Founder-CEO Interview Series

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Erik van den Berg

Erik serves as CEO of Memo Therapeutics AG and previously was CEO at AM-Pharma from 2011 through 2023. He is Chairman of Step Pharma  and TargED Biopharmaceuticals and co-founder and previous (executive) Chairman of Lava Therapeutics (NASDAQ: LVTX), co-founder and previous (executive) Chairman of Heatmatrix Group (sold to BosNieuwkerk) and was board member of Lead Pharma and the Dutch biotechnology organization.

As Senior Executive at Organon he was responsible for global biotechnology business development. Prior to joining Organon, Erik worked in business and corporate development at the biotechnology company IsoTis (SWX/Euronext: ISON – sold to Integra Lifesciences), and as a Management Consultant at Arthur D. Little. Erik has been involved in the execution of over 20 transactions and partnerships, including a $600M alliance with Pfizer, $290M partnership with Kyowa Kirin and raised ~€500M in equity and debt financing for biotechnology companies from seed through IPO.

Founder-CEO Interview Series

with Erik van den Berg

Could you tell us more about yourself?

I enjoy working with dedicated teams of highly skilled professionals to develop innovative products whilst achieving ambitious goals. You could say I am very result-oriented and a team player.

Privately, I love playing sports and enjoy good food and company. Professionally, I am and have been involved in creating and growing high-technology companies where I have led several large deals and financing rounds from seed financing through IPO.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as CEO at Memo Therapeutics AG (‘MTx’). What is the team building?

The MTx team has been very open and welcoming as well as receptive to my initial outsider perspective. After establishing a joint focus on value creation and quality we defined our short- and medium-term goals. Now we are expanding the team to support our near-term ambitions and continue to build a high-quality team at Memo Therapeutics AG.

What are the next milestones for the company?

We want to successfully conclude our ongoing Phase 2 study with our antibody against BK virus (Trapovitug) in kidney transplantation by the first half of 2025 and advance our discovery programs to substantial value inflection points by then.

You’ve been involved in the field of research for kidney-related diseases for more than a decade. What are the main challenges faced here?

The kidney is a versatile and complex organ, responsible for vital body functions. The challenge with kidney diseases has been unravelling complex disorders to find suitable targets as well as agreeing on obtainable pivotal endpoints for market authorisation.

Kidney diseases can progress slowly (but steadily) over a prolonged period, ultimately resulting in end-stage-renal disease and transplantation. Early endpoints are required to support approval, such as reducing kidney function decline measured by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and proteinuria.

You are also the Chairman of various biotech companies. What is the main role that you play and how do you stay focused and prioritise?

I am currently Chairman of Step Pharma and TargED Therapeutics, two companies with exciting programs with a clear mode of action. Step Pharma in CTPS1 dependent cancer and TargED advancing the next generation thrombolytic.

I help management teams and boards focus on the main strategic challenges and risks to maximize the chance for the team to be successful whilst advising on key investments in product development to create value. When appropriate I leverage my network in pharma and investors to support the companies’ financing and partnering efforts.

How did your time in Pharma and consulting develop your mindset and skillset?

Starting as a strategy consultant allowed me to experience a variety of business challenges across different industries, including chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It also further shaped my analytical focus and result-oriented drive, allowing me to quickly get to the essence of the subject at hand.

Working in pharma brought in new perspectives on therapeutics development as well as important quality and manufacturing considerations. In business development you ‘re-live’ multiple development programs of potential collaborators, which broadens the experience base. Starting a family and raising children to adulthood has helped develop my patience and self-reflection.

What is one interesting fact about yourself that few people know of (a hobby, etc.)? 

I start to whistle when I am irritated and sing when I am joyful…

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