Long before Amgen decided that BioVex's late-stage efforts to develop a genetically modified herpes virus to kill cancer cells was worth up to a billion dollars, Welsh biotech investor Sir Chris Evans had staked the company back in its start-up days in the U.K. But BioVex later moved its corporate office to Woburn, MA, specifically so it could get closer to U.S. investors capable of bankrolling its ambitious R&D plans (though its research effort for OncoVex remained in Oxford). And today Sir Chris uses the story to highlight the woeful state of biotech investing in his home country.
"BioVex were never going to raise the millions they needed in the UK. They were better off in the States where they raised £60m," he told The Scotsman. "We don't put enough money into these firms in the long term. There is too much pressure that they will pull off sensational results quickly."
That kind of weak investment environment is hitting home in places like Scotland, he added, where an ambitious public effort isn't getting the kind of private banking support needed to fuel the biotech industry.
"Scotland once had a lot of money, a lot of institutions and banks--but all the banks have gone pear-shaped. As a result Scottish Enterprise is a voice in the wilderness trying to prop these things up."
- here's the story from The Scotsman