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GlycoMimetics Addresses Fundraising in Challenging Times

Rachel King

GlycoMimetics CEO Addresses Delicate Dance of Biotech Fundraising in Challenging Times

On November 8, 2012, the BioPark hosted Rachel King, CEO of GlycoMimetics, as part of its Business of Bio speaker series. Ms. King spoke before an active, question-filled audience from the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore and from bioscience companies throughout the region.

Opening her discussion with a review of the venture financing climate within the life sciences industry during 2012, Ms. King said, “There is a challenge today with respect to the risk level that a venture capitalist is willing to take. Investments are going towards later-stage programs. That’s not to say early deals don’t get done – but they are harder to secure.”

During the bulk of Ms. King’s frank and open presentation, she shared details about her company, specifically the fundraising challenges it has faced and successes achieved, particularly those associated with its lead drug candidate, GMI-1070, which is being developed in partnership with Pfizer to treat vaso-occlusive crisis of sickle cell disease (VOC).

In reviewing her company’s fundraising to date, she pointed out three critical questions that all biotech CEOs must address as part of the delicate dance:

  • How can you finance your company for the longer term?
  • How can you advance programs to the point of value creation?
  • If you partner, how can you preserve enough value in your company so that investors will get their returns and will continue to support the company?

Ms. King emphasized that much depends upon personal relationships when it comes to identifying strategic investors or partners,  and that persistence and patience are important virtues as is a long-term view: “Sometimes venture capital funds who turn you down in one financing round are the best prospects for funding for future rounds,” she noted.

Describing her company’s ongoing partnership with Pfizer, Ms. King said, “It’s an excellent fit.” While there are always tensions between a small company’s way of doing business and a large organization’s processes and procedures, she said that GlycoMimetics and Pfizer have navigated their relationship extremely well. “We like and respect each other.”

Ms. King closed her presentation by reminding the audience that, at the end of the day, the work of the life sciences industry is extremely important: “We deliver breakthrough innovation,” she said. “That’s never easy; but it’s inspiring.”