The newly employed Head of Biotech Investments in The Norwegian Cancer Society, Sigrid Fossheim, has already had several meetings with potential oncology companies to invest in. – We aim to make our first investment before the Summer of 2014, says Fossheim.
The Norwegian Cancer Society is the largest private contributor to cancer research in Norway. Annually the Society grants approximately MNOK 180 to cancer research.
Earlier this year the Norwegian Cancer Society announced they would start investing in early-stage companies and projects within oncology. Head of Biotech Investments Sigrid Fossheim, known from Oslo Cancer Cluster members as Epitarget and Clavis Pharma, has already had meetings with several companies and Tech Transfer Offices (TTO`s), hoping to tap into the available funding of MNOK 75 over five years.
Will make a difference
“We have some specific criterias for our investments of course, but for us the overall goal is to accelerate the development of new therapies and diagnostics for the benefit of the cancer patients. The rule of thumb when we invest is, that we will make a difference, meaning the funding should release the potential of a project and help the company through a critical phase where capital is scarce, says Fossheim
And adds: “A successful investment from our perspective implies that the company for instance has been able to undertake critical and risk reducing project activities rendering it more attractive to larger investors that can further finance the company to project commercialisation and patient benefit.”
As a general rule at least one co-investor should invest in the project or company in collaboration with the Norwegian Cancer Society.
“Having a co-investor is important for us in order to learn the do`s and don’ts of the trade. We have a tight dialogue with all actors in the field, both public and private, including the TTO`s,” says Ole Alexander Opdalshei, Deputy Secretary General.
Hope to inspire others to invest
The news that the Norwegian Cancer Society would start investing was very well received by the oncology community when the initiative was first announced in May this year. For the Society this is an entirely new role, and a very different role than funding cancer research, says Opdalshei.
“For us this is a political statement as well. We hope that through investing, the government and private investors understand that there is a huge need for capital to take oncology research from bench to bedside. We see too few promising projects reach the cancer patients, due to lack of funding in some critical phases. Hopefully our entry onto this scene will inspire others to take the leap – in collaboration with us,” says Opdalshei.
The Society will at the start of the 2014 have meetings with both Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council, addressing the need for more early-stage funding in this area.
“We were very surprised and let down when we got the news that none of the governmental seed capital funds went to biomedicine. This is an area that deserves funding to transform the excellent research to actual patient care, says Opdalshei.
Contact us and set up a meeting
Fossheim encourages oncology start-ups and TTO`s that need funding, to contact her and set up a meeting for a first evaluation.
“If the company or TTO has a promising project that falls within the scope of the Society’s investment mandate, we will encourage the company/TTO to apply for investment funds, following some overall guidelines and providing the necessary documentation. If the evaluation of the company is positive with amongst other the fulfillment of the Society’s investment criterias – an investment proposal will be presented to the Investment Committee for recommendation. The board of the Norwegian Cancer Society will however have the final decision-making authority with regard to investments recommended by the Investment Committee, “says Fossheim.
Flowchart investment process Norwegian Cancer Society.
Facts – Norwegian Cancer Society`s Investments in Oncology:
- MNOK 75 over a five-year period
- Early-stage companies/projects
- Investment criterias at an organizational level:
1) Unlisted companies
2) Main business area within oncology
3) Well –organised and professionally run projects/companies
- Investment criterias at a project level:
1) Unique product with high potential for improved cancer care
2) Unmet medical needs addressed
3) Patent protection
4) Competent and experienced team
5) Proven capability in project execution
6) Clear and achievable milestone plan
7) Robust and suitable business model
8) Low negative, reputation risk
9) Conformity with the ethical guidelines of the Norwegian Cancer Society
Investment Committee members:
- Terje Kalland, Chief Scientific Officer, Karolinska Development
- Hans Peter Bøhn, physician and former healthcare analyst at Fondsfinans
- Tom Pike, life science industry professional
- Hilde Steineger, Head of Innovation Management, Pronova Biopharma
- James Lorens, Professor at University of Bergen and co-founder of BerGenBio
For more information:
Contact Sigrid Fossheim, Head of Biotech Investments, The Norwegian Cancer Society: firstname.lastname@example.org /+ 47 982 38 465
About the Norwegian Cancer Society
The Norwegian Cancer Society is a nationwide organization that addresses the challenges of cancer and funding research is its main priority. The Society provides approximately 25 per cent of all direct funding for cancer research in Norway, and is also actively involved in cancer prevention and international collaboration.
The Society’s main goals are s to reduce cancer incidence, increase cancer survival and achieve optimal life quality for cancer patients and their families.
Read more on the Norwegian Cancer Society’s website.