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Igor Fisch, co-founder Selexis, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #298 - Igor Fisch: Chess Moves & Pharma Spin-Offs

Igor Fisch

February 13, 2023

5:37 - Founding Selexis in 2001

11:46 - Acquiring the first customers

15:18 - Getting a patent

21:16 - IP and license deals

24:00 - Serving on the VentureKick board

About Igor Fisch:

Igor Fisch is the founder and former CEO/President/Chairman at Selexis, a life-sciences Geneva-based company, and current president of the Romandie innovation incubator Fongit. He holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Geneva and previously worked as an assistant professor at the University of Lausanne and the EPFL.

In 2001 he co-founded Selexis as a university spin-off together with Nicolas Mermod, to change the way biologic drugs were developed. Selexis is nowadays the global leader in cell line development with best-in-class modular technology and highly specialized solutions that enable the life sciences industry to rapidly discover, develop and commercialize innovative biologic medicines and vaccines.

From research laboratories and biotech startups to big pharma, Selexis has partners in over 42 countries. Their partners use Selexis technologies to advance more than 164 products in preclinical and clinical development and 10 commercial products. Igor and Nicolas acquired these partners by presenting hard-data arguments which would convince scientists, and make them Selexis evangelists.

Selexis holds 210 granted patents that cover innovations in genetic elements, procedures/ transfection, cell line engineering, and devices related to cell line development and protein expression. They have pursued this path determinedly in order to keep their future options open and be in a better position to strike deals. Igor thinks the most difficult thing about filing the patent is writing the claims, which need to be drafted with a chess player’s finesse and strategic thinking. He advises startups to procure a provisional patent application in the case that they’re not yet ready to file a full patent but plan on being so in less than a year.

In 2017 Selexis became part of the JSR Life Sciences group, and Igor left his operational role at the company. Nowadays he serves in the Venture Kick strategy board, as a way to give back the investment that was made in Selexis back in the mid 2000s.

Memorable Quotes:

"Regardless of industry, every entrepreneur faces the same challenges: what’s your product? Who are your customers? What’s your market?"

"Swiss foundations, together with incubators, are a winning combination to get quality funds and education to upcoming Swiss startups."

If you would like to check out our previous Gebert Rüf bonus episodes, check out our conversation with Tobias Kistler.

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