2023 is a special year for our company: Biotechgate is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Since the launch of its first database in Switzerland in 2003, Biotechgate has continuously evolved into the largest business development and licensing database unique to the life sciences sector. Today, subscribers can explore over 66,000 companies, 760,000 clinical trials, and 27,000 licensing agreements. Moreover, Biotechgate partners with more than 30 industry associations or business development agencies to run their regional directories and country portals.
In an interview, the founders of Biotechgate by Venture Valuation, CEO Patrik Frei (left) and COO Jost Renggli (right), talk about the idea that inspired Biotechgate and share insights into their future plans.
Take a look at our timeline representing the story of 20 years of Biotechgate and its many milestones – from the first Swiss database in 2003, to hitting the 20,000 profile mark in the database in 2011, to the first Biotechgate Digital Partnering conference in 2020.
Q&A with Biotechgate’s Founders
Q: Patrik and Jost, you have created and developed Biotechgate as part of the company Venture Valuation. What was it that inspired you to start a business development and licensing database in the life science sphere?
Jost: It was around 2002 when the idea for a life science database came up. At that time, we did a lot of Biotech and Pharma related valuations for the Novartis Venture Fund. We realized that a database to explore emerging life science companies would be very helpful for these projects. Even though directories existed in the life science field, we missed a database that covers newly founded start-up companies. So, the idea came up to build such a database by ourselves.
Q: Looking back at the last twenty years in which Biotechgate has grown steadily, what have been some of the highlights for you?
Jost: The biggest highlights were the over 30 partnerships we could close with industry associations and economic development agencies from all over the world. But the launch of new Biotechgate app releases were always exciting as well, e.g. the big release in 2019 where we introduced a new section for clinical trials and diagnostics.
Patrik: For me, a recent highlight was the launch of our own Biotechgate Digital Partnering event during 2020, to support our industry partners, their members, as well as the whole Biotech and Pharma community to continue with business development and partnering. And how we have managed to turn it into an integral part of the global business development calendar.
Q: What makes Biotechgate so unique in the life sciences industry?
Jost: First of all, it is the data sourcing process. We benefit from great partnerships around the world that help us keep the database up-to-date and add new companies. Furthermore, we are able to leverage our own Partnering software HelloPartnering to exchange company profile information between Biotechgate and supported HelloPartnering conferences. In addition, we use state-of-the-art web crawling tools incl. AI functionality to screen the internet for news. And this brings us to the 2nd point, the data set itself. Thanks to our unique data curation process we are able to track even small, emerging companies and to identify start-ups and their technology in a very early phase.
Q: Patrik, as CEO of the company, what are the main challenges you are facing in day-to-day business and how do you tackle them?
Patrik: Even though we are a relatively small enterprise with just over 40 people, we are truly a global company, having people in North America, Europe and Asia. A key challenge has always been to enable employees, partners and clients to work together around the globe. We have introduced internal and external tools to allow our stakeholders to interact with each other. As we had set-up as a virtual company with few local anchor offices, we have been able to manage the lockdown periods very well.
Another challenge is that, as a relatively small company, we have to focus on our real core competencies and react in an agile way to an ever-changing world. We benefit from having our Biotechgate product development in-house, which allows us to implement new features and requests from customers in record time.
Q: Jost, as COO, you are also focusing on the technical side of things and are constantly working on improving the usability and accessibility of the database. Can you tell me about some enhanced features we can expect with the new release this year?
Jost: Besides ensuring a comprehensive and accurate data set, the biggest challenges for us are the usability and performance of the app. And this is what we focus on for the new release. We have always aimed for intuitive design and usability, but during 2022, we developed a streamlined and intuitive design for the application together with a specialized web agency. We are now in process of implementing this as a new software version. In addition, there will be some new search features and extended data sets we have implemented, such as a better search and visualization of investor portfolios or the introduction of the corporate structure for big corporations or a better mapping and linking of product pipelines with their clinical trials.
Q: Finally, where do you see opportunities to grow? What are your plans for the future?
Jost: We must continue to make efforts to identify innovative companies and technologies at an early stage and quickly enter the corresponding news into the system. We also want to strengthen our network through further partnerships in all parts of the world – various negotiations on this are already underway. And certainly, we want to further expand the partnering and networking opportunities and strengthen our Biotechgate Digital Partnering community.
Patrik: Most importantly, we need to deliver the information that our clients are looking for. We will focus on the most relevant information for our business development clients helping them reaching their goals faster and easier – providing more transparency in the industry of pharma, biotech, medtech, digital health and healthcare in general.
Ph.D., lic. oec. HSG
Dr. Patrik Frei is founder and CEO of Venture Valuation AG, Switzerland. He started the company in 1999 when he noticed a need for independent valuation services in high growth industries during a collaboration with Novartis Venture Fund, which became his first client. Since then he has been involved in over 450 valuations for investors as well as biotech, pharma and medtech companies. Patrik graduated from the Business University of St. Gallen and completed his Ph.D thesis (”Assessment and valuation of high growth companies”) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Lausanne. Patrik was a board member and one of the original founders of Ineo and the Chairman of Ophthalmopharma, where he successfully out-licensed a portfolio of 4 ophthalmology products. Furthermore, Patrik was member of the board of Aventron AG (AVEN:Berne), a publicly quoted cleantech company, which raised over USD 160m during his time as board member. Patrik’s articles have been published in a number of scientific journals including “Nature Biotechnology”, “Chimia” and other business publications. He has also lectured at Seoul National University, South Korea, EPFL Lausanne, University of St. Gallen and gives regular workshops on valuation.
COO & Partner
lic. rer. pol. (M.A.), MAS Business IT
Digital driven COO of Venture Valuation and responsible for the operations of Biotechgate and HelloPartnering. Passion for new technologies, start-ups and digital projects. Bridge between IT and business with more than 20 years of experience and two master degrees from Swiss universities. In addition to his job, he loves reading, sports, DJ-ing and most of all spending time with his wife and two wonderful kids – preferably in the Swiss mountains.