Antoine Papiernik, Managing Partner at the famous European biotech VC Sofinnova, closed Refresh this year with a keynote on the next big thing in biotech.
Papiernik has more than 20 years of experience as a VC investor and has helped build major European biotechs like Actelion, ProQR or Movetis. Being part of the leading edge of biotech innovation, Papiernik was able to give us an impressive overview of what’s happening in biotech right now, and where the field is heading.
Papiernik highlighted three key areas in biotech that, to him, have the potential to bring something game-changing to the industry, but are located at various stages of the ‘Gartner Hype Cycle‘. The most obvious field he talked about is immuno-oncology, which according to Papiernik, might actually be at the peak of inflated expectations right now. “We’re certainly not there yet,” he commented, explaining that so far immuno-oncology drugs make up only $2.5B of the $100B oncology market.
Yet, Papiernik believes that there is still huge potential, considering a number of combination trials that are currently running. “As investors, we don’t really 100% know what’s the next big thing. So we need to give it a try and have investments in various areas of immuno-oncology to make sure that we don’t miss that wave.”
Apart from immuno-oncology, Papiernik pointed out that new technologies such as sequencing techniques or CRISPR will impact the importance of orphan drugs in the next decade. “People have caught on to the fact that you can target a rare disease and that might actually take you to a market that’s worthwhile,” he said. According to Papiernik, the turnover from the orphan drug space should dramatically increase over the next years.
Finally, Papiernik believes that there will be a huge amount of growth in the field of RNA therapeutics, as companies like Moderna, BioNTech, and CureVac are attracting massive amounts of funding to bring the first of these technologies to the market. “Here, we are still quite early on the technology trigger,” he commented.
Yet, Papiernik concludes that in the end “whatever the technology, the only thing that makes the company a success is its ability to bring a product to the market that answers an unmet medical need.” For Papiernik, the actual next big thing is focussing on what’s really important, the patient.
Check out the video to hear more about Papiernik’s views on the biotech field and how investors are trying to catch the next big wave.