Life Science Impact day

Is everything in life science impact investing and if not, how can it be defined and measured?


On April 16, the Trill Impact Ventures team hosted the 2nd “Impact in life science” day – an event focused on impact and ESG matters in early-stage life science companies. 15 European and US VC investors came to Stockholm to tackle questions such as how to define and measure impact in life science, and how to turn increasing ESG requirements into value creation in early-stage companies.

The day started with opening remarks from Trill Impact’s Founder and Managing Partner, Jan Ståhlberg, who spoke about his journey from being a part of building a global house of finance to creating a European pioneer in impact investing, emphasizing the role of private markets towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The panel discussion that followed focused on concrete examples of the business opportunity in serving the underserved. Diana Torgersen, Head of Innovation Ecosystem Integration at Organon, expanded the definition of women’s health to include all diseases where women are overrepresented. She stressed the importance of taking biological gender differences into account in drug development, to increase the probability of success. Hugues Bultot, CEO of Univercells, spoke of his company’s collaboration with Serum Institute of India in the area of affordable cancer vaccines, as an example of bringing cutting edge treatment options to millions of patients worldwide.  Joachim Nahem, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Position Green, underscored that ESG matters are here to stay, driven by increasing regulation and consumer demand.

The rest of the day was a collaborative working group session on impact and ESG, facilitated by Silva Dezelan, Head of Impact and ESG at Forbion and Beatriz Gandarias Calzada, Investment Associate at Aliath Bioventures.

Insights on ESG from the day:

Current ESG reporting metrics were developed for mature companies and do not adequately capture the essentials of an early-stage product development company with a limited number of employees. As a consequence, many VC investors have created their own set of questions for reporting purposes which, given  the minority ownership model, places a heavy burden on portfolio companies needing to complete multiple ESG questionnaires yearly. This has led to a widespread questioning of the value of ESG reporting in early-stage life science companies. The group reiterated the need to shape reporting requirements to focus on value creating essentials, by creating and agreeing on a common set of metrics. Such work is currently happening across multiple forums and there is a clear drive to merge these initiatives to ensure successful implementation across European VC-backed companies in life science.

Insights on Impact from the day:

Defining impact in life science is challenging and varies from the traditional ‘unmet medical need’, to focusing on specific underserved patient groups, and other underfunded areas. Even though the definition of impact varies among investors, many value creating activities in the portfolio companies are the same, such as clinical development. There is also an industrywide need to improve communication around impact created, highlighting the continued opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other.

In Trill Impact’s view, the opportunity to drive value creation through increased focus on Impact and ESG matters remains large, and we were excited to see the level of engagement and how well received the event was within the group. Trill Impact is happy to continue offering an arena for future discussions to progress these initiatives.

Nina Rawal, Partner & Co-Head of Impact Ventures, interviewed by the Swedish Dagens Industri:

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