Inside Biotech’s Most Secretive Elite Conference: MorphoSys Talks on Investor Speed Dating in California


MorphoSys is the Biggest Biotech in Germany, and second biggest in Europe – so it is no wonder they were selected for access to the exclusive J.P.Morgan Conference in San-Francisco last week. Here, the MorphoSys team, which included Claudia Gutjahr-Löser and the CEO Simon Moroney, give you a sneak-insiders look into one of the most elite Biotech conferences of the year…

It is always impressive to approach San Francisco airport, flying over the bay with the landmark of the Golden Gate Bridge. Every biotech year starts with a “Big Bang” – i.e. the J.P.Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

Some ten thousand investors, analysts, consultants and company representatives assemble around beautiful Union Square right in the heart of San Francisco. Most of the time we really appreciate the escape from the German winter, even if this means being locked in hotel rooms (which are regularly reshuffled as meeting spaces during the day). And then of course there is the constant battle against jet lag…


Claudia Gutjahr-Löser is Head of Corporate Relations and Investor Relations at MorphoSys in Munich (© MorphoSys)

The MorphoSys team always arrives at the weekend before the conference start, to adapt to the timezone and prep on Sunday. The meetings at and around the conference really start to pick-up on Monday morning, and you can see a lot of people dashing through the streets and hallways of the Hotels Metropolis, rushing from one half-hour meeting to the next.

Most sessions actually only go on for 20 minutes, as everyone arrives late and leaves a bit earlier for the next ‘date’ in another hotel. With 15-20 meetings a day and 4 days in a row, everything is a bit crazy. Thus, taking proper meeting notes is key to remember with whom you talked about what, and of any promises of communications you may have made.

On the last day, we launched our company presentation.

Most of the European companies were presenting on the last day of the conference, and we kicked-off the day with a 7:30am slot. Despite the early start and falling stock prices, the room was packed with investors.


The MorphoSys Presentation on the final day of the JPM Conference in San Francisco (© MorphoSys)

With an updated presentation, a fresh look at the new year and some exciting outlook on upcoming milestones, it is all about getting investors excited about the equity story and trying to stand out within the landscape of companies in the field.

All in all, the JPM is always a great start to the year, with an energizing atmosphere and hot discussion, continuing to a more informal side at the many evening receptions.

The 2016  conference was somewhat different in comparison to the previous year though. For example, the NASDAQ Biotech index reached an 18-month low right during the middle of the conference, weighing heavily on the mood of attendees.


Union Square in San Francisco was the Showground for the Biotech Buzz (© MorphoSys)

In addition, multiple medical needs out there are still waiting to be solved, and everyone is asking if we could be approaching the end of the healthcare ‘Bull Market‘. Or at the very least, a temporary closing of the financing window…

Despite this, everybody agreed that no fundamental changes had taken place, and that the industry is in an excellent shape, with R&D pipelines filled and a lot of key regulatory and approval milestones within good reach.

So, definitely another exciting year in Biotech lies ahead of us…and as we leave town, our eyes are drawn back to the Bay Area to catch one last view of Golden Gate Bridge. We will be back next year!

Watch our Interview with MophoSys’ CEO Simon Moroney at BIO-Europe 2015 in Munich.

Feature Image Credit:  Remix of Graphics (Source: PO / MorphoSys / J.P. Morgan)
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