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Financing Q&A: “Make sure your investors can add more than just money!”

Jonas Hansson

Jonas Hansson is a Venture Partner at HealthCap, a European venture capital firm investing exclusively and globally in life sciences.

What kind of companies are you and your colleagues focusing your investments on? And what stages? 

“We invest in companies/assets in the precision medicine (right medicine for the right patient) space. We like to be early into the equity meaning that we often invest in seed or Series A financings. We also like to start companies ourselves around certain assets we identify. On the asset side, we like to invest in assets that have at least generated strong pre-clinical data in relevant disease models, or assets that are in early clinical development.”

What are some of your basic criteria to invest capital in a company? What factors do you consider especially important? 

“The criteria we look for are significant unmet medical need, where the product(s) we invest in has the potential to significantly improve the life of the patient it addresses, well-understood disease biology and mechanism of action for the drug(s) that the company is developing, and a strong team and IP. We also make sure we see a development plan forward (all the way to approval of NDA/BLA/MAA) that is possible to finance in the VC community, i.e., we should not be dependent on the public market or having to do a deal with large pharma/biotech. As I mentioned, we want to be early into the equity but invest in assets that are a bit more advanced.”

Could you give an example of a common mistake among startups? 

“That they have a very optimistic view on timelines, and hence capital needs, and as a result they are often under financed.”

Could you mention a current strength or trend among Sweden’s life science companies? 

“Swedish companies have become better at attracting also international investors. We always syndicate with other VC’s when we invest in a company, and we often invite international investors into the deals we work on.”

What advice do you have for small and mid-sized life science companies looking to raise capital? 

“Make sure you get the right investors onboard, i.e., those who can add more than just money, for example experience and networks.”

Photo: Dan Coleman