Dear Europe (V.2)

7 Mar

By Dennis Ford, Founder & CEO, Life Science Nation; Creator of RESI Conference Series

There is an opportunity to take advantage of in the global partnering domain but you have to leave your region in order to participate.

The LSN team just visited 8 countries and met with over 250 companies across Europe and Israel. The goal of the trip was to help the regional technology hubs and their constituents understand what it takes to go from a regional mindset to a global mindset in finding investors and channel partners. We saw first-hand the challenges that European life science entrepreneurs are facing. The big two: time and cost to go outside the region.

The biggest obstacles I found for fundraising European companies was a tendency to have a more conservative nature, and not being totally convinced that if you want to play in the global funding ecosystem you have to play by a new set of rules. These new rules may be different both culturally and in the business dynamic. The global marketplace abounds with compelling technology assets and understanding the competitive landscape and where you fit is crucial.

We told audiences at the LSN Fundraising Boot Camp workshops that you either have to go for it, or not. And if you do, you need to figure out how to get out of your region and start a continuous dialogue with the global players who are looking to fund and partner with you. RESI is bringing over 200 investors to Europe, March 25 in Vienna for the first time – the fundraising CEOs I met with said they would love to attend but the time and cost associated was prohibitive. Fundraising is an expensive endeavor: as strange as it sounds, you need to spend money to get money. In addition, it’s important to remember that investors invest in teams as well as technologies, and they expect their startup CEOs to do what they have to do to succeed.

Having run 22 global conferences since 2016, I’ve observed that global startups and their assets are in a critical timing situation. They either catch the wave or miss the wave of opportunity that is happening right now. Once the wave passes, it is gone. It is not waiting for fundraising CEOs to rationalize spending some time and money to meet with prospective investors. Fundraising is a numbers game – for example, you could do a deep dive in your region and find 50-100 investor targets to call on and start a dialogue with, or alternatively you could go global and find 400-500 investors that are a fit for your stage of development and product. Going global is clearly more likely to yield results.

If you are trying to raise capital today, in 2019, it takes 9-18 months and is extremely competitive in this golden age of life science product development. If you do not go for it and put everything on the line, then you will miss the wave and it will only make the challenges you will face harder. As a scientist-entrepreneur, it takes one investor meeting to change your life, but getting to that one meeting takes a lot of drive and persistence.

LSN has helped over 300 global startups to raise over 500mm dollars over the years. Our RESI conference is unique in that it is the only dedicated investor conference that is cross-border and cross-silo (drugs, devices, diagnostics and digital health). LSN brings a one-to-one ratio of investors/strategic partners to fundraising CEOs. I have been hearing about the same issues of cost and timing since I started LSN seven years ago…I saw the wave and wanted to catch it.

I would advise global fundraising CEOs to try and get into the global ecosystem and start a dialogue with investors and partners outside your region. If you went to just three of LSN RESI events starting with RESI Vienna in March, RESI Philadelphia in June and RESI Boston in September, you have a truly unprecedented opportunity to meet 30-50 investors in total across 3 events, which would give every CEO a real understanding of where they are at and what they have to do to get funded and find partners.

I feel your pain. I know you care about the ultimate success of your company’s products, which could save lives and impact patient care. However you do need some tough love here. Don’t create a false premise that regional discussions are enough to get you funded. Take the extra step into the global partnering arena and take advantage of a vehicle like the RESI conference series who can help make the process very efficient.

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