BIO2015: Vertex founder tells VCs to cool it on the science, stick to investment
- BioPharma Dive is in Philadelphia attending the annual BIO conference, where tens of thousands of professionals, scientists, and investors in biotechnology congregate to discuss the latest trends in the biotechnology sector.
- It's no secret that biotech is booming. And as we've previously reported, venture capital is starting to come back into the sector after a significant cooldown in the wake of the global recession. But at least one major biotech veteran is criticizing the manner in which firms are supplying this funding.
- During a panel discussion at BIO, Vertex founder Joshua Boger (also a former CEO of the firm) said that venture firms should essentially butt of out the science and leave it to the, well, scientists, and take more chances on small, early-stage firms instead of making very specific and late-stage scientific demands.
Boger's call-out is sure to resonate with a hefty portion of the industry, particularly R&D chiefs who may feel stymied by a serious lack of Series A and seed funding for smaller firms with more unproven technologies. "Venture capitalists used to serve as human capital managing partners," said Boger. "They by and large didn’t question me on the science."
Now, according to Boger, VCs place far too much emphasis on the proven nature of a therapy or a technology before tossing their cash into the ring. As BioPharma Dive has previously reported, this could be a threat to wider innovation in the sector.
Other panelists weren't quite on the same page, as Med City News notes. For instance, MIT's Robert Langer asserted that this selectiveness and criticism of scientists' approaches to platforms actually underscored growing sophistiction and prudential behavior on the part of VCs.
Stay tuned for more on this critical issue—and more insight out of BIO—soon.