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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Crossing the Pond

As European biotech companies play catch up with the US, Hanns-Peter Wiese and Dr Stephen J McCormack at Global Life Science Ventures explore the mutual benefits of transatlantic venture capital collaboration

The worldwide economy is undergoing a fundamental transformation, with far-reaching changes in many sectors of business affecting the lives of billions of people on all continents. The pace of technological and scientific development, particularly in the life sciences, will continue to have an ever-growing impact on the lives of individuals and society as a whole. These changes will present both opportunities and challenges for the life science industry and its players. The traditional pattern of big pharmaceutical companies on the one side and small biotechnology start-ups on the other is fading, with a group of biotechnology companies, primarily from the US, having built fully integrated businesses that are publicly listed at comparable capitalisations. Both are in need of innovative technologies and new products to fill their sales pipelines.

To fill the commercial gap, there is another category of international company that has come to exist between the established global players in healthcare. These are young biotech, medtech and healthcare service companies that have to manoeuvre their way to a unique competitive or strategic advantage. In some cases, they have been formed as a consequence of the identification of synergistic technologies that have been developed across the globe.

However, there are many different ways that such global start-ups can come into existence – it may be as simple as a cost advantage in manufacturing or a trained talent pool in a particular geography. Many of these companies have a single product or platform and seek to occupy a small niche in the market or have an opportunity to enter a large existing market. Therefore, venture capital (VC) has a major role to play in supporting these companies in their start-up, early-stage and more advanced stages of business development, extending well beyond simply providing capital.


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Hanns-Peter Wiese is a Partner of Global Life Science Ventures with 18 years’ investment experience in private equity and life science venture capital. Since co-founding Global Life Science Ventures in 1996 he has been Managing Director of the Munich office. From 1993 he was a Director of Corporate Finance with HypoVereinsbank in Munich. Before that, Hanns-Peter was a Director with Euro Synergies SA in Paris and an Investment Manager with 3i Investors in Industry plc, in their Frankfurt office. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Hamburg, Germany.

Dr Stephen J McCormack is a Partner of Global Life Science Ventures and has more than 18 years’ experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He has been involved as CEO in the formation, capitalisation and operation of transatlantic start-up companies in biotechnology and medical technology. His experience ranges from fundamental research and technology development to intellectual property and commercialisation of therapeutics. He received his PhD in Biomolecular Science and Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

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Hanns-Peter Wiese
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Dr Stephen J McCormack
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