The need for stable measures, incentives to attract investments in startups and national SMEs, creating funds in order to develop the biotech sector, new resources and projects for technology transfer; this and much more was discussed during the fourth appointment of the project “Biotech, the best future – For our health, for our environment, for Italy“, a 4 stage journey which took place between June and October. Institutions, representatives of companies, public and research bodies and more generally, the stakeholders of the national biotech ecosystem, discussed their situation and the necessary intervention priorities, not only to allow growth for their own sector, but above all to initiate a sustainable restart for the country. A widespread and articulated project, devised by Assobiotec, (National Association for the development of biotechnologies and part of Federchimica) which will be finalized in a Manifesto, and especially in a Position Paper with operational proposals for sector growth, business development and the country’s relaunch which will be presented on November 9th 2020 in Rome.
The roundtable discussion of last October 12th entitled “Investing in the future” reflected on the issues of technology transfer and attracting capital. Objective: to imagine valid solutions for the growth of national biotech startups and SMEs. Pierluigi Paracchi – Founder and CEO Genenta and member of the Board of Directors of Assobiotec, Federica Draghi – Investment Director of Genextra and member of the Board of Directors of Assobiotec, Filippo Satolli – CEO StartupItalia, Federico Testa – President of ENEA, Agenzia national for new technologies, Alessio Beverina – Managing Partner Panakes and Secretary of VC Hub Italia, Luca Pagetti – Head of Startup Growth Financing – Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center SPA were some of the speakers involved.
“For the first time – says Pierluigi Paracchi, Founder and CEO of Genenta and member of the Board of Assobiotec – after years in which we worked as Assobiotec to make people understand the importance of technology transfer and support for startups and national biotech SMEs, the signal we were waiting for has arrived: A combined total of € 650 million from CDP Venture Capital funds and Fondazione Enea Tech. Now, to feel its impact, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive and clear timetable. One thing, in fact, is to unload 650 million on the ground in a year, another is to divide them into 5 parts. The key element is to direct and coordinate these resources to outstanding companies in order to make them champions of national innovation who hire staff, generate value and launch a sector, thereby creating a virtuous circle which then feeds itself “.
According to Filippo Satolli, CEO StartupItalia, “The startup ecosystem is an extremely fertile system. Just think that there are over 800 innovative startups which have begun from the beginning of 2020. In the first half of the year, over 260 million loans were registered, with 6 important exits. However, in order for startups to take that extra step and for large companies to be able to conceive the culture of startups and open up to innovation, it’s important to carry out educational activities. A large company must see a great stimulus in order to be innovative and increasingly competitive in terms of research and development in small and medium enterprises. Large companies can play an important role in innovation; for doing this they must speak to the ecosystem involving as many players as possible: startups, corporate, public administration, institutions, public opinion and activities with other large companies“.
“Our newly born ENEA Tech Foundation – adds Federico Testa, President of ENEA – began with the idea of being available where it’s really needed, in a logic of service. Our goal, to be carried out in collaboration and through an open dialogue with all the actors involved, is to systematize scientific and technical skills in order to optimize the current technology transfer model that has seen the multiplication of TT offices in the past within Italian universities, even where there was no critical mass, without any coordination and capacity for dialogue. It’s a system that must be made more efficient in order to allow good ideas to reach the market quickly without losing sight of the time factor, which is really crucial especially in this area“.
Moving on to the theme of attracting investments and growth incentives:
“80% of the biotech industries in Italy are small and micro-sized. Although VC’s investments have increased, these are funds that only manage to support a biotech startup in the early stages. Today, anyone who launches a biotech startup reaches a certain point and then is forced to look for funds abroad: they create a branch in the United States, try to go public on Nasdaq or look for an acquisition by a strategic company, usually foreign. – says Federica Draghi, Investment Director of Genextra and member of the Board of Directors of Assobiotec – Investments in innovative startups in Italy have an average denomination of 6 million euros, when in Europe the average is 20 million euros: these figures don’t allow Italian startups to grow by passing through advanced stages of research and development. Even European biotech companies are struggling in the face of those in the US that receive 5 times the private funding of a European biotech. Therefore we need to feed an ecosystem that offers the startup that wants to grow a range of sources to draw on to find the necessary resources to get to the marketing of the product, without leaving Italy. First of all, larger VC funds are needed, accompanied by a public market with the right appetite and a greater presence of strategic operators interested in forming partnerships or acquisitions“.
“VC HUB has launched a roundtable among its partners in the Life Sciences, in order to make proposals to the legislator based on data and points of view of investors and startups. Among the various proposals is to create a tax credit in research for innovative startups and SMEs, with particular characteristics that will be indicated later. In this way, even the Italian startups in Life Science can aim at becoming successful companies and competing internationally” says Alessio Beverina – Managing Partner of Panakes and Secretary of VC HUB Italia.
The project “Biotech, the best future – For our health, for our environment, for Italy” is run by Assobiotec with the support of StartupItalia and thanks to the support of AbbVie, Alexion, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Dembiotech, DiaSorin, Genenta, Genextra, MolMed, Novartis, Qiagen, Rottapharm Biotech, Sanofi and UCB Pharma.