they’ve come through with a new pivotal trial success they believe will finally put them on the road to an approval at the FDA. And if they’re right, some analysts believe they’re a short step away from adding more than $500 million in annual sales for the drug, already approved in depression and schizophrenia.

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