All Street Cap – April 201710th April 2017
Small is beautiful
In the pharmaceutical industry, there is a constant demand for the larger companies to innovate and produce new products. But unfortunately, innovation in the large Pharma’s has declined rapidly in the last 10 to 20 years in the UK. Two decades ago, 80% of innovation was done in-house to 20% bought from outside, and that has now swapped around.
In the smaller biotech space there has been an explosion of smaller companies, with great ideas and great IP. More and more innovation comes from those smaller companies. We have an ideal profile in our lead product Lupuzor™, which is innovative and is a potential breakthrough compound for Lupus, the life threatening auto-immune disease.
Ready to go
We are unusual in that we have a drug in the middle of a pivotal Phase III trial – the last stage before regulatory approval – and we own 100% of the asset. That’s why our profile is high right now, and that’s where our focus is. We will also continue to develop the other early stage products we have in 2017, as it creates an opportunity, and nobody wants to invest in a one drug company. But it is natural that Lupuzor™ will drive ImmuPharma’s value over the next period. It will also be pivotal for the industry, because studies do move sentiment and affect investor attitudes not just to the company but to the wider market.
Backing the sector
Will next year be a challenge? I wouldn’t call it a challenge I would call it an opportunity. In our backing we have one or two larger
institutional investors, a big retail element, and also specialist investors who understand the market. An example of this is Alto Invest, a fund that specialises in healthcare and which is now a 4.5% shareholder in ImmuPharma. I do think we have a certain amount of responsibility to do our best to deliver the results that we can. Hopefully if they are positive, it will help attract more investment into the sector in the UK.
Backing the sector
We’re in an interesting position for Brexit as most of our operations are in France, but we are UK listed and our corporate headquarters are here in the UK. We sit on both sides of the fence.
We don’t expect to see any real difference in how we operate as a company, but the key issue is being able to attract talented individuals moving in either direction. The industry and science has always thrived on
being able to get the right talent in the right places. Many young start-up companies will attract talent from across Europe and we certainly don’t want to see that being restricted. We also don’t want to see cross-border investment being constrained. But I have lot of faith this won’t happen as there is also a lot of common sense and the industry is too important both for the UK and Europe in general for false barriers to be put up. That’s my belief and hope.
I started as an accountant in the oil industry. I took a break for a year to do an MBA at Cranfield and a head-hunter approached me to join a biotech company as CFO. I’m quite entrepreneurial, and for my first 10 years I was spinning tech out of research institutions and universities, providing a corporate structure around them and building management teams. It was an exciting time with lots of companies in Med-Tech and diagnostics getting listed on AIM. I joined ImmuPharma in late 2015 following the unfortunate death of the previous Chairman Richard Warr who was a very good friend of mine. I very much believe in the ImmuPharma, Lupuzor™ and the Company’s long term potential.