Press Coverage

    Sofinnova's Henrijette Richter talks to BioCentury about creating support networks for first-time CEOs

    Getting new leaders help from the 'village'

    Related Deal lead

    Henrijette Richter

    Over the past few years there has been a rise in the number of new drug development start-ups created, in part because of an acceleration in translatable science and the amount of money venture capital firms have been able to invest in the sector.

    This has led to an increasing number of first-time CEOs being hired to run these new companies. BioCentury published an article Aug. 30 taking a look at how VCs are turning to board chairs and other leaders to help these new CEOs lead effectively.

    "Providing individuals who've never held the position before the opportunity to lead will have long-term benefits for the companies and the ecosystem," the author, Stephen Hansen, writes.

    These new CEOs need guidance in this complex industry. Board chairs with experience running companies, along with independent board members, entrepreneurs in residence, and networking groups are among the ways VCs are helping these new leaders, he writes.

    Sofinnova Partners' Henrijette Richter was among those interviewed for the article. She suggested that putting experienced people in the other C-suite jobs was a good solution. "It doesn't need to be at the board level," she told BioCentury. "You can pair a first-time CEO with more experienced C-suite people such as a CFO. When I think about a first-time CEO, it is more about the corporate side — the fundraising, the company building, the interaction with the board. It is all about using the network you have and matching that first-time CEO with more experience."

    Richter went on to say that events like Sofinnova Partners' CEO Days, the firm’s off-site meeting for its portfolio companies "are extremely efficient, especially for first-time CEOs, to create networks, connect with people and reach out to more experienced CEOs." The annual event brings together leaders from the Sofinnova Partners portfolio companies to share experiences and network with key opinion leaders across the global biotech, biopharma and medtech community.

    CEOs from Sofinnova Partners' portfolio companies organized themselves into regional groups during the pandemic to share experiences, Richter added. "A lot of networks were created during COVID across very new groups of people that we had not seen before. I really hope those networks will continue because they will help first-time CEOs.”

    Read the full article from BioCentury. (subscription required)

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