We’ve returned from another successful BIO Europe conference, this time in Vienna.
We regret not having much time to walk around in Vienna.
However, this did not take away from the success of the conference.
Here are a few observations as we begin our follow-up process:
Over 3,000 attendees made their way to Vienna for BIO Europe.
We don’t know if this was a record, but it was certainly higher than the ~2,900 who attended the 2012 conference in Hamburg.
Going through our business cards, we find that 55% were from Europe (no surprise), with about a third of these coming from companies in Austria and Germany.
The rest of our cards came from companies in North America (29%), Asia (13%), and the rest from MENA and South America. This is fairly consistent with previous editions of BIO Europe.
There was a greater interest in Preclinical assets, but this interest remains selective.
It still depends on the therapeutic area’s “requirements” for POC and differentiation.
We were especially pleased to meet with venture investors who are actively seeking Preclinical assets for company formation.
In the US, we tend to think of the OTC and Rx businesses as two separate entities, with different strategies, tactics, etc.
At BIO Europe, we spoke with several European companies who are using their OTC and OTX product lines as ways to expand existing relationships with prescribers, wholesalers, and pharmacies.
Given this morphed business model, several European companies expressed an interest in identifying and licensing OTC and OTX products backed with clinical data.
The Rx reimbursement environment in Europe is also driving this shift, as more and more patients are trying OTC/OTX products as first line therapy.
These products, which are “recommended” by physicians, are obviously paid for out-of-pocket.
As a result, physicians can be detailed for both Rx and OTC/OTX products, using clinical data as the rationale for their recommendations to their patients.
That’s a dramatically different way of thinking about these two businesses.
Will US companies follow suit?
Financing remains a challenge for many companies, even in the midst of a frothy IPO market (at least in the US).
However, as mentioned before, interesting assets in select therapeutic categories will get the attention of both companies and investors.
It will be interesting to see if this IPO party will continue at JP Morgan in January.
We think that the receptions at BIO Europe are priceless opportunities to meet important contacts. We estimate that 20-25% of the new contacts met in Vienna were made at the evening receptions.
Yes the lines on Monday night were long, but it was still worth attending all three receptions (and staying until the end…).
The IPO/Financial markets will likely stay open for some companies, but not all.
As a result, we see 2014 as another year where creative approaches to corporate strategy and licensing will continue.
The morphing of OTC/Rx business models is a fascinating one to watch, especially if companies in the US attempt to mimic this approach.
Whether this means we’ll see more headline-grabbing deals or not is another matter.
If anything, we continue to find that some of the more interesting deals are the ones that don’t make the “fierce” headlines.
Lastly, we think EBD continues to deliver a valuable partnering platform.
Yes, it’s exhausting when you have 45-50 meetings in 2 1/2 days.
But, as we are fond of saying…you can always sleep on the plane.