Thierry Laugel co-founded Kurma Partners in 2009. He has more than 25 years of experience in Life Sciences, both in Venture and in Industry, and is a PharmD, PhD and MBA.
Founded in July 2009, Kurma Partners is a key European player in the financing of Innovation in Healthcare and Biotechnology, from pre-seed to growth capital, Kurma Partners operates over the whole value chain.
Thierry started his career in 1992 as R&D Project Manager for Laboratoires Fournier in Tokyo.
In 1996, he joined Flamel Technologies, just after its successful listing on Nasdaq, and managed the development-stage portfolio of the company.
In 1998, he moved to investments, first at Caisse des Dépots (CDC), then at AGF Private Equity (Allianz Group) in 2005, where he supervised the healthcare investment team.
Thierry has led investments in more than 25 companies like Actelion, Arpida, Targacept, Adocia, or Erytech.
He is currently a Board Member of Alize Pharma 3, Ermium, Horama, Minoryx, Blink Biomedical, Talix, Meiogenix and Pathoquest.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Thierry says:
As always, the most important asset in a startup, including a fund, is the team. It is critical to partner with people with complementary skills, and with whom you share many important values. Regarding fundraising itself, it is critical to offer to investors the product they are ready to buy.
All LPs would like us to generate quick returns, that is difficult to deliver when you invest in early-stage biotech companies. So we need to provide a lot of explanations to our LPs to make sure they realize the signs of progress made by the companies even if it may take more time than what they expect. A biotech venture may deliver very good returns, but it can’t be quick.
Read on to know more about Thierry Laugel and his journey.
Thierry Laugel: I have been trained in pharmacy and pharmacology (PharmD and PhD)and have an MBA from INSEAD.
I have worked in R&D in Pharma and Biotech before starting as an investor more than 20 years ago, having directly invested in approx 30 companies, mostly European companies developing novel therapeutics.
Thierry Laugel: I started working in Venture in large groups (one bank then one insurance company). I became very obvious that for Venture investment, you need long-term focus, independence and versatility. Then I started in 2005 for the first time to raise an independent fund but failed. I started Kurma Partners in 2008 / 2009, and that time, it was a success!
Thierry Laugel: We focus our investment on innovative healthcare technologies, mostly in Europe. We invest in novel therapies and novel tools for patient diagnosis and monitoring (digital diagnostics).
Thierry Laugel: We are mostly early-stage investors, and build 40% of our portfolios on a project that we build ourselves, proactively sourcing early-stage opportunities in universities, and forming companies ourselves. The rest (60%) are traditional early venture investment in Biotech, focused on syndicating financing rounds to reach clinical proof of concept for novel therapeutics, or early commercial validation for new diagnostic tools.
Thierry Laugel: We can invest very small amounts in a newly formed startup or before company formation (ex: 10,000 euros). Our upper limit is 15 million euros. We invest mostly in Europe but look actively for new assets and technologies worldwide.
Thierry Laugel: It may be diverse in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but it will be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
Usual KPIs in our files are IP, quality of underlying science, well-performed development process, and differentiation versus competition.
Thierry Laugel: We are relatively lucky to work in an industry that suffered relatively little compared with many others. The most critical element has been short term cash management, but more critically to make sure development operations are performed correctly (which have been very challenging).
Thierry Laugel: All LPs would like us to generate quick returns, that is difficult to deliver when you invest in early-stage biotech companies. So we need to provide a lot of explanations to our LPs to make sure they realize the signs of progress made by the companies even if it may take more time than what they expect. A biotech venture may deliver very good returns, but it can’t be quick.
Thierry Laugel: As always, the most important asset in a startup, including a fund, is the team. It is critical to partner with people with complementary skills, and with whom you share many important values. Regarding fundraising itself, it is critical to offer to investors the product they are ready to buy.
Thierry Laugel: They underestimate the challenge it represents and therefore, the effort that needs to be implemented.
And you need to talk to the right persons; develop your networks.
Thierry Laugel: What makes your project unique? How will you create value? Show me the team.
Thierry Laugel: « Global » is required in Biotech. Nobody can be a local champion because a drug must be global.
Thierry Laugel: Lots of new technologies are emerging in biotherapies and will bring a lot of new drug modalities: gene therapies, oligonucleotides, antibody-drug conjugates and many more to come.
My first book of pharmacology; started a passion for life.
Various books on neurosciences: makes human reality more understandable.
Zen Buddhism, which are the various books from Zen masters.
Thierry Laugel: Create, create, create
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