Medical Evolution by jennyyingdi


									      May   2 009

Medical Evolution

                                       welcome | content

             The partners of Earlybird (from left to right): Wolfgang Seibold, Hendrik Brandis,
                      Christian Nagel, Roland Manger, Rolf Mathies, Thom Rasche

                       “Welcome to EARLYBIRD Magazine.
               We want to share our insights in technology segments
     relevant to our industry such as Internet-based services, communications,
    cleantech, medtech and others. This second issue is on medical technology.”

               03 _ State of the tech Helping innovators take the road less traveled
          04 _ Work in progress Miracor – Revolutionizing the treatment of heart disease
             08 _ Panorama When it comes to medical convergence, the sky‘s the limit
              10 _ Done deal Amaxa – Changing the face of gene transfer technology
          16 _ Vision Inventor Tom Fogarty on the promise and problems of medical innovation
                    18 _ Up close and personal Partner Thom Rasche

                                                                                                 STATE OF THE TECH | editorial

                                                                                        Enabling medical innovation

                                                                                        Writing medical history can be frustrating. Take the example
                                                                                        of Erich Muehe, one of the pioneers of minimally invasive surgery. He was
                                                                                        the first surgeon who managed to remove a gall bladder without cutting a
                                                                                        20-centimeter incision into the patient’s abdomen, instead working through
                                                                                        four tiny keyholes, each less than a centimeter long. Today, he’s known as
                                                                                        the father of laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a very important and globally
                                                                      thom rasche
                                                                         Partner        renowned surgical procedure. It not only helps patients recover faster and
                                                                        hamburg         with less pain, it has also prevented many deaths on the operating table. Yet
                                                                                        in 1985, when Muehe first performed his medical miracle, he was greet-
                                                                                        ed by a storm of protest from his colleagues. They accused him of taking
                                                                                        an irresponsibly “risky” approach, his innovation was mocked as “Mickey
                                                                                        Mouse surgery” – for almost a decade.
                                                                                                  He is not the only medical innovator to have suffered such a fate.
                                                                                        Today, Ignaz Semmelweiss is mentioned in every text book on bacteriology.
                                                                                        But in the mid-19th century, he was laughed at when he suggested that
                                                                                        childbed fever could be drastically reduced if doctors sterilized their hands.
                                                                                        And when Heinz-Joachim Sykosch implanted the first cardiac pacemaker
                                                                                        in Germany in 1961, he did so despite an explicit ban from his superior.
                                                                                                These examples show that medical innovators need a lot of courage.
                                                                                        I understand that doctors tend to greet new ideas with reservation. They
                                                                                        have to – after all, they’re dealing with people’s lives. If they always experi-
                                                                                        mented, they would run into huge trouble, both morally and legally. In such
                                                                                        a conservative environment, medical experts who think outside the box
                                                                                        need external support if they’re to walk an unexplored path. That’s where
                                                                                        Earlybird sees its role.
                                                                                                  My colleagues and I want to provide outstanding medical inven-
                                                                                        tors with sufficient funding and guidance to realize their vision. We don’t do
                                                                    “We always ask      that just for philanthropic reasons – after all, we want to continue to deliver
                                                                                        impressive returns to our investors. Nevertheless, our investment decisions
                                                                    ourselves if the
                                                                                        in the medical field are driven by questions that are indeed philanthropic in
                                                                        proposed        nature. I always ask myself if the proposed technology will help save lives
                                                                    technology will     or improve a patient’s quality of life. If the answer is no – if the proposal
                                                                     help save lives    only helps hospitals save money – I’m not interested. We still have no short-
                                                                      or improve a      age of investment opportunities. Small wonder, as we’re on the brink of a
                                                                                        medical revolution where the focus is on regeneration and self-healing.
                                                                    patient’s quality
                                                                                                Helping the heart to heal itself is the focus of a groundbreaking new
Photos: Earlybird; Cover Illustrations: David Bray / Private View

                                                                         of life”       therapy being developed by Miracor (pp. 4-7). You can read about other com-
                                                                                        panies doing exciting new things as a result of medical convergence in our
                                                                                        Panorama secion (pp. 8-9). They show that crossover cooperation doesn’t stop
                                                                                        with pharma, biotech and medical devices, but can reach as far afield as the
                                                                                        automotive industry. New therapies must first undergo extensive lab research
                                                                                        before they can benefit humans, and Amaxa is a company that‘s revolution-
                                                                                        ized the way research is done in gene therapy. Virtually all the top names in
                                                                                        medical research are now its customers (pp. 10-15). We also spoke with de-
                                                                                        vice inventor Tom Fogarty, who is proof that though innovators face resist-
                                                                                        ance, it’s possible to be a serial entrepreneur in this field. I’m pleased that he
                                                                                        was willing to share his thoughts on the future of medicine with us.

                                                    WORK IN PROGRESS

                    Mending broken hearts
         Driven by a dream that started 30 years ago, Miracor is on the verge of
         revolutionizing the treatment of patients suffering from heart disease

                                                     BY SIMoN STorEY

on a sunny day in 1997, Viennese heart surgeon Werner             Mohl says. Fascinated, because they confirmed he was right
Mohl was relaxing on his porch and skimming a medical jour-       about a therapy he’d developed years ago; encouraged, be-
nal when suddenly, his entrepreneurial aspirations were re-       cause he’d already worked on a device to make such a proce-
kindled. He’d been reading an article in “The Lancet” which       dure possible. “I told myself that I should continue this work,”
explained the curative effects of cleaning the cardiovascular     remembers Mohl. It would mean revisiting a vision he’d given
system in a human being. By flushing out clogged blood ves-       up on a decade ago – a vision that, if realized, would be noth-
sels, malfunctioning cells would be reminded of what they         ing short of revolutionary.
were meant to be doing, thus prompting them to rejuvenate.                Imagine being diagnosed with chronic heart disease or
“I was fascinated and encouraged by these research results,”      living with the effects of a severe heart attack. You’d have to re-

                                                                miracor founders Dr. Werner
                                                                mohl (left) and Jon hoem are
                                                                close to finalizing the prototypes
                                                                on mohl’s PIcso device. It not
                                                                only promises vast human
                                                                benefits, but also taps into a
                                                                multi-billion-euro market

                                                         CASE STUDY | miracor

                                                                                                             an illustration of the human
                                                                                                             heart showing the coronary
                                                                                                             sinus (circled), a large vein
                                                                                                             on the heart’s back surface.
                                                                                                             Part of the coronary circu-
                                                                                                             lation system which sup-
                                                                                                             plies the heart with blood,
                                                                                                             the sinus receives blood
                             Right Atrium                                                     Left Atrium    from the heart muscle and
                                                                                                             returns it to the right atri-
                                                                                                             um. miracor’s PIcso cath-
                                                                                                             eter is inserted here via the
                             Right Ventricle                                                     Ventricle

                               Large Vein
                               (from lower body)

                                               (to lower body)

shape your entire lifestyle: what you eat, how you work, how          it’s Hoem who runs the company. But it’s Mohl who has had
much you exercise. Now imagine checking into your local hos-          the vision driving it – for 30 years.
pital to undergo a new treatment to “flush out” the malfunction-
ing cells in your heart, thereby getting a second lease on life.      Doubt at the outset
         In the western world alone, there are more than 8 mil-               As a young surgeon at Vienna’s university hospital
lion people suffering from permanent heart damage after a             AKH, Werner Mohl attended a lecture by a Polish surgeon who
heart attack, and the figure is rising fast. According to mar-        explained his idea of forcing arterial blood into the heart to
ket research, some 1.8 million people per year join the list, and     help regenerate the muscle. That was back in 1979, and Mohl
that’s not even counting the millions of people with chronic          thought the idea was bogus. In his opinion, the pressure of the
heart diseases. The approximately 2,000 heart clinics in the in-      blood being pumped out of the heart was so gigantic that there
dustrialized world have been waiting for years to find an ap-         was no way one could overcome it with a device or procedure.
propriate therapy for all these patients. A device that could         “To me it was as if someone suggested putting a hosepipe with
mend all these broken hearts would not only bring enormous            flowing water into the Danube in Vienna, and then seeing the
human benefits but also tap into a multi-billion-euro market.         flow of this hosepipe come out in Linz, some 200 kilometers
         Today, 12 years after his “eureka moment” on the             west,” says Mohl. “Everybody knows that this is impossible.”
porch, Werner Mohl is very close to seeing a flushing device                  However, he could see a medical benefit in flushing
for the cardiovascular system finally come on the market.             out malfunctioning blood vessels. Ambitious and aspiring as
Things are on track for the delivery of three certified proto-        he was, he didn’t drop it as a “mission impossible,” but rath-
types in the second half of this year. They will be the first de-     er thought about ways to circumvent the issue. After many
vices to be made by Miracor, the company he founded last              hours of thinking and sketching, the surgeon concluded that
year together with an experienced veteran in the medical de-          there might be a chance if you were to approach the heart not
vice industry, the Norwegian Jon Hoem. As Miracor’s CEo,              where the blood is pumped out with enormous force, but rath-

                  Werner Mohl                                    Watch: seiko
                  Born: Feb. 24, 1950                            car: VW Golf 5
                  nationality: austrian                          FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – alivE:
                  Family StatuS: married, three children,        John abele
                  one grandchild                                 FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – all timE:
                  Education: medicine (University of             Jakob Fugger
                  Vienna) anthropology, Psychology and
                  Genetics (University of Vienna)

                                                          WORK IN PROGRESS

er at its “back door,” where the pressure on the blood flow is nership. It took years to work out the details of Mohl’s idea,
much lower.                                                               but in 1985, they finally had a prototype. It is now a curio vy-
         He visualized a pump with a tiny plastic tube attached. ing for space in Miracor’s cramped, temporary one-room of-
The tube, topped by a little inflatable balloon, would be insert- fice in Vienna. The rectangular blue box with its silver console
ed in the coronary sinus muscle. once in position, the pump and thick cables looks like a prop in a 70’s sci-fi show. There’s
would be used to expand the balloon at controlled intervals, so no telling what the marketable version might have looked like,
that it acts like a dam and suppresses                                                               as work on the machine came to
the flow of blood to the heart. This                                                                 an abrupt end with the devastating
would cause a build-up of pressure                                                                   stock market crash of 1987. Mohl
in the heart muscle, which upon re-                                                                  bought back the patents and designs
lease would be like a dam bursting.                                                                  for the machine, but he was disillu-
The blood would run through un-                                                                      sioned.
der higher pressure, flushing out
the coronary veins. Mohl was con-                                                                    Old friends, new partners
vinced that this would have a cura-                                                                           Ten years passed before that
tive effect on the damaged tissue, re-                                                               moment on the porch. Enthused by
sulting in a partial regeneration of                                                                 the new research, Mohl was keen to
the heart muscle. He called his idea                                                                 make up for lost time and decided
PICSo (Pressure-controlled Inter-                                                                    to strike out on his own. He applied
mittent Coronary Sinus occlusion).                                                                   for a number of grants at research
         But testing his idea was a                                                                  facilities in Austria, added some
huge task. After all, he was dealing         Following a heart attack, a section of the heart        €250,000 of his own money, and
with the human heart, not exactly a          muscle is damaged (white area) from lack of             commissioned some nearby com-
                                             oxygen. With PIcso, a balloon-topped catheter
part of the body to play around with.                                                                panies to build a new device. Af-
                                             (yellow) is inserted in the coronary sinus (top).
Consequently, Mohl’s generally af-           When the balloon is inflated, it blocks the heart’s
                                                                                                     ter several years, the second PICSo
fable business partner, Hoem, is not         venous outflow, resulting in an increase in pres-       prototype was completed. The device
amused when the device is dubbed a           sure (bottom). When the balloon is deflated, it         worked and Mohl had even conduct-
pump. “Don’t call it a pump – nev-           results in improved cardiac blood flow, which           ed some preliminary clinical tests
er ever call it a pump,” he insists. He      has a regenerative effect on the damaged area           with it. Unfortunately, he had focused
explains that the technology behind                                                                  too much on the medical side and
the PICSo device is so complex that, in engineering terms, it had neglected a host of bureaucratic and regulatory require-
is a high-tech inflater, with sophisticated technology required ments. rather than fiddle about with the existing prototype,
to insert the catheter into the heart via the groin, and precisely Mohl decided to start from scratch on a new one. It was clear,
inflate the balloon.                                                      though, that he needed a business partner, someone of the cal-
                                                                          iber of John Abele.
Teaming up with a pioneer                                                          In December 2007, Mohl attended a cardiac surgery
         At the outset, Mohl realized that he wouldn’t be able conference in Leipzig where he met an old friend, Jon Hoem.
to create such a device. He needed a partner. At his hospital in “We both like sushi, so we decided to have dinner together,”
Vienna, he asked a medical device distributor for advice and Hoem recalls. Mohl gave him an update on his PICSo device,
was told to contact John Abele. Today, Abele is known as the hoping to lure his Norwegian friend into a partnership. The
founder of Boston Scientific, one of the biggest medical device two first met in 1991 and Mohl knew Hoem had what it takes
makers in the world. But in 1980, Abele was in the early stages to turn his idea into a marketable device. Trained as an engi-
of building his multi-billion empire and had not yet acquired neer, Hoem had worked in sales and distribution at Medtronic,
his iconic status. Nevertheless, upon meeting Abele in Bos- a world leader in medical devices. Additionally, he had a lot of
ton, Mohl was immediately inspired by him. He still vividly experience with innovations in cardiac surgery, having worked
remembers how Abele and his wife picked him up from Logan with companies such as Vingmed, MediStim and AtriCure.
Airport in a rusty truck and gave him a tour of his office, then                   Hoem was fascinated by PICSo’s potential. But in or-
located in a basement. over dinner at their home, Abele re- der to get things right this time, they’d need professional fund-
acted enthusiastically to Mohl’s vision, and they set up a part- ing. It didn’t take long to find investors. Mohl and Hoem raised

                  Jon hoeM                                     FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – alivE:
                  Born: aug. 6, 1963                           Dan Pelak
                  nationality: Norwegian                       FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – all timE:
                  Family StatuS: married                       steve Jobs
                  Education: master of engineering
                  (Norwegian Institute of technology)
                  Watch: Jaeger Lecoultre reverso
                  car: mercedes Ge500

                                                                                                        CASE STUDY | miracor

                                                  €6.2 million from Earlybird and Ireland-based Delta Part-
                                                  ners, and secured a grant from the Austrian research Promo-
                                                  tion Agency (FFG). With the financial foundation laid, Hoem                         Bird’s-Eye View
                                                  quit his job to devote all his energy to the project. At the end of
                                                  2008, he and Mohl founded Miracor.                                                  What attracted you to Miracor?
                                                                                                                                      thom rasche: We got the business
                                                  A fledgling company with huge potential                                             plan in the mail, and it was awful!
                                                           Sitting together on a couch in Vienna, Mohl and Hoem         thom rasche   And when Professor Mohl said he
                                                  complement each other perfectly. They talk easily, share jokes,          Partner    didn’t want to give up his work as a
                                                  and are so attuned to the other’s way of thinking, they’re often        hamburg     surgeon, I sent him away and told him
                                                  able to finish each other’s sentences. This could in part be due                    to come back when he had a business
                                                  to the fact that, from the very beginning, their roles were sepa-                   partner. A couple of months on, he
                                                  rate and distinct: Mohl, the inventor and developer, and Hoem,                      said he’d found one, and it was Jon
                                                  the entrepreneur and salesman.                                                      Hoem. In the meantime, we’d talked
                                                           What has Miracor been doing in the months since its                        to physicians who said that Mohl’s
                                                  emergence? “We’re still a development technology company,”                          idea could revolutionize the treatment
                                                  says Hoem. They decided that Miracor would not build the de-                        of heart attacks, and that convinced us
                                                  vice itself, so they outsourced the task. They sent their speci-                    to get on board.
                                                  fications to a dozen trusted manufacturers. “By the way they                        How long do you think regulatory ap-
                                                  responded, we could tell which was able to comply with the                          proval in the US will take?
                                                  task,” Hoem says. In the end, they signed contracts with a Ger-                     rasche: That’s hard to predict. right
                                                  man and an Irish company to deliver the required console and                        now, the company is focusing on get-
                                                  catheters. In order to get the regulatory green light, Miracor                      ting the device done and into other
                                                  applied for the highly-regarded TÜV technical certificate.                          clinical sites in Europe to amass more
                                                           After filing hundreds of pages of documentation, an-                       clinical evidence. That’s their target,
                                                  swering numerous questions and attending personal meetings,                         and it’s easier to do this in Europe
                                                  they were successful. The company is now close to finalizing                        than it is in the United States.
                                                  the “express” prototypes, which will be used in further clini-                      What does working on such a project
                                                  cal trials. The device is also awaiting CE (European Standard                       mean for you personally?
                                                  Market) approval, which Hoem hopes to have by the end of                            rasche: I find it really rewarding
                                                  2009. “We will do clinical trials in the main markets of Ger-                       that, as someone from industry, I can
                                                  many, the UK, and the Netherlands,” he says, filling the room                       help get revolutionary new technolo-
                                                  with excited energy as he talks about the company’s future. Af-                     gy and treatments to patients by tak-
                                                  ter extensive testing on animals, earlier clinical trials on over                   ing something that was once a purely
                                                  100 human patients have already confirmed PICSo’s poten-                            academic project and making a com-
                                                  tial: according to a five-year follow-up study, the treatment re-                   mercially viable medical product out
                                                  duces the risk of a further heart attack by up to 96 percent.                       of it.
                                                           once Miracor has its first set of marketable devices,                      How would you describe Professor
                                                  it plans to place them in renowned heart clinics and generate                       Mohl?
                                                  more clinical data. Their business plan foresees catheter sales                     rasche: He always has his patients’
                                                  climbing from 250 units in 2010 to 18,000 in 2013. Mohl is              “Mohl’s     best interests at heart. He’s also per-
                                                  confident that a single treatment will be sufficient to rejuve-       idea could    sistent, which I really like. He might
                                                  nate the malfunctioning tissue after a heart attack. It‘s still                     get knocked down now and then, but
                                                  unclear if PICSo will be covered by health insurers, and to                         every time, he gets back up, dusts
                                                  what extent patients will initially have to cover the cost. It‘s
                                                                                                                         onize the    himself off, and says, okay, let’s go
                                                  an issue that Hoem has decided not to worry about. “once               treatment    on. He wants to make this happen,
                                                  you have a therapy that is medically so compelling,” he ex-             of heart    which is great because he really has
                                                  plains, “the issue of who pays for what will resolve itself very        attacks.”   an asset on his hands.
Photos: Gregorius Grey, Miracor, medicalpicture



A problem shared is                                                                                               Automotive
a problem halved

Convergent medical technology is changing the face of health care. When it
comes to partnerships between drug and biotech firms, device makers and
even non-medical industries, it seems the sky’s the limit
it’s a trend shaKing uP the often slow-moving med-
ical field, opening up new product ideas, business models and
                                                                      Crucially, drug-eluting stents required inno-
                                                                      vations in stent surface design and coating
partnerships. Convergent medical technology is a broad term           technology – and that was where Hemoteq
used to describe a combination of technologies from two or            came in. “The revolutionary innova-
more sectors, blended in innovative ways to improve health            tion of drug-eluting stents,
care. Convergence happens when pharmaceuticals meet med-              which came on the market
ical devices, or when medical devices incorporate technolo-           in 2002, meant that eve-
gy originally developed for a non-medical application in the          ry stent manufacturer was
automotive or IT sector, for example. “The boundaries of dif-         forced to develop its own
ferent scientific disciplines have blurred in recent years,” says     drug coating or vanish from the market,” explains co-founder
Mir Imran, one of the United States’ leading inventors of med-        roland Horres. “Since small and mid-size stent manufacturers
ical devices. He runs Incube, a Silicon Valley-based incuba-          only had in-house engineering expertise, they had to develop
tor for medical and Internet companies. “Medical device en-           their own drug-eluting stents in collaboration with a company
gineers need to have expertise in multiple areas to be able to        which had pharmaceutical and chemical competence, and this
address the challenges we face.”                                      was available at Hemoteq.”
         Germany’s Hemoteq is one company already blaz-                        Horres says his company couldn’t exist without inter-
ing a trail in the field of medical convergence. It produc-           disciplinary work, and predicts that other companies will soon
es ultra-thin coatings applicable to virtually any kind of sur-       reach similar conclusions. “It will be more and more difficult
face material, including medical devices. Hemoteq was able            to create innovations in the future which only make use of one
to establish itself not least thanks to the market entry in re-       single technology field,” he says. “The whole medical device
cent years of drug-eluting stents – a prototypical conver-            market as well as large growing parts of the pharmaceutical
gent medical technology which combines a drug with a me-              markets will soon be served by products which combine dif-
chanical device. A stent is a tube used to support, widen and         ferent technologies.”
hold open a natural conduit such as an artery. A drug-eluting                  Khalid Ishaque, based in Natick, MA, is the director
stent can be used during coronary interventions, for exam-            of New Markets & Business Development at Boston Scien-
ple, to release an anti-inflammatory drug that would slow the         tific International, which specializes in the kind of minimal-
growth of scar tissue that could later block the stented artery.      ly invasive medical technologies that have enabled drug-elut-

Medical evolution – yesterday, today, tomorrow
Medicine was
a late bloomer
among the arts and
sciences, as its
development was
long hampered by
religious beliefs.
                           the Greek hippocra-         ignaz semmelweis              at the start of the 20th     the mass production
The Industrial re-         tes is regarded as the      observed that childbed        century, the German          of drugs started in the
volution also had          father of medicine as his   fever could be prevented      Ferdinand sauerbruch         late 19th century in Ger-
a late impact, but         school turned it into a     if doctors sterilized their   and the american samuel      many and switzerland.
then rapidly trans-        distinct profession. Be-    hands, but it was louis       meltzer overcame taboos      In 1899, Bayer patented
                           fore him, medicine was      pasteur who provided          about opening the chest,     an anti-inflammatory
formed the practice        often regarded as part      a theory to understand        and provided the basis for   pressed into pills. It was
of medicine.               of philosophy or sorcery    bacterial infection           cardiothoracic surgery       called aspirin

                                                  OVERVIEW | PartnershiPs, regulation, history

Pharma                     ed stents, for example. He agrees that current so convinced that the benefits of convergence outweigh any
                             advances in medical convergence are prom- hurdles companies may encounter along the way. originally
                                 ising, but points out that the innovative based in Hanover but now headquartered in Pittsburgh, Me-
                                 nature of convergent medical technolo- sotec is an example of a company that found medical appli-
                                 gy also has its downside. “There are in- cations for non-medical technology. It has developed an im-
                                 creasing development costs involved plantable pressure sensor to measure intraocular pressure in
                                 due to increasing regulatory hurdles,” glaucoma patients. ostermeier says such sensors could also
                                 he says. “And often, there’s a problem- be used to monitor intracranial pressure in hydrocephalus pa-
           medical               atic lack of precedence from a regulatory tients or to detect variations in cardiovascular blood pressure
                                 perspective, as well as parallel regulato- in hypertensive patients. The inspiration behind Mesotec’s so-
           happens when
           two or more
                                 ry paths for drugs, devices, biologics and phisticated product? Sensors that were developed for the auto-
           sectors link          information technology, for example.”              motive industry to monitor tire pressure and acceleration.
           arms to create                “The regulatory hurdles are high-                  “Merging existing technologies from other areas into
           innovative new        er, and so are the regulatory risks,” con- medical products opens up new avenues for innovative medi-
           products              firms David Cassak, managing partner of cal products, resulting in better disease management, person-
                                 Connecticut-based Windhover Informa- alized patient treatment, improved outcome and overall cost
                                 tion, which provides analysis on health reductions,” says ostermeier. But there are also practical plus-
                                 care business strategy, marketplace points. “The most significant opportunity afforded by technol-
                                 trends and medical start-ups.                      ogy convergence is lower product development cost and fast-
                                         Still, he’s quick to stress the re- er product availability,” he says. “Product realization risks are
                                 sulting value. “Device companies have lower because you have access to mature technologies that are
                                 realized that convergent devices repre- already broadly used in other applications.”
Biotech                          sent a significant enhancement in value                    Looking at the current landscape, it’s difficult to iden-
                                 in terms of clinical efficacy that relates tify the next big blockbuster product, according to industry ob-
                                 directly to the commercial value of                                  server Cassak. Ultimately, Cassak believes the
                                 the device. It’s no coincidence                                             main lesson for entrepreneurs is to keep
                                 that the first real blockbust-                rEGulatory                        horizons as broad as possible and think
                                                                          iSSuES Because of the
                                er medical devices came                                                            outside the box. “The key may be to
                                                                      ground-breaking nature of medical
                            out of convergence, name-               convergence, regulatory bodies often             think of convergence more expan-
          ly drug-eluting stents and orthobiologics.”          lack precedence, with the result that product          sively,” he says. “To think of it not
                  orthobiologics refers to biologi-              approval can take longer. this can push up            exclusively in terms of drug-de-
          cally-based products for hard and soft tis-         development costs for the companies involved.             vice convergence, but to incor-
          sue regeneration for the orthopedics mar-           additionally, a convergent product may have to            porate bioinformatics, or con-
                                                             pursue parallel regulatory paths according to its
          ket. Leading the field in orthobiologics is                                                                   vergence with other advanced
                                                              components (drugs, biologics, It, device, etc.).
          the US-based device company, Medtron-                   this can affect the phases in its life cycle,        technologies, such as computeri-
          ic, which has made inroads, for example, in            from preclinical testing and clinical trials to      zation in the growing field of bio-
          bone repair treatments.                                   manufacturing and quality control, to            sensors.” right now, it seems, any-
                  Max ostermeier, managing director                     promotion and advertising and              thing’s possible.
          of the medical technology firm Mesotec, is al-                   postapproval modifica-
                                                                                     tions.                                           BY JANE PAULICK

          Wilhelm röntgen took         surgical stapling was         the fi rst pacemaker          tiny metal tubes called       through genetic engi-
          the first x-ray picture of   developed in russia           was implanted in 1958         stents are a multi-billion-   neering, human bodies
          his wife’s hand in 1895.     at the start of the 20th      in sweden; it worked          dollar business, widely       may one day be able to
          radiology is now one         century. a faster alterna-    for a few hours. the first    used to open blocked          tolerate the transplant of
          of the biggest diagnostic    tive to suturing by hand,     heart transplant was          arteries. Initially, stents   tissue and organs from
          tools in medicine, rang-     it is often used to close     conducted in 1967 in          were bare metal, today        pigs. or, organs could
          ing from ultrasound to       incisions, especially in      south africa; the patient     they often have a drug        be cultivated directly in
          ct scans and mrIs            bowel and lung surgery        died 18 days later            coating                       the lab.

                                            DONE DEAL

     rainer Christine                       FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – alivE:
     Born: oct. 14, 1968                    Bill Gates
     nationality: German                    FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – all timE:
     Family StatuS: married, two children   Benjamin Franklin
     Education: Biology
     (University of cologne)
     Watch: Longines
     car: skoda Fabia

                                   CASE STUDY | amaxa

                              Getting business
                              down to a science
                          Biotech start-ups notoriously struggle with the
                         transition from research to product development
                         to commercialization. Not so Amaxa, a company
                          whose CEo successfully bridged the gap from
                                      laboratory to boardroom

                                                  BY JANE PAULICK

GreGor siebenkotten                     FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – alivE:
Born: Jan. 17, 1961                     steve Jobs
nationality: German                     FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – all timE:
Family StatuS: married, two children    Genetics pioneer craig Venter
Education: Biology, PhD in
Immunology (University of cologne)
Watch: Fabiani
car: Ford Focus c-max

                                                             DONE DEAL

rainer christine is about to embark on some
serious downtime. Accompanied by his wife and two children,
the newly-minted millionaire will explore the open roads of
New Zealand in a motorhome for three months. After a decade
of putting in seven-day weeks at his biotech start-up, Amaxa,
he’s sold the company to Swiss pharmaceutical firm, Lonza.
But adjusting to a quieter life might prove difficult.
         “There’s actually a bit of a biotech hub in New Zea-
land,” Christine says wistfully. “I might just pop into a few
companies to see what they’re up to.” So much for a well-
earned break. But the former Amaxa CEo doesn’t come
across like someone who needs one. Now 40, he still looks like
the fresh-faced biology student he once was – although, in his
suit, brimming with energy, he has little in common with the
stereotypical image of the lab-coated, absent-minded scientist.
Indeed, he freely admits he hasn’t picked up a pipette in years.
After all, as the head of a company at the forefront of gene
transfer technology, he spent a lot more time on the execu-
tive floor than in the lab. And while the average scientist might
have struggled with the challenge of turning a scientific break-
through into a commercial proposition, he says he never found
the business side of things too hard.
          “It came naturally,” he shrugs. “I enjoy the interface
between science and business and I love learning new things,
gaining experience and making things work.” But it was actu-
ally a failure to make things work that first prompted Christine
to try his luck as an entrepreneur.

Pushing the boundaries
         In the late 1990s, while he was pursuing a biology
degree at the University of Cologne, he and his supervisor
Gregor Siebenkotten found their work in the field of immunol-
ogy hampered by the inadequacies of available gene transfer
technology. It was integral to their research that they be able to
introduce foreign DNA into primary cells – cells which have
beeen taken directly from a living organism. That’s because                    What iS nuclEoFEction?
the results of studies performed on the standard model cell                    advances in modern medicine such as gene therapy de-
lines cultivated for the lab weren’t reliable. These “canned”                  pend on scientists’ ability to manipulate cells, and particu-
cell lines can develop genetic anomalies due to culturing over                 larly, introduce foreign genes into a cell in a process known
                                                                               as transfection. this allows researchers to study gene func-
extensive periods. Fresh primary cells were undoubtedly bet-
                                                                               tions and develop therapies. research labs typically culti-
ter, but the problem was that existing gene transfer, or trans-                vate standard cell lines for this purpose, but for some ap-
fection, techniques didn’t work on them.                                       plications, better results are achieved with fresh cells taken
         As would any explorer fenced off from the wild jungle,                directly from a living organism. these primary cells are dif-
Christine and Siebenkotten felt deeply frustrated. “We wanted                  ficult to transfect, but with its Nucleofection technology,
to work with the best cells we could use, and that meant prima-                amaxa achieved a breakthrough. the Nucleofector device
                                                                               uses optimized electrical parameters to deliver genetic ma-
ry cells, but these were hard to transfect,” says Christine. “We
                                                                               terial straight into the cell’s nucleus (electroporation). re-
wouldn’t have been the first people to recognize this as a prob-               searchers no longer have to wait for cell division to occur
lem but oddly, others were happy to continue using standard                    before they can study the effects the foreign DNa has on
cell lines.”                                                                   the cell, and they can also transfect non-dividing cells.

revenue                               2001     € 0.5m
amaxa’s diverse customer base         2002              € 5.8m
means no single customer repre-       2003                    € 9.8m
sents more than 5 percent of the
                                      2004                           € 12.8m
total revenue. In 2006, the top 10
                                      2005                                € 16.6m
customers collectively accounted
for less than 15 percent of rev-      2006                                      € 20.5m
enues totalling over €20 million      2007                                      € 20.6m

                                                          CASE STUDY | amaxa

                                                                             The initial impulse to develop their own solution came
                                                                    from Siebenkotten, who felt that if you want a job done well,
                                                                    you might as well do it yourself. “At the time I was working
                                                                    for a company called Miltenyi Biotec and had learned a lot
                                                                    about what makes such a company tick ,” he remembers. “I
                                                                    realized that you don’t have to be a genius to make a start-up
                                                                    viable. My colleagues there were putting their pants on one leg
                                                                    at a time, just like everybody else.” Siebenkotten was excited
                                                                    by the prospects of entrepreneurial success. “I saw how big an
                                                                    impact you can have with a product, compared to academia,” he
                                                                    says. “As a scientist you might publish an article here and there,
                                                                    but only a few people in your field will ever read it. But if you
                                                                    develop and sell a product, thousands of people will end up us-
                                                                    ing it.” over coffee at the university one day, Siebenkotten put
                                                                    his idea to Christine, who was sold straight away. “He was the
                                                                    one with the drive,” says Siebenkotten. “I had the idea, but rain-
                                                                    er was the one pushing for execution.” Christine agrees that as a
                                                                    team, their roles were clear from that initial conversation. While
                                                                    he would front the company, Siebenkotten was happy to stick to
                                                                    the lab. “We have very complementary personalities and a great
                                                                    appreciation of each other’s skills,” Christine says.
                                                                             Together, they embarked on a mission to enhance the
                                                                    quality of cell transfection. It was a mission that would have
                                                                    implications far beyond their field of immunology, as trans-
                                                                    fection is the basis of gene therapy: researchers inject foreign
                                                                    DNA into a cell in order to grow a cell culture with a desired
                                                                    genetic change. In 1998, they set up Amaxa – the Greek word
                                                                    for “coach” or “carriage.” Previously, the transfection of pri-
                                                                    mary cells was mainly done using viral vectors to carry the ge-
                                                                    netic material into the cell on the back of a virus. But this tech-
                                                                    nique was not only costly, it was also unreliable, as the vector
                                                                    can affect the physiology of the cell it infects. Christine and
                                                                    Siebenkotten wanted to develop and commercialize non-viral
                                                                    methods to directly transfer DNA into the nucleus of a cell.
                                                                             Their first big break came when the team won the 1998
amaXa’S BuSinESS modEl                                              North rhine-Westphalia Business Plan Competition, which
Nucleofection requires the combination of a Nucleofec-              Christine describes as “business boot camp.” But the learning
tor device and the relevant consumables, i.e. cuvettes, so-         curve was worth it. As well as taking home DM30,000 (rough-
lutions and reagents. Launched in 2001, the system retails          ly €15,000) in prize money, Amaxa caught the eye of Earlybird.
at around $12,000 for academic customers and $20,000
                                                                    In addition to providing the partners with a quarter of their
for industrial clients. a modified Nucleofector II device
launched in 2004 and in 2006, the company introduced its            start-up capital (around DM1.7 million), Earlybird Managing
96-well shuttle system to allow simultaneous transfection of        Partner rolf Mathies also began a long-lasting coaching rela-
multiple samples. By mid-2008, more than 4,500 systems              tionship with the two entrepreneurs, aiding them with impor-
had been sold. amaxa also developed over 40 different Nu-           tant business decisions.
cleofector Kits which include the consumables needed for
transfection. a standard kit retails for around $350, and ap-
                                                                    Back to the drawing board
proximately 40,000 kits are sold each year. other amaxa
products include materials for the culture of human t-cells                Amaxa’s financing was dependent on the company
and monocytes, protein expression vectors and antibiotics.          reaching certain agreed milestones. However, after a year in
amaxa also offers in-house transfection services.                   development, the original product flopped and never made it

GeoGraphiCal spread
amaxa’s client base is spread across
the globe, which means it’s not overly                                                  Western europe 35%
dependent on any single region. Its
customers range from renowned univer-          Usa 45%
sities such as oxford, Yale and harvard,
to pharmaceutical companies such as                                                       rest of the World 20%
merck, sanofi, and aventis

                                                           DONE DEAL

                                                                  onto the market. “our first invention was based on the same
                                                                  goal as what we later ended up with,” says Christine. “But we
                                                                  were using a different method that was not device-based – it
                                                                  was a purely bio-chemical method. It worked, but not well
                                                                  enough to become a marketable product. Basically, Earlybird
                                                                  had a lot of confidence in us and said, well, if the first idea
                                                                  doesn’t work, the next one will – and it did.”
                                                                           Three years later in 2001, Christine and Siebenkotten
                                                                  came up with Nucleofector Technology, a transfection meth-
                                                                  od distinguished by its ability to carry DNA directly into a
                                                                  cell’s nucleus. As it doesn’t depend on cell division for the ge-
                                                                  netic change to occur, it allows researchers to transfect even
                                                                  non-dividing cells such as neurons. It would become the cor-
                                                                  nerstone of the company’s success. “The fact that our origi-
                                                                  nal idea didn’t work, but that in the course of our research we
                                                                  came across something else that did, is not atypical in high-
                                                                  risk technology such as biotech,” explains Christine. “Seren-
                                                                  dipity definitely plays its part.” Also typical of the biotech sec-
                                                                  tor is the fact that two young scientists developed what proved
                                                                  to be such a useful technology entirely on their own steam.
                                                                  How come big pharma hadn’t got there first? “A lot of innova-
                                                                  tion comes from the crazy people like us,” observes Christine.
                                                                  “In biotech, it’s not unusual that solutions are found independ-
                                                                  ently. Big pharma needs outsiders to come up with new ideas.
                                                                  Creativity needs a bit of freedom to flourish.”
                                                                            By 2001, when Amaxa’s first Nucleofector product
                                                                  group was in the bag, Earlybird led a second financing round
                                                                  together with two further investors. This raised enough capital
                                                                  for an early venture into the United States, the core market for
                                                                  biotechnology products. “We knew that around half our reve-
                                                                  nue would always come from the US,” says Christine, explain-
                                                                  ing why Amaxa’s presence in the US was so essential. “Plus,
                                                                  we felt we had to be connected to all the great science being
                                                                  done there.” Months later, Amaxa set up shop in Gaithersburg,
                                                                  Maryland, and recruited David Kulick, a pioneer of the Ameri-
                                                                  can biotech business, to oversee US operations. From then on,
                                                                  the company was on a roll, evolving at a steady rate of 30 per-
                                                                  cent a year into a thriving business and establishing an inter-
                                                                  national client base of scientific research institutions including
                                                                  Johns Hopkins Medical School, Harvard Medical School and
    A perfect fit: Gregor Siebenkotten                            the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and pharmaceutical compa-
 (right) had the idea to start Amaxa, but                         nies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Aventis and Bayer. In
                                                                  late 2003, Gregor Siebenkotten withdrew from the company’s
 it was rainer Christine (left) who took
                                                                  day to day operation for health reasons. He maintained an
 it forward. once established, they per-                          involvement in Amaxa as a consultant, and retained his stake
   formed different roles in the compa-                           until the sale.
                                                                           By 2004, the company was in the black and still grow-
ny, with Christine in the boardroom and                           ing at a double-digit pace, building up a research team that be-
      Siebenkotten in the laboratory                              came one of the largest r&D groups worldwide working on

eMployee GroWth
With the launch of the Nucleofection
product group in 2001, the compa-
ny’s size expanded dramatically and                                 76               84                 97                  114
by 2004, amaxa employed over 100       3          10      28
people. around 30 percent of the
company’s employees are graduates
of PhD programs                            1998    1999    2000          2001             2002            2003                  2004

                                                                               CASE STUDY | amaxa

                        non-viral gene transfer. All this in a sector which, at the time of
                        the Nucleofector technology launch, was far from profitable.
                        During the financially difficult years of 2001 to 2004, Germa-                          Bird’s-Eye View
                        ny was home to fewer than 400 biotech companies. Long de-
                        velopment times and the associated high costs meant that not
                        all business concepts proved to be resilient. “The profitabil-                          What initially appealed to Earlybird
                        ity (of biotech companies) depends on the business model,”                              about Amaxa?
                        confirms Dr. Viola Bronsema, CEo of BIo Deutschland, the                 marIoN JUNG    marion Jung: When we first met
                        office which represents the German biotech industry. “In the               Principal    rainer Christine and Gregor Sie-
                        area of pharmaceuticals development, for example, barely 10                 munich      benkotten in 1998, there was an in-
                        percent are profitable.”                                                                stant personal fit. There was a lot of
                                But Amaxa was. By 2008, the company was enjoying                                trust on the part of Earlybird in what
                        annual revenue of over €20 million. Nucleofection made up 10                            the team was trying to achieve, and in
                        percent of the transfection market and the company comprised                            return an appreciation that Earlybird
                        160 employees in both Germany and the US – including an in-                             could be a vital partner in bringing its
                        novative marketing and sales team which, although costly, was                           idea to life. The initial decision was an
                        key to the company’s success. “At its highest, sales and mar-                           emotional one.
                        keting expenditure made up roughly 40 percent of the budget,”                           What made Amaxa a convincing busi-
                        says Christine. over the years, this, rather than product devel-                        ness proposition?
                        opment, was the focus of Amaxa’s various international part-                            Jung: What we saw in Amaxa was
                        nerships – with Japan’s Wako Pure Chemical Industries in 2002                           a game-changing technology in the
                        and Fisher Biosciences’ Dharmacon unit in 2006, for example.                            field of genetic transfer. The team was
                                                                                                                proposing a technology to work with
                        Ripe for a merger                                                                       cells more relevant to human research
                                 It was only a matter of time before the founders start-                        than standard cell lines. We were con-
                        ed to feel the company needed a bigger playing field. “We rec-                          vinced both by the growth of the mar-
                        ognized that our product would be in better shape if a big-                             ket Amaxa was playing in, and by the
                        ger organization was taking care of it,” said Christine. There                          significance of the product.
                        was no shortage of interested parties, and in May 2008, the                             It took three years for Amaxa to come
                        Lonza Group announced that it had completed the acquisition                             up with Nucleofection – did Earlybird
                        of Amaxa as of July 2, 2008 – a takeover to the tune of approx-                         ever get impatient?
                        imately €90 million in line with Lonza’s strategy of growing                            Jung: Looking back, Amaxa was ac-
                        its life-sciences platform and strengthening its position as a                          tually extremely fast compared to oth-
                        worldwide leader in cell discovery.                                                     er companies. They were fast to ex-
                                 As the new owners set about integrating Amaxa’s                                ecute on a sellable product – some
                        employees into the existing structure of the company, rain-                             biotech investments never lead to a
                                                                                                  “We were
                        er Christine busied himself establishing last-minute stock op-                          product at all!
                        tions for his staff. For the time being, they’re still occupying          convinced     When it comes to investing in biotech,
                        the former Amaxa offices in the Cologne suburb of Bock-                      by the     have Earlybird’s criteria changed in
                        lemünd, and no one seems to be complaining. “It was handled                 market      the 10 years since Amaxa was set up?
                        sensitively,” says Dietmar Lenz, a veteran of Amaxa’s r&D                Amaxa was      Jung: No. We still feel that it is peo-
                        team. “Given the company’s development, it was only natural               playing in    ple who make the difference rath-
                        that management would look for a financially strong company                 and the     er than the technology. We have seen
                        to take the reins. We had some concerns about restructuring,                            companies with excellent technology
Photos: Antonia Nahas

                        but we have been reassured. That said, we’re not resting on                             fail because of the people, whereas we
                        our laurels.” As for rainer Christine, he’s moved on to the next             of the     have rarely seen good people fail to
                        chapter in his life. By now he’s probably enjoying New Zea-                product”     succeed in turning some sort of tech-
                        land’s lush landscape in his new motorhome – if he’s managed                            nology into a product.
                        to resist the lure of the local biotech industry, that is.

                                      134                       152                       154

                                            2005                   2006                   2007


     Father of invention
     Medical device inventor Tom Fogarty tells us where
     innovation in medicine is happening today, and what
     difficulties confront entrepreneurs in this field


     Dr. thomas Fogarty is a professor of surgery at stanford Univer-
     sity medical center and one of the world’s most prolific inventors
     of medical devices. his embolectomy catheter, patented in 1969,
                                                                          Photo: Karsten Lamm

     is now an industry standard. he has founded or co-founded more
     than 30 companies in the medical field. a member of the Us
     National Inventors hall of Fame, Fogarty also owns and operates
     Fogarty engineering, a medical design company, and the thomas
     Fogarty Winery, located in the santa cruz mountains

                                                  INTERVIEW | tom Fogarty

Dr. Fogarty, which development in medical research holds the       that essentially make it impossible to innovate, because they
most promise?                                                      drive the cost so high that nobody can afford to do it. That’s
tom Fogarty: First I look at what doesn’t work, and how fre- why, in America, you will no longer see innovation in the area
quently it doesn’t work – right now it’s the field of surgery. of implantables. With increasing numbers, both pharmaceuti-
It works, but there’s a lot of damage done. There are ways of cal and device manufacturers are going offshore to do clinical
achieving the same results without the damage; one is making studies. Europe is a recipient of this, but also Asia.
smaller incisions.                                                 Do you see innovation shifting to these areas as well?
Is repairing the body with the help of minimally invasive tech-    Fogarty: Yes, I’m absolutely certain. I’ve dealt with physicians
nology the future, rather than flat-out surgery or taking pills?   from Germany, for example, and they are very innovative. They
Fogarty: It is the future, there’s no doubt about it in my mind. also do good clinical studies. Germany has a great opportunity
The question I have is, why didn’t this happen earlier? The rea- to take advantage of what’s not working in the United States.
son is that surgeons are taught to do the same thing in the same We’ve seen a wave of mergers between pharmaceutical com-
way, all the time. There’s a deterrent to doing new things. In the panies. What’s behind these multi-billion dollar acquisitions?
United States, if you don’t practice the so-called “Standard of Fogarty: They think the bigger they are, the more money they’re
Care” you are subject to litigation. People are looking at their going to make. That’s the basic premise, but sometimes it’s a
potential for being damaged. I’ve always looked at what’s best huge error. I look at bigness as badness. You get so big that you
for the patient.                                                                    can’t control anything. If you talk to a big com-
Has the medical field become more open to                                           pany and they’re truthful about their capacity to
innovation?                                       “You cannot com-                  innovate, they’re going to say, “We can’t do it.”
Fogarty: Yes, but mostly in private practice. mercialize something                  It’s the early-stage companies that can.
In academia, many of the most prestigious
                                                  without the help of in- What does it mean for startups if there are few-
institutions in the US don’t want innovation                                        er, bigger medical giants around?
because doing something new means that if dustry. That means                        Fogarty: obviously it’s not a good thing. You
it doesn’t work, the first ones to figure it out we as physicians have              have no competition. Sometimes you develop
are the press. The fear of bad press is very,                                       something and you only have three companies
very influential. Also, a big part of the prob- to relate to industry”              vying to acquire that device or that drug. And if
lem is the issue of conflict of interest. You                                       two get bought by a big guy, then you suddenly
cannot commercialize something without the help of industry. find that you have no alternative.
That’s common sense and means we as physicians have to re- Where do you see the most opportunity for innovation?
late to industry. Well, many academics view industry as the evil Fogarty: one opportunity I see is devices combined with a
empire. But if you can’t relate to industry, forget it. Who’s go- service. An example would be sleep apnea, which means you
ing to make it for you?                                            stop breathing when you’re sleeping. It used to be that those
You are clearly a counter example, having founded or co-           studies could only be done in a hospital or another very expen-
founded more than 30 companies.                                    sive facility, requiring an attendant for supervision. A compa-
Fogarty: What was driving me was to develop good technol- ny I’ve been involved in figured out how to do that at home –
ogy and get it to the patients as soon as possible, as efficient- without an attendant, making it much cheaper.
ly as possible.                                                    There are a number of new research fields: genetics, stem-cell
And yet you didn’t sell your inventions to big companies – you     research, nanotechnology – is there anything that you see as
founded start-ups. Why?                                            particularly promising?
Fogarty: Because I couldn’t get big companies to look at it. Fogarty: It is a convergence. But some developments hold
With the original embolectomy catheter, I talked to everybody particular promise. For example, we can now deliver energy to
who conceivably should have been interested in this. And they kill things like tumors transcutaneously so that there’s no inva-
weren’t interested. Why? Well, companies look for “luminar- sion in the body whatsoever. We can do that with the accuracy
ies” to tell them what’s good and what’s bad. And the “lumi- of one millimeter.
naries” were all academics.                                        Are we at the beginning of a golden age in medicine?
As an entrepreneur, did you feel that there were too many reg-     Fogarty: It’s a wonderful time to get involved, but it’s a crit-
ulatory obstacles?                                                 ical time to change some things – regulatory issues, finances.
Fogarty: When I did a lot of my innovation there were regula- We’ve got to learn to deliver health care at reduced cost. And
tions, but they weren’t cumbersome. Now there are regulations that can be done. We just haven’t focused on it.

                                   UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL | thom rasche

                                       A hands-on man

     Earlybird Partner Thom rasche oversees the company’s medical device portfolio

                                                      Tell us your life’s motto in one sentence.
                                                      thom rasche: Nobody knows it all, so stay humble, stay
                                                      Which talent would you most like to have?
                                                      rasche: I envy people who can play the piano. I think one
                                                      needs a combination of endurance, musical talent and intel-
                                                      lectual power to play the piano well. Unfortunately, I’m a very
                                                      impatient person with a permanent zest for action – not the
                                                      best qualities for the pursuit of such a hobby!
                                                      What is the most memorable thing you ever did or received
                                                      that didn’t cost any money?
                                                      rasche: It was in 1977, a year after my father’s death, when
                                                      an old friend of the family invited me to join him for a race at
                                                      the famous Nuremberg ring race track. We didn’t go to watch
                                                      a race, rather to participate in one. It was the Shell Eco-mar-
                                                      athon where the task was to get as far as possible on just one
                                                      liter of gas. Each participant had a specially constructed ve-
                                                      hicle. We spent many days building our car in the garage of a
                                                      vegetable seller outside Hamburg. Then we drove to Nurem-
           During his spare time, thom loves          berg with a camper. I love the memory of it. I was only 16
           to cook and play with his two boys
                                                      then and didn’t have to pay for anything.
           (here, his younger son, Nicolai)
                                                      If you could be reborn as an animal, what would you be and
                                                      rasche: I’m torn between a cheetah and a gazelle. Both are
                                                      very graceful and fast. Some might think that there’s a high-
                                                      er chance of survival as a cheetah, but I don’t like the fact that
                                                      cheetahs tend to be mavericks, so I guess I’d go for the ga-
                                                      zelle. A gazelle knows that it can only win in a group.
                                                      If you could take one year off to help solve one of the globe’s
                                                      major problems, which cause would you devote your time to?
                                                      rasche: I would join a relief organization in a dry region of
                                                      Africa and try to provide hands-on, technical assistance for
                                                      basic infrastructure, such as building a well or installing pipes
                                                      from a standpost.
                                                      If you could have one day without any private or professional
                                                      obligations, what would you do?
                                                      rasche: Gliding with a sailplane. I used to do that a lot as a
                                                      child with my father and brother, but I haven’t done it since I
                                                      was 18.

          Born: oct. 23, 1961                    FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – alivE:
          nationality: German                    Bill Gates
          Family StatuS: married, two children   FavoritE EntrEprEnEur – all timE:
          Education: Business administration,    Johann Wittenborg
          (University of Lueneburg)
          Watch: Jaeger Lecoultre master
          car: Porsche Boxster

                                       Did you know that:
                           Earlybird portfolio companies have created
                                    over 3,300 qualified jobs.

Earlybird Magazine_
Editor-in-Chief: Thom Rasche; Development & Project Supervision: Dr. Thomas Clark, Ambo Media
Managing Editor: Deanne Corbett; Project Team: Daniela von Wedel; Dr. Marion Jung
Design Concept & Art Directors: Andreas Volleritsch, Michaela Pernegger, Neubau Editorial Design
Cover Design: Caroline Backhaus, Backhaus Design Contributing Authors: Karsten Lemm, Jane Paulick, Simon Storey
Litho & Print: Druckerei Kriechbaumer, Munich
Earlybird Venture Capital GmbH & Co. KG; Van-der-Smissen-Str. 3; 22767 Hamburg, Germany
Tel: +49-40-43 29 41-0; Fax: +49-40-43 29 41-29, E-Mail: (responsible for the editorial content: Thom Rasche)

We have changed the subtitle of our publication from “Venture Capital Magazine” to “Magazine”, as “Venture Capital Magazine”
is the name of Germany’s leading publication for private equity. We apologize for any confusion caused.

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