There was a new mood of optimism about French biotech at the recent 9th European Biotech Crossroads meeting in Lille. The reason was that France recently had its first biotech IPOs since 1999 with the float on Euronext of ExonHit Therapeutic (www.exonhit.com) and BioAlliance Pharma (www.bioalliancepharma.com).
As well as ExonHit and BioAlliance, there are six French companies that could list in the next year. So there is a glimmer of hope for French biotech, stated Denis Lucquin, a managing partner of venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners.
Many at the conference agreed that Frances biotech industry has been in the doldrums for several years, while the U.K. and Germany have been able to thrive. In Germany we have a set of visible public biotech companies such as Qiagen and MorphoSys with solid revenue and successful product introductions. This is not the case in France. We also have a number of strong IPO candidates too, which makes German biotech more attractive than French, stated Hubert Birner, Ph.D., a general partner at the Germany venture capital company TVM.
Since the sale of Genset, Frances fastest growing biotech, we have had a lack of success stories. Many of our public companies, for example NicOx, Transgene, and Cerep, all have similar market capitalizations today as they did when they listed several years ago, and this is making French investors fearful that they will not get their money back if they invest in French biotechs, Lucquin added.