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A look back at BIO-Europe 2019


Recently, a broad team of experts from across Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, Janssen Business Development and Johnson & Johnson headed to Hamburg for BIO-Europe’s 25th anniversary. There, we met with some of the most exciting and innovative life science startups while taking part in many key sessions over the three-day conference.


On the first day of the conference Paul Stoffels, MD, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, featured as the keynote guest on a panel looking at highlights in healthcare from the past 25 years and making predictions for the next 25. On the panel, Paul made the case for working with external innovators and partnering with biotech to make a difference and bring transformational products to market while stressing the importance of having a global and collaborative mindset. 

Also, on the Monday, our company presentation was delivered to a room of entrepreneurs and startups by Michael Hübner, New Venture Lead, Switzerland & EMEA Oncology. He outlined why Johnson & Johnson Innovation is a partner of choice for life science startups, with a focus on our Janssen oncology therapeutic area. We also hosted a networking reception at our Welcome Lounge, focusing on what we are looking for in retinal disease hosted by Prabhu Velusami, Senior Director, New Ventures & Transactions Lead, Vision. He explained to guests how we leverage our existing expertise and collaborate with partners to explore the underlying biology of retinal diseases. Plus, John Isaac, Senior Director, Neuroscience External Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, took part on a panel discussing advancements in neuroscience and how Johnson & Johnson is sharing data with industry partners to help find better solutions faster.

From Janssen, Tahera Kan, Senior Director, Global Business Development, discussed to a packed room what is important for successful negotiations on a panel focusing on non-binding term sheets on the second day of the conference, stressing that finding the right partner is key. And on the final day of BIO-Europe Simon Brack, Director, External Innovation in Discovery, Drug Production and Supply at Janssen was part of a panel looking at the opportunities and challenges both small biotechs and big pharmas are experiencing in gene therapy valuation and deal trends.


Finally, JLABS sponsored the 6th Startup Slam, offering 10 innovative entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their company to a jury of leading investors and dealmakers. I co-hosted the event with Joachim Eckhout of Labiotech, and Elena Fernandez-Kleinlein, Interim Head, JLABS EMEA was part of the judging panel. Eisbach Bio was declared the overall winner, for its development of novel medicines that target chromatin regulatory mechanisms essential to tumors. Asgard Therapeutics was awarded the Audience Vote for its solution, exploring direct cell reprogramming as a strategy to force cancer cells to become immunogenic again.

Throughout the three days the theme around partnerships and collaborations seemed to re-emerge frequently. While industry needs support in areas like innovation and cost savings, entrepreneurs need support with capital and expertise, so it makes sense to host forums like BIO-Europe where the ecosystem can build mutually beneficial relationships. It was also apparent that the participants and discussions have become much more globally focused, and in order for healthcare to make the biggest impact we must continue to work across regions and involve all the necessary stakeholders. 

Will we see you in Paris, 23-25 March at BIO-Europe Spring?