Last Thursday at the London Stock Exchange over 100 attendees from the UK life science industry and investor community gathered for a day showcasing investment opportunities in the healthcare sector. Following on from yesterday’s blog on the keynotes and company showcases, here we summarise some of the advice from representatives from four publicly listed companies.

Listed companies

As well as pitches from non-listed companies, key representatives from a number of public listed companies set out their organisations’ histories and growth and offered insights for companies considering going public.

Peter George, CEO of Clinigen, advised:

  • As a public listed company you learn a lot from investors
  • Always pick partners that you trust – and then keep them
  • Make sure all stakeholders are on board
  • AIM is a good market for Healthcare and Pharma
  • Remember private investors too
  • Be clear, do what you say, and keep it simple
  • Embrace the experience
  • You can never predict how the market will react

BTG’s CFO, Rolf Soderstrom, described the company’s focus on specialist products including interventional oncology, and how the company has created value for investors, with the BTG share price rising ten-fold and the market cap growing from £123 million to £3 billion between 2004-2014.

Steve Harris, CEO of Circassia, outlined how the allergy therapeutic company built on a sound basis – of proof of concept in several therapies with great safety and efficacy records, plus a patient-friendly micro-needle delivery device – to achieve the largest biotech IPO on the London market to date. Despite being advised that a US listing was ‘the only way’, Circassia tested out US and UK roadshows and found there was appetite at both. As a UK based company developing UK (UCL) technology, the team decided to list on the London Stock Exchange main market. Harris said that the huge drive, energy and commitment from all partners – including their sponsor, book runners, co-managers, lawyers, accountants and investor relations team – was a crucial factor in their success so far. Business news channel CNBC interviewed several speakers, including Steve Harris, during the conference.

Steve Harris on CNBC

Circassia’s Steve Harris on CNBC

In the final listed company example Kym Denny, CEO of Retroscreen Virology, described how the company addresses a ‘pain point’ for the industry – the attrition rate of the traditional drug development process. Their hVIVO human test platform, founded on the UK’s Common Cold Unit challenge model, puts volunteer humans at the heart of disease modelling for product validation and biological insight.

Closing remarks

Wrapping up the event, BIA’s Steve Bates led a panel discussing the UK healthcare investment landscape with Dan Mahony of Polar Capital (who was also interviewed by CNBC), Charles Weston of Numis, Debbie Harland from SR One and Harmesh Suniara from Henderson Volantis.

In closing, Michael Meade from Numis noted that the US biotech index was up 7% in the last month alone. Earlier in the day, George Freeman MP alluded to the great sums of money invested around the JP Morgan healthcare investor conference in San Francisco, and said he was pleased to see the scene is growing in the UK, where we have ‘Angels investing, VCs surviving and an extraordinary capital market in London’.

In a similar vein, investor Andy Richards suggested that the sense of excitement at JP Morgan was tangible again at this event, and he highlighted the desire in the sector for the public markets to engage so that we can see life science companies growing to mid cap size here in the UK.

For statistics and trends from the UK biotech industry and public markets take a look at our short publication. On Monday The Times picked up the story, highlighting the recent uptick of investor interest in the sector.


Andrew Clark’s article in The Times on 2 February

For more insights from the day take a look at MedCity’s Storify roundup or the #healthinvest tag on Twitter.