Pushing for more public-private collaborations
Sir Christopher Evans
Success in any business helps create influence. In the case of Sir Christopher Evans, he's used every ounce of his reputation in the U.K. biotech field to help push a much more active agenda for government officials in the struggling industry.
The U.K. has ample scientific talent. The research hub in Cambridge has turned out some stellar tech plays, from antibody work to new oncology drugs. What it hasn't turned out is an Amgen or Genentech, a big player that can spin off a crop of startups as insiders go off to run their own ventures. And recently some of the industry's brightest hopes have been blighted by a toxic level of clinical failures.
In 2008, Evans--along with some of his more illustrious peers--were out to get the British government to put up a half billion sterling to help revive the industry. Last year, he was named a top adviser to Welsh officials on the life sciences front. And he's used his premier position--which was only slightly scraped by a passing cash-for-honors probe--to keep a spotlight on the country's talent. That was in clear view recently when he hailed Cardiff University's Chris McGuigan, who helped birth Inhibitex's ($INHX) lead drug and inspired a $2.5 billion buyout.
Evans puts his money where his mouth is. He runs the Merlin venture funds at the Excalibur group and he's been spotlighted as a key figure behind the shadowy NCPharma, which has reportedly gathered substantial backing to launch a major new drug development effort.
And the conservative U.K. government has been receptive to Evans' push for more government support. By applying a new public-private formula for biotech, the U.K. may well be on the verge of a life sciences revival. His entrepreneurial take on the issue has been essential to the process.