Basel, May 30th, 2024. The Swiss Healthcare Licensing Group (Swiss HLG), a non-profit association of Business Development and Licensing professionals, held its annual flagship conference in a beautiful setting in Montreux. 

Over two and a half days, nearly 100 delegates from Switzerland, Europe, the UK, the US and Asia gathered by Lake Geneva to explore and discuss the topic ¨Back to Dealmaking!¨

The conference opened with a Key Note speech from Avaleigh Milne, the Global head of Business Development Strategy & Practice at Roche, who shared her thoughts on how venture capital, biotech and pharma are all essential players in the biopharma ecosystem, helping to sustain a continued flow of innovation for patients. 

The second Key Note speech from Ed Saltzman, Senior Strategic Advisor at Lumanity, asked whether it is time to rethink biopharma dealmaking. Ed is well known for his provocative and insightful talks and this was certainly no exception. He provided a sobering analysis of the large number of biotechs seeking partnerships for late stage clinical assets, and pointed out that their chance of obtaining reulatory approval is actually far higher than of securing a pharma deal. The conclusion was that companies need to start planning early for what is needed to successfully commercialise themselves – and doing this work may well actually increase their chance of finding a partner. The link to Ed’s presentation is given below.

Over the following two days, leading experts from the healthcare industry presented on three main themes and gave very interesting perspectives for the future.

The first session explored whether dealmaking should be strategic or more opportunistic. We learned from three fascinating and different case studies. Organon was spun out of Merck & Co with no development pipeline in women’s health, so business development was essential to build the franchise. We heard how this was achieved through a thoughtful, deliberate strategy, while still leaving space for some opportunism. We then heard from Endogena Therapeutics about the very different approach of building a portfolio organically based on a propietary platform technology and how fundraising and partnering evolves as each technology proof point is delivered. The session finished with valuable insights into the unique Roivant business model and learned some of the secrets behind its tremendous success.

The lens then shifted to the funding environment. Speakers shared perspectives on the dealmaking landscape in Switzerland and a more global view on how biopharmas structured and funded recent notable M&A transactions. The afternoon finished with a lively panel with a range of venture capital firms sharing perspectives on current and future opportunities and challenges when raising capital.

In the final session delegates heard how artificial intelligence is impacting our industry. The first talk focused specifically on how the Swiss HLG community can leverage artifical intelligence to take their dealmaking to the next level. We then heard from Insilico Medicines and Exscientia about how they are accelerating and improving the actual process of drug discovery with tools such as machine learning, robotics and automation – including robots that can dance! 

The conference wrapped up with an insightful Key Note from Thomas Devenyns from McKinsey on whether AI is finally delivering on its promise to improve pharma industry productivity. Thomas emphasised the critical importance of structuring data and fully embedding AI into day to day processes. While there are already quick wins in areas such as document writing, the biggest opportunity is to increase the successful translation of science into new medicines.

The stimulating conference gave participants the opportunity to take full advantage of networking in person while enjoying a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Geneva.

The Swiss HLG Board thanks all presenters as well as the participants for the lively discussions and interactions. Please find below some images from the conference.

We thank our sponsors for their crucial and valued support.

Click here to view photos from the conference 2024