Event Recap - Life Science SPACs: Insights from the Field

On May 4th, the New England Venture Capital Association gathered a panel of experts and top minds from the life science innovation industry for the second session in our Member Edu Series — Life Science SPACs: Insights from the Field. We were thrilled to welcome to the panel Kevin Bitterman, Partner at Atlas Venture; Dan Dubin, Vice Chairman & Co-Head of Investment Banking at SVB Leerink; and Jason Meyenburg, CEO of Gemini Therapeutics.

NEVCA’s President, Jody Rose kicked the session off with an introduction to the event and the lineup of panelists. Kevin then opened up the conversation, stating that SPAC is not quite the “dirty 4-letter word it was for many years in both the biotech and broader financing environments,” and he and the panelists dove into why that is, what has changed, and the structure and tactics of a SPAC, and some of the strategic questions that face operators — like Jason, who faced this specific path in the life science space.

Orienting the conversation, Dan detailed major benefits to choosing the SPAC route, key considerations to keep in mind throughout the process, and discussed the current landscape for these vehicles — comparing the performance of the SPAC market in 2021 to 2020, adding that, “this is clearly more than just a trend — it’s more likely going to be a permanent fixture with respect to capital strategy in the life science space.”

Next, Dan proposed what would become a theme of the rest of the discussion — “not all SPACs are created equal” — comparing the key differences between I. the highly coveted, maybe higher quality, SPACs that are sponsored by some of the brand names in the space and II. the traditional SPAC, where the sponsor may not be as well known, and the investors are more typical SPAC buyers.

Kevin then handed it over to Jason to discuss his personal experiences merging with a SPAC last year, and what he learned from the transaction.

“The SPAC represented more additional capital, but more importantly, a vehicle to go public and access the public markets. Our education continued and ultimately, it was a daily topic to ensure that we were going with the right SPAC. I don’t know that we would have had the success that we are experiencing now had we not had opportunities throughout the announcement to de-SPAC and now post de-SPACing, of news flow, which is so important because you are showing to the investors what is perceived to be a ‘quick return vehicle,” Jason told the audience.

After each panelist provided their unique insights, the afternoon moved into a Q&A section. Questions from attendees popped up covering everything from defining ‘the right SPAC’ to the risks involved with merging with a SPAC without a pipe as a backstop.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out and joined us and to our sponsors and panelists at Atlas Venture, Gemini Therapeutics, and SVB Leerink!

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