How do start-ups support Biopôle’s partners?
Interview with Samantha Brandler, Director of Research Innovation Europe at CSL Behring
Samantha Brandler, Director of Research Innovation Europe at CSL Behring, explains how their partnership with Biopôle gives them the invaluable opportunity to meet promising entrepreneurs and fast-track innovation.
Why did you choose to partner with Biopôle? What is unique about this partnership?
Biopôle is one of the most dynamic life sciences ecosystems in the world. Located in the canton of Vaud, it is part of a large innovation cluster in Switzerland. I am on-site regularly to meet and mentor those in the early-stage community. It’s an invaluable way to connect with cutting-edge innovation while it’s still bubbling.
Why are you looking to engage with start-ups? What is the benefit for CSL Behring?
Science is moving fast, and innovation is key to the next generation of healthcare. At CSL Behring, we believe that to fast-track innovation, we need to partner with the brightest minds in the sector, seeking new ideas and modalities in our main therapeutic areas (immunology, haematology, respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic, and transplant).
We therefore aim to collaborate with academia and start-ups from a very early stage, helping shape the initial project and ultimately bringing novel treatments to patients faster.
What can start-ups expect from CSL Behring?
CSL Behring is working on a diverse portfolio of treatments for severe and rare diseases in immunology, haematology, respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and transplant. We work alongside our partners to provide the perspective of a world-leading biopharmaceutical company. This means access to commercial, R&D, clinical, intellectual property, marketing and manufacturing expertise tailored to each individual project, with the ultimate goal of working together to accelerate projects towards the clinic and beyond.
We seek to build long-term scientific relationships with promising entrepreneurs. CSL Behring assigns a scientific champion to each project to engage closely in technical dialogue and provide expert industry guidance.
How do you detect high-potential start-ups?
This is where Biopôle comes into play. Biopôle helps us scout for collaborators via their large scientific network and works closely with CSL Behring’s external innovation team to introduce us to innovation across Europe in our five therapeutic areas and to foster scientific exchange.
What is your advice for start-ups looking for partners today?
Make yourself visible and reach out to industry leaders like CSL Behring or hubs like Biopôle, which can facilitate connections. The more you expose your ideas to your peers, the more your project will mature and advance. Find the right partner: the drug development path is a long road, so cultural fit is important. Ask yourself whether your technology or therapy could also be applied outside your current area of focus to broaden your pipeline. CSL Behring is focused on rare diseases, and naturally there is a smaller pool of companies working in our core interests, so we often reach out to companies working in adjacent indications. We’d welcome start-ups to do the same.
Dr. Samantha Brandler is CSL Director of Research Innovation Europe, based in Bern. In this role, Samantha leads Research External Innovation efforts in Europe across CSL’s therapeutic areas and she is also part of the Bern Leadership Team. Prior to joining CSL, Samantha served as the VP of International Operations and Business Development for Neogenomics where she led the international expansion of the company. Before this Samantha held positions including CEO of Veracity Biolabs, CBO of Nexomics at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, and EVP BD of 360biolabs, all in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to moving to Australia, Samantha conducted independent research for 10 years at the Pasteur Institute in Paris where she was an INSERM tenured scientist. The main focus of Samantha’s research was on vaccine development and during that time she co-invented the most advanced chikungunya vaccine, now in phase 3 clinical trials, licensed to Themis Bioscience and recently acquired by Merck MSD.