Perhaps the biggest story in biotech over the past few years has been the resurrected IPO window. Since the start of 2013, more than 120 biotechs have taken the leap from private to public. And this year alone, even despite some jittery moments in the market, Massachusetts has already set a record pace for life sciences offerings. Biotechs now have the very real option to grow independently, negotiate deals from a position of strength, and not rely on a Big Pharma buyout to provide returns for their investors.
Of course, it’s not like you can just flip a switch and hypnotize sophisticated public investors to buy into your biotech startup—even in a bull market. It takes much more than a juicy scientific idea, which is why so many fledgling companies either downsize their deals, or never make it through the IPO queue. What are the keys to success? What does it take to build a biotech startup from scratch, persevere, and convince the public markets to buy into it? How can you do so even when the macroeconomic environment isn’t in your favor? And how do these companies mean to really change the world and improve people’s health?
On the evening of Oct. 8, at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, we’re going to find out. We’ve rounded up the leaders and founding stakeholders of three Boston companies that have held some of the most successful recent life sciences IPOs, and made them the stars of our latest event, “Boston’s Life Science Disruptors.” These three companies will share their stories—and their vision for disrupting healthcare–during a unique, interactive night of networking and discussions. Here’s the lineup of panelists we’ve put together.
The Sage Therapeutics story
Sage (NASDAQ: SAGE) is developing a group of drugs for rare, or specialty central nervous system disorders.
Kevin Starr: Co-founder of Third Rock Ventures who has helped form and develop the strategy for a number of the firm’s biotechs.
Jeffrey Jonas: CEO of Sage and a former Shire executive who came aboard in 2013 and led the company through an upsized $90 million IPO in July, in the midst of an industry-wide pullback.
The Zafgen story
Zafgen (NASDAQ: ZFGN) is advancing a fat-burning drug for severely obese people, and obesity related to certain rare disorders.
Peter Barrett: Partner at Atlas Venture and founding CEO (and current chairman) of Zafgen, which was seeded by the firm in 2006.
Bruce Booth: Partner in Atlas’ life science group who served as Zafgen’s initial COO. Booth has helped put together a number of Atlas biotech startups, focusing on biopharmaceutical products, therapeutic platforms, and biomedical technologies.
Thomas Hughes: A former Novartis scientist who became Zafgen’s CEO in 2008 and steered it towards an upsized $96 million offering in June.
The Epizyme story
Epizyme (NASDAQ: EPZM) is using epigenetics—a field of biology based on the idea of turning genes on and off without affecting the underlying DNA—to create cancer drugs for specific patient groups.
Jason Rhodes: Epizyme’s president and chief financial officer, and a former venture capitalist and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals business development executive. Rhodes helped lead Epizyme through a series of partnerships with Celgene, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and others, and eventually to an IPO priced at the top of its projected range. Shares now trade at more than double Epizyme’s $15 per share IPO price.
Space is limited, and tickets are going fast, so be sure to take advantage of our early bird discount before it expires on Sept. 3. Hope to see you all at Novartis on Oct. 8.
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