January 1, 1970 (Vol. , No. )

Susan Aldridge, Ph.D.

Damon Marron, CEO of Trophos – a French company developing novel small molecules for neuromuscular disease – tells me that they are about to announce a deal worth 6.7 million Euros from the patient group AFM. The finance will enable them to do a full efficacy study for their lead compound in spinal muscular atrophy. AFM, which is dedicated to helping people with myopathies, has been working with Trophos from the start. Damon adds that it’s not unusual to get funding from a patient association when an orphan disease, like SMA, is involved. The finance will really ‘extend the runway’ of the company.

He’s also pleased that the French government has delivered on their promise to speed up payment of tax credits for small companies in recognition of the financial issues some are facing. So now, instead of having to wait four years for a refund, the money is available immediately – a reform that can really slow down the cash burn.

The meeting has been a hive of activity all three days but what about the metrics? According to EBD’s own website– a total of 7,104 meetings had been scheduled as of noon on Day Two. And while participation at this year’s event was up 15 percent over BioEurope Spring 2008 in Madrid, the level of partnering activity between life science executives was up by 22 percent here in Milan. This spike in meetings indicates the quality of licensing opportunities, and partnerships providing a vital route to securing corporate funding. In short, the only way this industry can survive – and grow – through tough financial times is by intensifying its deal-making activities.

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