Michel-de-Baar-2You get to hear new ideas, and the latest scientific and
technological developments and have excellent networking opportunities. There is so much making it worthwhile to attend the
Microbiome Pitch Day on 27 September. We talk to jury member
Michel de Baar, Executive Director at MSD, about his expectations
for the upcoming event.

What are you looking for in a pitch? 

I’m looking for innovation, novelty, science, and a good story containing a good plan for how to continue the development. Where did the idea come from? What is the hypothesis? How did people arrive to where they are? How are they going to further exploit it? What strategies do they have to bring innovation to the patients? The pitch contains a lot in a very short time so there are a lot of things I prefer not to hear in a pitch.

So, what do you not want to hear in a pitch?

Very often, people put too much time and emphasis on explaining the market, but you’re only wasting your valuable time. Venture capitalists and big pharma like us tend to know the market or will assess them ourselves, and ultimately, good medicine will always find its patient. Just clarify in one slide that you understand the market and enthuse us with your idea and plans.

What should a startup focus on in its pitch presentation?

It’s important for everybody, whether you’re talking to a venture capitalist, big pharma or the audience, that you explain the science and the rationale of what you’re doing. Science is what we’re investing in as well as in the team behind it, so make sure to have time to briefly present the team. The more people can explain what they’re trying to do, the better.

After hearing a startup’s pitch, what could make you immediately think: “I want to invest in this idea”?

The science and the novelty. I’m looking for something that is differentiated from what others are doing and what has already been done. The startup should have a good plan, a good underlying data package, the right models, and have taken the right controls. I need to understand if there is a viable path forward. Is it possible to scale up, and develop and manufacture the molecules? My partnering or investment decision is linked to all these factors. Also, show that you know about your specific hurdles, and convince the jury that you’re aware of them, and how to solve them.

From a personal perspective, what are you looking forward to the most when it comes to the Microbiome Pitch Day?

I’m looking forward to science, novel ideas, and diversity. Hopefully, we get to hear very different types of ideas, which makes it challenging for the jury. I’m looking forward to a fun event, meeting new people, and a very stimulating day where I walk away with new ideas and thoughts on how the whole field of the microbiome is moving.

Why should I (as a spectator) attend the Pitch Day?

In a very short time, you get bombarded with new ideas and science, from which you can learn how people are pitching, and what works and what doesn’t. You learn about the ecosystem, and what others are doing in the microbiome field. There might be developments you can use in your own programs or possible collaborations. It’s fun to watch, and there are very good networking possibilities. So, there’s so much making it worthwhile to attend.

Explore the microbiome ecosystem in Medicon Valley here 

Read more about career opportunities here