The 10th annual international partnering conference BIO-Europe Spring officially started, and Kistamässan in Stockholm is now full of exciting biotech, pharma and financing companies, renowned speakers and an innovative atmosphere.
In total, 2450 people from 49 countries had registred to the popular event, this year with Stockholm as host. According to Anna Chrisman, Group Managing Director at EBD Group, so far over 2500 meetings had been scheduled in the popular one-to-one meeting rooms. The event will last until Wednesday and will hopefully led to new collaborations and business opportunities.
The future of vaccine development
One of the first workshops of the event had the title The future of vaccine development and was moderated by Cornelius Schmaltz, Head of Unit, Directorate Health at the European Commission. Panelists were Olivier Adam, Director Extrenal R&D at Sanofi, Sven Andréasson, Senio VP, Corporate Development at Novavax and Marie-Liesse Le Corfec, Senior Director, Head of Global Strategic Maketing, Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
Adam, from Sanofi’s point of view, emphasized the importance of strategic partnerships for the development of new vaccines, like public private partnerships. He also welcomed the EU initaitive European HIV Vaccine Alliance (EHVA), an EU platform for the discovery and evaluation of novel prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine candidates. EHVA aims to develop a Multidisciplinary Vaccine Platform through a global and innovative alliance. It is coordinated by the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) and the scientific leadership is carried out conjointly with the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). EHVA is a 5 year project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
Andréasson from Novavax gave the Small Medium Enterprise’s perspective. Novavax is a clinical-stage vaccine company and their recombinant nanoparticles and adjuvant technology are the foundation for innovation. Their product pipeline targets a variety of infectious diseases with vaccine candidates currently in clinical development for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), seasonal influenza, pandemic influenza, and Ebola virus (EBOV). They also have additional preclinical stage programs, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS).
The company is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland with additional facilities in Rockville, Maryland and Uppsala, Sweden. It has approximately 450 people working in the US and 30 people working in Sweden. “We are at a very exciting stage right now, with our Matrix-M going into Phase III trials, with results hopefully at the end of this year,” Andréasson said.
Novavax has received funding from for example Gates Foundation and BARDA. Andréasson also mentioned that, having experience from several European and worldwide life science companies, seeking funding in the EU is much more complex than in the US and he requested a more pragmatic, straight forward system like in the US.
There was also a discussion about the Zika virus and how EU would distribute emergency funding, is the large corporations getting the largest sum and is there a risk that small innovative ideas never gets a chance?
A leader in bioproduction
The opening session included a positive speech from Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Sweden’s Minister for Higher Education and Research, for example emphasizing the role of SciLifeLab, ESS and the new Wallenberg Center for Protein Research (WCPR), hoping to make Sweden a leader in bioproduction, and the importance of having common goals and strategies.
After the opening session it was time for a plenary session on the theme: Environment in 2016: Reverse engineering the ecosystem, including panelists Jan Lundberg from Eli Lilly and Company, Shaun Grady from AstraZeneca and Bernd Seizinger from Aprea, who recently raised SEK 437 million in a Series B financing round – the largest private financing to date by one of its portfolio companies, and more broadly by any private life science company in Sweden in the last decade.
Jan M Lundberg, Eli Lilly and Company