Inventiva, working to discover drugs for pathologies with high medical needs
Inventiva’s genesis was far from a walk in the park, yet its IPO, which the specialised press has described as “spectacular”, marks a turning point in the growth of this highly promising French biotech player.
Having originated from Laboratoires Fournier, which was acquired in 2006 by Belgian group Solvay and then by US group Abbott, the Dijon Research and Development site had been earmarked for closure until two of its managers decided to take it over in 2012.
Frédéric Cren, former managing director of research at Laboratoires Fournier, and Doctor Pierre Broqua, former director of research at Laboratoires Fournier's Daix offices, decided to take a leap and create Inventiva.
Their goal: to transform this new biotechnology firm into a regional and national leader in pharmaceutical research to discover new drugs for pathologies with high medical needs.
With a library of roughly 240,000 molecules and a large number of employees taken on from the Dijon site, Inventiva embarked on two major therapeutic projects, the first concerning liver fibrosis and systemic sclerosis*, and the second related to mucopolysaccharidosis**, rare diseases for which no treatment has yet been found. Frédéric Cren and Pierre Broqua also established special partnerships with pharmaceutical laboratories, biotech firms and academic laboratories, notably with Abbvie and Boehringer Ingelheim.
2017 was a year that stood out for Frédéric Cren and Pierre Broqua as it marked the end of the five-year support received from Abbott. This left Inventiva with the major task of ensuring the future financing of therapies being developed and the continuity of the company and the jobs it provided.
Societe Generale's first meeting with the company took place in 2015, during which the bank's teams were drawn by the company's history, and the strategic vision and personality of its two entrepreneurs.
Rodolphe Besserve, a banker at Societe Generale, explains: “After our first meeting with Inventiva’s management in mid-2015, we rapidly started to look for financing solutions that would best suit this biotech player. An IPO had been envisaged from the outset because it was the most appropriate solution for Inventiva's needs, namely to secure financing for the clinical trials scheduled for 2017-2018 and maintain control of the company. But market conditions were unfavourable at that point (Brexit, US elections, etc.). We worked flat-out for several months to identify an investor base that would guarantee a significant portion of the operation during its launch. Things finally began to gain momentum in autumn 2016 thanks to the passion and teaching skills of Frédéric and Pierre, who won over some benchmark healthcare sector funds in the US and Europe.”
Frédéric Cren says: “An IPO is a process that makes you think differently about your company and what you want to do. It’s a turning point that, if well steered, will help you to build the future of your company and its employees. Pierre and I could not have completed this stage without the support of all of Inventiva's employees, and its executive managers in particular. And, of course, the experts that worked alongside us, notably Societe Generale, which believed in us from the outset. I feel we have put Inventiva in orbit for some time, and I’m very proud of it!”
* Liver fibrosis is caused by many chronic liver diseases. Sclerosis is a rare auto-immune disease causing general fibrosis and a thickening and hardening of the skin.
** Mucopolysaccharidosis is a highly debilitating and fatal genetic disease associated with an accumulation of waste in the cells.