Philippe Pouletty (Credit: Deinove)

No pain, no gain: Com­pa­ny-build­ing French VC scores €250M for life sci­ences fund

In the Truf­fle Cap­i­tal play­book, you ei­ther go big or go home.

The French VC firm does not both­er with pitch­es from com­pa­nies vy­ing for in­vest­ment — in­stead, it sources the raw ma­te­r­i­al to build com­pa­nies from scratch. On Wednes­day, it un­veiled a €250 mil­lion boost to in­vest in the life sci­ences, in par­tic­u­lar, the realm of in­ter­ven­tion­al med­ical de­vices.

The recipe for in­vest­ment is ar­du­ous. The firm ap­prais­es about 1000 un­pub­lished patent ap­pli­ca­tions from the top 50 uni­ver­si­ties across the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope. Af­ter whit­tling the list to five per year, it goes about ne­go­ti­at­ing ex­clu­sive glob­al li­cens­es.

A ma­jor source of ‘dis­rup­tive’ sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy is acad­e­mia, but on­ly some 20% to 30% of patents from uni­ver­si­ties give rise to com­pa­nies be­cause aca­d­e­m­ic re­searchers tend to want to re­main with­in the halls of acad­e­mia, Philippe Poulet­ty, co-founder and chief of Truf­fle Cap­i­tal, not­ed in an in­ter­view with End­points News. “So you have maybe 70% of patent ap­pli­ca­tions which are left aside if you will.”

Once the tech­nol­o­gy is li­censed, Truf­fle in­vents a name for the com­pa­ny, hires the man­age­ment team and puts in mil­lions to de­vel­op the tech — all the while re­main­ing the largest, typ­i­cal­ly soli­tary share­hold­er. In the last 15 years, the firm has backed more than 70 com­pa­nies — of which 80% were cre­at­ed by or with the sup­port of Truf­fle teams. Al­to­geth­er, 13 com­pa­nies, such as Abi­vax, have gone on to make pub­lic de­buts, while Truf­fle has made 17 ex­its, in­clud­ing sales to Stryk­er and Boston Sci­en­tif­ic.

Truf­fle — which is named af­ter the fa­mous black truf­fles of Périg­ord, a re­gion east of Bor­deaux in south-west France in­hab­it­ed by its co-founders — sets up its star­tups in France, but the Eu­ro­pean ap­petite for in­vest­ment is eclipsed by in­vestors in the Unit­ed States, Poulet­ty ac­knowl­edged.

Get­ting be­tween €30 to €50 mil­lion in a Se­ries A fund­ing is pos­si­ble, but cer­tain­ly, Eu­ronext is not as pow­er­ful nor as deep as Nas­daq, he not­ed.

“So that means that when you want to grow fur­ther the com­pa­ny to the com­mer­cial stage, it’s more dif­fi­cult,” he said. “So M&A is of­ten the pre­ferred route, which is why we’ve sold a num­ber of com­pa­nies, which is not great for the Eu­ro­pean econ­o­my be­cause most of the buy­ers are US com­pa­nies…soon they will be Chi­nese com­pa­nies.”

But the in­vest­ment cli­mate in Eu­rope is ripe for change, he added, not­ing that the French and Ger­man au­thor­i­ties are think­ing of putting to­geth­er a raft of in­cen­tives to chan­nel more in­vest­ment in­to the biotech and tech in­dus­tries.

“So I’m quite op­ti­mistic that in the next five years, you should see com­pa­nies be­ing able to grow like in the US on Nas­daq and do­ing big sec­ondary of­fer­ings.”

Cre­at­ed in 2001, Truf­fle Cap­i­tal has raised over €1.1 bil­lion so far. Aside from its fin­tech in­ter­est, the firm’s Bio­MedTech strat­e­gy is fo­cused on tech­nol­o­gy that helps pa­tients more ef­fi­cient­ly and cost-ef­fec­tive­ly with­in the fields of car­di­ol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy, der­mo-cos­met­ics, on­col­o­gy, gas­troen­terol­o­gy, and or­tho­pe­dics.

The work has al­ready be­gun. Five com­pa­nies have been cre­at­ed with this new in­jec­tion of funds, in­clud­ing Holi­Stick Med­ical, which is fo­cused on treat­ing se­ri­ous car­diac ail­ments with­out open-heart surgery; Ski­nosive, which is work­ing on tech­nol­o­gy to pre­vent skin can­cers; and Art­e­drone, whose au­tonomous mi­cro-ro­bots are be­ing en­gi­neered to pre­vent and treat cere­brovas­cu­lar is­sues. An­oth­er three are slat­ed for 2020, and the plan is to cre­ate up to a dozen com­pa­nies in to­tal.

“We build the com­pa­ny, we have 90% own­er­ship, and if we suc­ceed, we can say, thanks to Truf­fle oth­er­wise this com­pa­ny would not ex­ist,” Poulet­ty said. “If we fail, we say we were stu­pid and we don’t ac­cuse some­one else of mis­takes. It’s our suc­cess or our mis­takes.”

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA’s work­load buck­les un­der the strain, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

David Berry (Flagship)

Flag­ship's next big tech­no­log­i­cal bet? The cloud

Earlier this month, Flagship announced their big bet on the software half the industry is talking about, launching the AI and machine learning startup. Now, they and a couple other investors are gambling $100 million on a software that much of the public generally thinks of as a cool, IT afterthought: cloud computing.

The idea, says founder and Flagship partner David Berry, is one of scale: The sheer magnitude of biological data that you can store on cloud technology is unprecedented. And that size, when leveraged properly, can allow you to ask questions and form insights that are similarly unprecedented.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Patrick Enright, Longitude co-founder (Longitude)

As its biotechs hit the pan­dem­ic ex­it, Lon­gi­tude rais­es $585M for new neu­ro, can­cer, ag­ing and or­phan-fo­cused fund

The years have been kind to Longitude Capital. This year, too.

A 2006 spinout of Pequot Capital, its founders started their new firm just four years before the parent company would go under amid insider trading allegations. Their first life sciences fund raised $325 million amid the financial crisis, they added a second for $385 million and then in, 2016, a third for $525 million. In the last few months, the pandemic biotech IPO boom netted several high-value exits from those funds, as Checkmate, Vaxcyte, Inozyme and Poseida all went public.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

Pal­la­dio bags $20 mil­lion Se­ries B to top­ple a prob­lem­at­ic kid­ney dis­ease drug

Palladio Biosciences just took one step further in its quest to topple Otsuka’s Samsca with its own — it hopes safer — autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) drug.

The Pennsylvania-based biotech announced a $20 million Series B on Friday, which will fund a 10-person Phase III trial of its vasopressin V2 receptor agonist, lixivaptan. CEO Alex Martin expects to read out data in the first half of next year, then launch straight into a larger pivotal Phase III study with about 1,200 participants.