Albireo, Bicycle Therapeutics name Big Pharma execs as CEOs; Nextera lands J&J collaboration

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. AstraZeneca ($AZN) spinout Albireo and Sir Greg Winter-founded Bicycle Therapeutics joined the list of biotechs to poach R&D execs from Big Pharma companies this week. Gothenburg, Sweden-based Albireo hired Ron Cooper, a 30-year veteran of Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), as its CEO, while Bicycle persuaded Kevin Lee to swap a top rare disease R&D post at Pfizer ($PFE) for a chance to lead its nascent operations. While talent is flowing from Big Pharma to little biotech, ideas and technologies continue to head in the opposite direction. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) picked up an option to grab an exclusive license to Nextera's technology in rheumatoid arthritis. And Boehringer Ingelheim unveiled the crowdsourced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) R&D team it has built with BioMed X. Malin, the biotech investment fund led by ex-Elan CEO Kelly Martin, outlined its ambition to take some its portfolio companies public over the coming year. Immunocore and Kymab are among the companies in which Malin has invested. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. AstraZeneca's NASH spinout shifts focus to Boston as ex-BMS exec takes charge

Having spent 7 years building up a pipeline of bile acid modulators from its base in Gothenburg, Sweden, AstraZeneca spinout Albireo is now swinging its center of gravity to Boston, MA. The shift follows the appointment of ex-Bristol-Myers Squibb executive Ron Cooper as CEO.

2. Bicycle Therapeutics names Pfizer rare disease chief as CEO

Bicycle Therapeutics has become the latest biotech to convince a Big Pharma R&D chief to jump ship for the chance to lead a startup. The R&D chief in question is Kevin Lee, who took over as CEO of the British biotech this week after spending the previous three years leading rare disease research at Pfizer.

3. J&J signs up to assess Nextera's tech platform in rheumatoid arthritis

Nextera has landed a research collaboration that could put it on the map. The deal gives Johnson & Johnson a chance to take a closer look at Nextera's immunological technology platform with a view to bagging an exclusive global license for its use in rheumatoid arthritis research.

4. Boehringer finalizes team for crowdsourced COPD R&D initiative

Boehringer Ingelheim has finalized the crowdsourced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) R&D team it has spent the past 9 months putting together with BioMed X. The partners have tapped the University of Stuttgart's Renata Jurkowska to lead the initiative, which is an attempt by Boehringer to draw on expertise outside of its walls to better understand the epigenetics of COPD.

5. Malin plots IPOs for portfolio companies over next 12 months

Malin is looking for near-term paydays in its portfolio. The plan is to start delivering a return to the shareholders who helped it amass a €372 million ($415 million) investment war chest by taking some of the businesses it has backed public.

And more articles of note >>