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Funding future for biotech is bright if you are prepared

Ryan Amin

Ronald Lindsay, CEO of Zebra Biologics Inc., thinks changes in the biotech industry will lead to a trend of success for biotech companies. His company's technology can be used as a platform to discover and develop bio-superior antibody therapeutics and complex drug targets. Zebra has just pulled in $9 million in its first investing round, and Lindsay thinks one of the biggest changes for the future of biotech is the availability of venture funding.

"We are getting into an area where venture capital that has been missing the last few years will come back due to recent success of IPOs and some companies in the biotech industry," said Lindsay. "Biotech startups have not done that well overall in the past, but in terms of tools that have become available, I think we are in for a productive year in biotech companies."

Lindsay did warn that venture can complicate business plans in the biotech industry, but said there is a way to be smarter about venture funding.

"When things get tough, investors from venture capital companies can squeeze companies to force an immediate return," said Lindsay, who put his own money down to start Zebra. "As you build a company you should have a portfolio of different opportunities that is balanced, which will make better chances for partnerships."

Lindsay has 25 years of experience with different startups. He said the science behind the company is often the main driver.

"The main focus and driver was world-class science," he said. "The business side of our business sort of came after. If you have a little bit of a science background and are hoping to create a biotech business, think again because you need to know how the science will unfold. One good scientific idea is not enough. A lot of biotech startups that have failed over the last 10 to 15 years didn't have enough depth."

Other insights from Lindsay:

Network - "You'd be surprised how helpful veterans in the industry are in helping you to get off the ground," he said. "I would advise to be bold and contact CEOs and people in companies you admire. You would be surprised how much time they will give. There is a mentoring component that goes along with this."

Do it sooner than later - "Don't wait until the end of your career, because there are a lot of avenues in biotech that allow you to do good science and business for anyone with some taste of business with a science background," Lindsay said.

[Photo by - Matthewthecoolguy]

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