BGV’s Daniela Couto and Gina Melcher von Dydiowa together with Sander van Deventer of Forbion published an article in Nature Biotechnology on pharma involvement in biotech startup success. Click on this link to read the whole article.


Many novel therapeutic molecules and technologies are conceived and initially developed by small biotechnology (startup) companies. However, usually large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (pharma) will bring the resulting therapeutics to the market and commercialize the product. Therefore, to bring therapies to patients, interactions between startups and large pharma are pivotal, and every startup entrepreneur needs to plan how and when to best start the relationship with pharma. With acquisition in mind, entrepreneurs often delay interactions with pharma until later stages of the startup life cycle, typically until after clinical data have been generated. Is this the best timing and approach? We have analyzed the impact of interactions with pharma on the success of startups across the different phases of the company life cycle. These interactions include pharma acting as a parent company for a spinout, as an early- or late-stage investor, as a development partner with extensive knowledge and network, or as an acquisition partner. Our results indicate that formal ties to pharma strongly correlate with startup success at the clinical as well as preclinical stage. On the basis of our analysis, we emphasize the need for a continuous involvement with pharma throughout the life cycle of the startup. This can be facilitated by the startup’s investors — in particular, by venture capital (VC) investors with ties to pharma.