Op 15 januari sprak het vaktijdschrift voor medische innovatie MedNous met Dr. Chris De Jonghe, hoofd Life Sciences & Care bij PMV, over de rol van PMV in de Vlaamse biotech. U leest het volledige Engelstalige interview hieronder.
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In just 10 years, the PMV investment group in the Flanders region of Belgium has made a return of 2.2 times its invested capital from life science. This is impressive considering the fact that the company is not purely a financial investor. PMV, which stands for Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen, has one shareholder: the government of Flanders. And its mandate is to foster economic development in the region.
In an interview, Chris De Jonghe, head of life sciences and care at PMV, said this means increasing employment, attracting new capital to the region and supporting innovation. The company’s dedicated life science fund is currently invested in 26 companies. Assuming that all of these enterprises are successful, the amount of money flowing into the region could be 10 times the invested amount, the executive said.
The companies include new enterprises in medical therapeutics, diagnostics and in agricultural life science. One recent start-up, Aelin Therapeutics NV, is working on a new class of antibiotics against human targets that thus far have been undruggable. The company, a spin-out of the VIB research institute in Flanders, raised €27 million in a Series A round in December 2017 from a syndicate led by LSP of the Netherlands together with PMV, the Novartis Venture Fund and the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund.
A second company, Rewind Therapeutics SA, was launched in January to develop re-myelinating therapies for patients with multiple sclerosis and other myelin-related diseases. Its Series A funding amounted to €15.2 million (Please see stories on pages 23 and 26 of this issue).
PMV’s strategy is to invest early and support companies with follow-on money as they pass through milestones on their way to commercialising their first products. The follow-on money comes from a dedicated evergreen fund within the life science division, which had €180 million at the end of 2016.
Not all of PMV’s investments are start-ups but the group often does target new projects. An example of the latter is its €5 million contribution to a Series B financing round in 2013 for Argenx NV, the antibody therapeutics developer. Argenx used the proceeds to bring its lead product for autoimmune diseases, ARGX-113, into the clinic. Positive trial data from this project helped the company prepare for an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares on the US Nasdaq market in May 2017. The company eventually raised $266 million.
To date, PMV’s life science division has secured five successful exits for companies in its portfolio and overseen three IPOs. While most of its capital is invested directly in companies, it also acts as a limited partner in several venture capital funds. To qualify for PMV funding, life science companies need to do a substantial amount of their business in Flanders. Having said that, biotech is a global business and there are benefits to creating strong networks outside the country, Dr De Jonghe said. “Our ambition is to be a reference investor for our companies,” she said, explaining that a PMV investment should be a quality stamp that brings more business to the region.
– By Victoria English, 15 January 2018