Despite the overall environment, “there’s opportunity for entrepreneurship,” Dr. Ledley comments.
Shah advises start-up companies to form around a portfolio of ideas. “That means having more than one inventor at the table,” he says. Another trend, he says, is for funds to finance companies because of the team rather than their technology. Ovation Pharmaceuticals is a case in point. Its management team licensed-in the technology it needed to develop a viable product, which helped it win funding.
“Fundamentals are important,” Landekic continues. “In the past, you could raise financing based upon stories. Today, the focus is on quality, clinical data, business prospects, and the management team.”
Experience, not just in the industry, but in raising capital and taking a compound through development to commercialization is vital. “This is the most adverse financing environment in the history of biotech. Investors want seasoned people,” notes Landekic. His advice? “Be tenacious. Be indefatigable.”
The overarching survival strategy, Quillen says, may be simply to hibernate. Leverage strengths and maximize opportunities, but most of all, cut costs. Sublease office space. Reduce headcount. Shelve all but key projects. Do what it takes to survive.