Without the large, decade-long investments of individual billionaires, vaccine manufacturers Biontech and Curevac would probably not be as successful as they are today. At least that’s what Helmut Jeggle, the Biontech supervisory board chief, said in an interview with “Wirtschaftswoche”. Jeggle knows what he’s talking about: He is also head of the family office of the Hexal founders Thomas and Andreas Strüngemann – both are important investors in Biontech. Above all, the co-founder of the software company SAP, Dietmar Hopp, has invested in Curevac, as reported by “Wirtschaftswoche”.
A large part of the money to finance the two technology companies came together before the IPO through family networks of the rich entrepreneurs, as the business newspaper reports. The billionaires Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann are entrepreneurs who prefer to use their money to shape processes instead of just managing them.
According to Jeggle, the billionaires investing in Biontech and Curevac are less about making short-term profit and more about creating sustainable companies. With their investments, they wanted to turn technology startups into successful companies. The Strügemann brothers founded the pharmaceutical company Hexal themselves in 1968. And that at a time when generics were not yet a widespread, rather unpopular business model.
The billionaires then knew that investing in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals would be promising
The Strügemann brothers are well aware of the difficulties faced by startups and, according to Jeggle, are still enthusiastic about innovation. After the Hexal brothers sold in 2005, they wanted to build something new again. They decided on the health sector and finally on Biontech because the industry was still in its early stages and there were globally recognized and innovative research institutions that promised interesting and diverse start-ups in the near future.
Without the investment of the billionaires, Biontech and Curevac would have had a hard time, because the state still prefers to award public contracts and investments to established concerts than to startups. Biontech and Moderna were the first to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, not established pharmaceutical companies. According to Jeggle, startups like Biontech are much more agile and flexible for new technologies than established companies, which have to concentrate on maintaining their current status in addition to developing new technologies.
In an interview with “Wirtschaftswoche”, Jeggle said that Biontech had to go public in the USA at the time because it could not find any investors in Germany. Biontech is still doing this, because in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sector the American market is much more open to innovations than the German. In this country, the market would still rather shy away from new technologies.