Clara Campàs, partner and co-founder of specialized venture capital fund Asabys Partners, analyzes how the global Covid-19 crisis is affecting the sector and is optimistic about the future of investment in healthcare.
Clara Campàs has a PhD in Pharmacy and has spent her career in the pharmaceutical industry, in various executive positions at Advancell and Kern Pharma. Since 2019, she has been a partner and co-founder of Barcelona-based specialized venture capital fund Asabys Partners.
In general, we aren’t seeing any changes. The first weeks of lockdown, we got new ones at the same pace as before. It may have slowed a bit after that but not much.
Right now, we’re closing a couple of international rounds and they haven’t stopped at all. Everything is still going and at the same pace. Obviously, we’ll have to find a different way to sign the documents, deal with the legal issues, and we can’t visit the companies we want to invest in physically, but the timings are exactly as we had planned.
I haven’t been able to find the value in these virtual conferences yet, because the purpose of these events is to meet face-to-face with people you normally communicate with in other ways. I think we’ll all become more restrictive in that sense and we won’t go to as many each year, but we’ll still have them in person when possible.
All of the new initiatives that didn’t have completed fundraising are being left for 2021. This isn’t the time for aggressive fundraising, but we’re still getting calls from investors who want to invest in healthcare. We’re seeing an increase in the healthcare sector and in venture capital in general, because there are many investors who are tired of the standard market and want to move into venture capital, which is more acyclical and doesn’t depend on the markets as much. Plus, they’re seeing that investing in healthcare can be profitable because society is giving it more importance.
Yes, we’ve been monitoring the companies in our portfolio very closely. We distinguish two types of companies: the ones with sales (digital health companies) and those that are developing products (medical technology). The former are taking a hit in terms of turnover and have to be flexible and change their targets for this year. This is why we recommend analyzing how this situation will impact the company very closely. In companies without turnover, we recommend they analyze how this could affect their calendar and, as a result, their future funding needs.
Sure. Infectious diseases are a big problem for society, but the structure and pricing for antibiotics mean it isn’t an attractive area for venture capital investment. We’ve seen tons of projects on infectious diseases and when we calculated the return on investment, it never came out positive. But now we’ll rethink that. I’m sure we’ll see more investment in infectious diseases. More than projects focusing on Covid-19, we like projects that can adapt to any epidemic or pandemic that may pop up. Right now, 70% of the projects we receive are in oncology, but we need to diversify investment.
I’d like to think that society learns from this sort of problems. The healthcare sector is being valued again. The general public is starting to talk about virology and science. We always used to complain that general society doesn’t have a basic grasp on health and science. This interest will help raise awareness of the importance of the healthcare sector and of investing in it so the science and healthcare sector has enough capital to be a driving force for society and the economy in Europe.
The need to stay healthy is an intrinsic human necessity that will never go away. In fact, it is only increasing as we live longer. As a society, we have to invest much more in biotechnology, but we also have to be more selective in where we invest, choosing disruptive projects that add value and are global. If we can do that, the return on our investment is just a matter of time and of us all managing these investments with common sense.