seed finding

Traditional funding sources are insufficient.

In the same way crowdfunding has revolutionised IT and lower capital projects, what new approaches can fill the gap for biotech?



Film companies are essentially distribution and market companies. The actual films are made by what can best be described as time-limited companies:


With a film, an investor puts up the money for what appears to be a good script from a talented author. The best director and actors are then sought. Other less well known actors are also employed and associated work such as set design and catering are outsourced. After the film is made everybody goes their separate ways and onto a new job. The film is distributed and success depends on audience review

This is the essence of the Hollywood model, just change the words:

A biotech investor puts up money for what appears to be a good drug discovery project from successful academics. A strong manager and talented scientists are then sought. Non-critical work such as synthetic chemistry and assays are outsourced. After the project is completed everybody goes their separate ways and onto a new job. The project passes on to clinical trials and success depends on subsequent performance


Over the years a default business model has evolved where venture capital invests in university spinouts to create biotech companies and pharmaceutical companies subsequently fund collaborations or purchase the more developed company outright. Few biotechs get their products to market while retaining their independence.

But there are unexploited gaps in this model. VCs are looking for patent protected opportunities with potential for high returns and can only fund a fraction of the proposals that they see. Furthermore, only a small number of researchers actual go through the process of commercialisation meaning that many opportunities lay untouched

This is why there is an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to look directly at universities. Not only are there are many unfunded opportunities but pharmaceutical companies do not need the economic multipliers that a VC requires and can consider a broader range of projects.

At the current time, with VC funding in low abundance there is an even stronger chance that pharma-relevant opportunities are being left unexplored. In principle, pharmaceutical companies are well placed to plug part of this gap provided that they do not stifle the innovation with big-company management.

To exploit these opportunities requires different ways of working. Up till now, pharmaceutical companies have viewed universities as a source of broad institution based collaborations rather than as a source of specific biotech-like business opportunities.

By working with us, we will develop approaches whereby these innovative opportunities can be considered.