"We need to grow"
EuroBiotech_ Why do you think it’s necessary to massively expand the CARB-X network towards Europe and to go beyond the already established relationship with Wellcome Trust in UK? Did the imminent Brexit play a role? Do you think at present, it’s a good time for a biotech company to go public?
Kevin Outterson_ Brexit had nothing to do with it. We are expanding the accelerator network because our portfolio is much larger than originally anticipated, and we need to grow, both geographically and in depth of resources.
EuroBiotech_ How did you choose the selected locations?
Kevin Outterson_ We ran a global RFP process beginning last February. The new accelerators were selected through that process. We were looking to add more depth to the network with regards to technologies and geographic reach.
EuroBiotech_ What do you expect in the next two to three years as an outcome of the network expansion?
Kevin Outterson_ We provide financial grants but also networked support in scientific and business issues. This is a pre-paid buffet for the companies powered by CARB-X. The best outcome would be more successful companies moving forward towards the market, with highly innovative antibacterial products.
EuroBiotech_ How do you perceive the European AMR innovation landscape compared to the US? Do you see specific strengths and weaknesses?
Kevin Outterson_ US universities are eager to spin out successful technologies to startups, often with the participation of the PI and their post docs. That is now an entrenched part of US university culture. European universities and research institutes are advancing amazing science, but some don’t have the same drive to commercialize. But, CARB-X is very pleased with the quality and quantity of applicants from Europe, as you can see from our current and upcoming funding announcements.
EuroBiotech_ From your perspective, what does the EU Commission need to do to improve the conditions for AMR innovators in the private sector?
Kevin Outterson_ Collectively, we have so few resources compared to the AMR problem before us, so all stakeholders in AMR must collaborate and avoid redundancy. JPIAMR coordinates national research budgets in AMR, which is important. The IMI funding model depends on large company support, but going forward, it appears that most of the large companies have not chosen to participate in new IMI projects focused on Gram-negative bacteria, at least from the Pillar A, B, and C proposals that have been released publicly. CARB-X stands ready to assist the proposed accelerator to help it succeed. Indeed, CARB-X will collaborate with any antibacterial project supported by IMI or other key stakeholders in Europe. We are in this together.
First published in European Biotechology magazine, Spring 2019 Edition.