Based: Basel, Switzerland
Why It's Fierce: When this Swiss biotech pulled its IPO earlier this year, it said more about the market than the company's drug development program. Speedel has an impressive lineup of Phase II and Phase III compounds in development. The brainchild of CEO Dr. Alice Huxley, Speedel got started by in-licensing a compound that was being neglected in the merger that created Novartis. That compound -- SPP-100 -- is now back in Novartis' hands under a collaboration deal and is in pivotal trials for hypertension. Novartis has contributed both milestone revenue and an equity investment. Speedel also in-licensed two other compounds in the same kind of approach; picking up the research where other pharma companies left off. Another compound, SPP-301, is being put through Phase III by Speedel alone, this one for diabetic nephropathy. And the company's research arm -- Speedel Experimenta - has been making strides in developing preclinical renin inhibitors, which the company views as an emerging class of anti-hypertensives. The combination of in-licensing drugs with potential and "unlocking" their value -- providing some near-term revenue potential -- while developing agents in a preclinical setting has won Speedel some loyal investors. That made it possible to back away from an IPO rather than take a deep discount on its stock price.
What to look for: Speedel is in talks to in-license other agents, though there is no timetable in the works. Efficacy data on its most advanced drug candidates will be crucial. And they're keeping their options open about going public - when the market turns more receptive to biotech offerings.