Xconomist of the Week: Alexis Borisy Still Likes Early Stage Biotechs

12/20/12Follow @cathyarnst

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is that Sanofi, based in Paris, has no control over Warp Drive until, and if, it buys the company. Meanwhile, Borisy says Warp Drive will likely continue to make deals with other pharma companies interested in its technology.

This, he says, is a viable new model for all kinds of biotech startups. Big pharma companies, desperate for new compounds, can get access to innovative R&D at the earliest stages while investors decrease their liquidity risk. “I’m hearing a lot of companies now talking about Warp Drive-type deals,” he says, adding that Third Rock will definitely do more of them.

Meanwhile, biotech investors in general need to get back to seeking out transformational innovations, he says. “I know this is a hard industry, and we’re not smarter than anyone else out there, we just look at things differently.” Third Rock is as much an incubator of startups as an investor, he says, with a willingness to nurture and advise entrepreneurs for years before an innovation is ready to see the light of day.

Ultimately, though, it’s all about finding those innovations in the first place, and Borisy is certain there will be more and more to find in the next few years. He describes a life sciences industry that is in a golden age of discovery as scientists increasingly take advantage of such relatively recent breakthroughs as next-generation genomic sequencing, advances in stem-cell and genomics research, and powerful new imaging and diagnostic technologies.

“We think this is a great time to invest in early stage, because we are backing the science and drugs that matter,” he says.

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