In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, investors Thomas Strüngmann and Michael Motschmann spoke about the Mainz company Biontech and its founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci. You yourself have also invested in Biontech. The company that will most likely be the first in the world to launch a vaccine against Covid-19.
Investors are particularly impressed by the founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci. “You are highly honest, hard-working and exceptionally intelligent,” says Motschmann, founder of the Munich investment company MIG.
On board since the beginning
The investors have known the founders since investing in their first company Ganymed in 2007. Motschmann describes the first encounter as follows: “Ganymed was our first joint investment in 2007. Ugur and Özlem were sitting in my office, I was immediately fascinated by them.” The Ganymed company specialized in monoclonal antibodies for cancer therapy. Even then, the founders had the idea of a messenger RNA technology, which is now being used against Covid-19, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
However, the investors and founders are not just business partners. They are friends too. Strüngmann explains: “I call Ugur once a week. It is wonderful to talk to him about books and films, for example. He’s not allowed to tell me anything relevant to the course anyway. ”The fact that Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci are under extreme pressure shows a small fact above all: If Strüngmann has an appointment with Sahin on a Sunday at 11 p.m., the phone call is often postponed because Sahin still has to work. Motschmann makes it clear: “Otherwise such success would not be possible. The vaccine is what everyone is seeing now. “
The secret of success is humanity
For Strüngmann one thing is clear: “Humanity connects and creates trust in work. Without that it doesn’t work, especially not in biotechnology, because development takes a lot of time and there are setbacks. “
You need a lot of perseverance in biotechnology. It takes time to achieve a successful result. There is a constant sense of apparent certainty. For Motschmann, trust and openness are particularly important, he makes it clear: “Problems are guaranteed to come and you have to solve them together.” Diligence and identification with what you do are also the key to success for investors.
Investors will also have to wait for the vaccine to be approved
Of course, the investors themselves have not yet had a vaccination date, they joke. Because you as investors would of course have to wait for approval. Strüngmann reports that he even had a place in an experimental group. However, due to time constraints, he stopped the investigation, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The main reason for his interest in the test group are personal events: “This is a malicious virus. One of my closest friends died from it, and some of my acquaintances got it. I would like to have vaccinated the day before yesterday. “
The two investors are not afraid or distrustful of the vaccine. Strüngmann says: “I fully trust the vaccine from Biontech. So far, it has been tested on almost 22,000 subjects. As far as I know, none of them has shown serious side effects to date. ”Motschmann agrees with his business partner:“ Biontech works with a completely new technology, messenger RNA. The body is injected with the assembly instructions to defend itself. This is the future of vaccination and not just vaccination, but also cancer therapy. “
The development of the vaccine is not a competition
Investors are happy that Biontech will probably be the first company to bring the urgently needed vaccine against Covid-19 to market. However, joy is not associated with pride. One thing is clear to investors: “It’s not about a race either. We hope that as many vaccines as possible will come onto the market soon, because one company alone will not be able to provide the supply. One can only hope that the vaccines from Astra Zeneca, Moderna and Curevac will also be approved as soon as possible. We hope that the approval will be available and vaccinations can be given in early 2021. “
In 2008, the investors launched Biontech with Ugur Sahin. Biotechnology was not so well known back then. In contrast, almost every established pharmaceutical company is also a biotechnology company today, the investors told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The two investors have now invested more than 200 million euros. You believe in a successful future for Biontech. Strüngmann makes it clear: “We are only at the beginning with Biontech. With Ugur we want to realize our common dream. Biontech should remain an independent company. We don’t know a better investment. ”Motschmann adds: “It certainly costs a lot of money. But you have to take the risk. Those who do not take any risks in their life will be punished, that applies to small and big things. “